From ‘Deep Impact’ to ‘Seeking a Friend..’

You might have seen advertisements or read reviews about a new film called ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World‘. The overall story line goes something like this-

As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

One of the somewhat ignored part of the plots is that human (specifically American) efforts to divert or breakup an asteroid fail- repeatedly. Did you catch that? Now compare this outcome to movies from the late 1990s such as Deep Impact and Armageddon.

How did Hollywood disaster movies go from the triumphant but unrealistic tone of ‘Deep Impact’ to the depressing but realistic one in ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’?

There are those who say that such apocalypse/disaster movies are feeding into a public fascination with Mayan end time prophecies. While this explanation has some merit, it cannot explain why many of the recent popular and not so popular creations of Hollywood have a less than optimistic view of the world. For a longest time, Hollywood movies were soaked, then infused and finally pumped full of optimism such that even films on fairly dark and morbid subjects had a happy or happy-ish ending. The monster always dies, disaster is always averted, evil is always defeated, the officials are always competent or lucky, the guy always gets his girl. So why have the last 7 years seen so many films with less than happy endings? The same can be said about TV. Shows such as “Weeds”, “Dexter”, “Girls” or even “The Sopranos” would have been unthinkable in the mid-1990s.

So what changed? What happened to American exceptionalism and optimism?

I believe that the strong belief in exceptionalism and forced optimism that dominated the American psyche and popular culture is dying. There are many reasons behind this shift in attitudes ranging from general trends such as the lack of economic mobility, poor job security and working conditions, the rapidly increasing use of legislation and force to pauperize/abuse well-meaning people, the very obvious drop in social cohesion etc. There is however one another reason that we rarely talk about, even now.

It is now obvious, if only on a subconscious level, to most non-retarded americans under a certain age that all important public and private institutions have been damaged beyond repair or resurrection.

The key words in my claim are ‘damaged beyond repair or resurrection’. Most Americans still tell each other, and themselves, that these institutions can be cleansed, repaired and rehabilitated. However, deep down, they know that institutions from schools, universities, the health care system, police, judiciary to banks, corporations and all levels of government have been compromised beyond repair. They are aware that these institutions can no longer be expected to perform at the expected and necessary level of competence.

People are beginning to see that they are trapped in a once impressive, but now decaying, building that is not being repaired or maintained inspite of repeated promises to do so. Those who are supposed to keep it in top shape are still collecting the payments and pretending to work (replacing a few light bulbs here and there, repainting a room) but it now becoming obvious that they are far closer to slumlords than competent professionals. Furthermore, unfragmented mass media, which was the main psychological weapon of these slumlords has lost its near monopoly and more importantly- its credibility.

That is why popular entertainment today is dominated by morally ambiguous ‘anti-hero’ characters, dystopic fiction, depictions of institutional incompetence, greed and cruelty and a overwhelming sense that “trusted” professionals are lying or cannot deliver what they had promised.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Days of Broken Arrows
    June 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Yep. Nice post.

  2. anon
    June 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Brilliant. Aside from the obvious detrimental effects it will have on me personally, I look forward to witnessing the decay in all its crumbling beauty. Let it burn!

  3. P Ray
    June 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    People will finally find out who their real friends are.
    Not too shabby.

  4. Nestor
    June 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    From the same Wikipedia article:
    “Lorene Scafaria wanted to “tell the story of boy meets girl with a really ticking clock”, prompted by recent events in her own life, including a “death in the family, a breakup, and a new relationship”.[2] The story of an “unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on an impromptu road trip” is familiar territory for Scafaria, as that was the premise of her previous screenplay, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”

    Not very convincing. There is much more than this.

    From her biography on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorene_Scafaria):
    “In 2009, Mandate Pictures picked up Scafaria’s script Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,[4] a romantic comedy that focused on one man’s quest for a meaningful connection amid the “end of days”. The film marked the directorial debut for Scafaria, and was released in June 2012.”

    It is not clear when she wrote the script is it after the release of the movie “2012” or before. But why release a movie called “Seeking A Friend for the End of the World” in 2012? Why is the emphasis on “the End of the World” in the title, the first thing any person will pick up from any movie?

    Let’s look at Mandate Pictures’ filmography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandate_Pictures):
    “Filmography
    The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013) (released by Universal Pictures)
    Untitled Diablo Cody Project (2013) (released by Paramount Pictures)
    The End of the World (2013) (released by Columbia Pictures)
    Hope Springs (2012) (released by Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, and Escape Artists)
    Seeking A Friend for the End of the World (2012) (released by Focus Features and Indian Paintbrush)”

    So in 2012 it’s “for the End of the World”, while in 2013 it’s already “the End of the World”. Random coincidence or intentional symbolism?

    Then check the biography of Scafaria, the director, Joseph Drake, CEO of Mandate Pictures, and Frank Giusta, founder of Lions Gate Entertainment which owns Mandate Pictures. None of these have the profile of the average person, therefore none of what they produce and promote reflect popular opinion. Nay, what you call “popular entertainment” is definitly not “popular”, it’s elitist entertainment forced down the throats of the people. Man, how could you miss these important facts?

    The symbolic and subliminal message is clear: the end of the world (symbolic for the old world order) is near and you, the average person, can’t do anything about it.

  5. Webe
    June 25, 2012 at 12:25 am

    The disconnect between public mores and private conviction is now at least two generations old. Even in the sixties, everyone knew that what was said during speeches for commencements, opening the school year, graduations, new projects, corporate announcments and mission statements, political events, etc., was all memories from yesteryear. Everyone knew that all public reasoning and inspiration was no longer sustained by personal conviction, but at best well-done or comforting PR because something has to be said. Heck, even funerals have this character.
    But the fact that all communication has some ulterior motive and that the content is instrumental to some other goal is now so ingrained that it is simply an incontrovertible fact.
    The Reagan years (an actor) were a last ditch attempt to pretend reality didn’t exist, there was no energy problem, Americans were all great people who would naturally overcome any obstacle just by dreaming, trying and remaining “positive”. The totalitarianism of this “power of positive thinking” is finally being shed like old skin falling away.
    The current crop of young adults grew up with global warming and accelerating species extinction, not fairy tales. They ignore most public information and communication, instinctively paying attention only to stuff of which they have personal knowledge. The very idea of a common cause or experience has been deconstructed, not intellectually, but by the warp and woof of the everyday social environment.

  6. Nestor
    June 25, 2012 at 4:11 am

    The NAFTA superhighway:
    http://www.greatdreams.com/political/invasion_of_america.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA_superhighway


    That was an issue about 10-15 years ago.

    • Nestor
      June 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

      The first link is from 2008.

      I first heard about the NAFTA superhighway thing is the early 2000s.

      • Nestor
        June 25, 2012 at 9:47 am

        That’s not what I meant. I meant that the writer of the first link, who wrote in 2008, considers this as a contemporary issue.

  7. Nestor
    June 25, 2012 at 10:12 am

    The NAFTA is just a prelude to a North American union just as the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community were the prelude to the European Union.

    This is from a communique of the French Federation of Humain Right, a Masonic institution:
    “The French Federation of Le Droit Humain represented by its president, Michel Payen, met on April 8, 2008 with the president of the European Commission, José-Manuel Barroso, […] This meeting constitutes a major event regarding the place of Freemasonry in the construction of Europe; this place was underscored not only by the interest and attentiveness that President Barroso showed to the delegation and the time he accorded them, but also by the commitments he made to the values espoused by liberal and adogmatic Freemasonry, its positions and its opinions on subjects of concern. It was the first time that Freemasonry, as such, was able to express itself to such a high level European institution.” (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3184)

    Notice how Barroso makes a commitment “to the values espoused by liberal and adogmatic Freemasonry”. Could this be more explicite?

    Expect in the near future to hear also talks about some sort of an Islamic or Arab union containing Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia and Gulf countries, now that Hamad and the Sauds have these under their rule.

  8. Matt Strictland
    June 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

    ICP, a better band than a group of rapping clowns has any right to be sums it up in Its All Over

    To be on this planet living your life
    To see it all end would be alright
    You cant complain, you wouldnt die alone
    You can die with loved ones and die at home
    And you’re not missing anything when you’re gone
    Plus seeing it all end and what goes on
    To see this great world come to an end
    Would be the next best to seeing it begin

  9. jhbowden
    June 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    However, deep down, they know that institutions from schools, universities, the health care system, police, judiciary to banks, corporations and all levels of government have been compromised beyond repair.

    Truth.

    I’d like to see a complete meltdown; it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people. We’ll probably watch the system limp helplessly like a wounded animal for a few decades instead. (Alas, not everything is better in super-slow-mo.)

  10. BrianBlack
    June 27, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Yup, this is correct. Plus it was a sham to begin with. I heard schools were really started not for learning, but so the “adults” could be able to go to “work” for companies to then pay taxes.

    I remember around 8th grade in “school” when a large number of kids were catching on and all began to think in their minds at once “Wait a minute, we’ve been sitting in schools for years and we have about four more years to sit in schools and we are never going to actually use any of this stuff we are “learning” so we are wasting our lives away in these schools (like they would next try to think of ways to break free only to then be thrown back in by their parents and the authorities). Then, the braindead teachers would continue to brainwash us kids by “doing their job that they got a paycheck from” to tell us to be quite and sure we would use this stuff someday (lies) and we better get back to studying for our next test. By two years later the kids are brainwashed enough to then be talking about what college they are going to (that has a good basketball or football program).

    These institutions are now falling apart, so this is another reason to not listen to what they say. If I was back in school now I would flip them off.

  11. EvilOne
    July 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    You might want to see “The Divide” with Michael Biehn

  1. June 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm
  2. June 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

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