Movie hits generational nerve (updated)

I read reviews for restaurants I will never eat in, ballets I will never attend, movies I will never see.  You could wonder about the meaning of that.  So could I – being a shrink and all.  But that’s not the subject of this post.

I was reading this movie review.  For a movie I’m sure I’ll never see.  Well, ok, “never say never” and all that, but trust me, I see very few.  I might go and see that new one by Julie Taymore with Helen Mirren.  Because I admire both women.  But I digress.

I love the freedom of digressing in a blog…

Ok, back to the review.  Something tells me this movie has hit upon a huge fissure in our society.  Generational.  Ethical.  Here’s the quote from the review that piques my interest:

Many older people will watch the movie, which was No. 1 at the box office last weekend, and see a cautionary tale about a callous young man who betrays friends, partners and principles as he hacks his way to lucre and fame. But many in the generation who grew up in a world that Mr. Zuckerberg helped invent will applaud someone who saw his chance and seized it with both hands, mostly by placing them on the keyboard and coding something that no one else had.

Yup.  I’ll never see the movie but I am an “older people” and I totally identify with the description.  Made me wonder about Josh Marshall… I hate to say that, but it did.  Especially this part:

“When you talk to people afterward, it was as if they were seeing two different films,” said Scott Rudin, one of the producers. “The older audiences see Zuckerberg as a tragic figure who comes out of the film with less of himself than when he went in, while young people see him as completely enhanced, a rock star, who did what he needed to do to protect the thing that he had created.”

I know there’s not a huge overlap here.  But I think this speaks to a huge ethical gap in how some of us view integrity as a very high principle versus others (yes, I can see myself distancing from “them”) view success and fame and money as the objective and betraying people or principles as simply an unfortunate byproduct or worse,  simply inconsequential.

I have no solution.  It’s painful to be older and look at young people and see this happening.  I wonder if the financial downturn will change things at all or maybe make them worse (worse by my definition of course).

It’s amazing sometimes how you can stay at home and just read the reviews.  And there it all is – whether you experienced it personally or not.  But even so, you’re affected by it.  Well, at least I am:  Someone concerned about principles and people.  Someone never motivated much by fame or money or status or power.  Yes, I’m in the group that’s deeply bothered here.   And I’m guessing maybe Josh Marshall, perhaps even unbeknownst to himself, is in this other group.

Update: Here’s Paul Krugman a day later.  Different topic but same problem:

Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

Money talks.  And we’ve shifted the money to those willing to buy people!  People for sale.  Public offices for sale.  You name it.  Sold to to the highest bidder!

Only if enough people are willing to do what’s right – for low pay – can we dig ourselves out of this hole!   Doctors.  Lawyers.  Professors.  IT people.  Electricians.  You name it!

Critique:  So part of it is generational.  But mostly it’s human nature.  Greed is the key!  (And whether your ethics gets in the way of your greed.)

16 thoughts on “Movie hits generational nerve (updated)

  1. Wow, you’ve touched on a lot here, Thera. Timely film, this piece about Zuckerberg. He’s been in the news a lot this year. Me, I’m still astounded when I see his photo under the “Richest People in America” title. He is still such a young kid, after all. And there’s been a lot of grumbling about how he oversees Facebook, and the corrections he’s had to make after angering so many of his users. Also a lot of grumbling about his charitable efforts as well. Yes, he’s certainly a man in the news lately.

    Funny how this film is released just as they are coming out with a sequel to “Wall Street” featuring yet another young man (with Gordon Gecko returning, of course, as well). Perhaps kids these days all want to aspire to be millionaires, even though it can take a lot of ruthlessness to become one. Me, I’d rather be broke and happy.

    1. Oh, and….this is just to say that I love Julie Taymor and Helen Mirren too. Totally.

      As for Josh, well. I am grateful we all had the pleasure of meeting one another through him, and I’m grateful for the space he once afforded us. That’s all I will say for now. 😉

      1. Yes, TPM Cafe allowed many people to meet. And maybe one of the saddest things is that the man who started it… we really don’t know him. But I can ask… though I can’t answer: What did he want once upon a time? And what’s happened in the meantime to that dream he had? But I suspect he’s a man who feels it’s fine to analyze others… but never expected to be the subject of analysis himself. (but he’s only another example, in a different way…not really the subject of my inquiry, so to speak)

        I know nothing about FaceBook. Except that it’s not for me… Now… how sane is that? 😉 I’m content to read about it… What does that make me? Seriously… (There’s an infinite regression we could do here…)

        1. Ha, yes, I suppose there is. I joined Facebook in hopes of keeping in touch with friends and family and (now) former coworkers. Sometimes, however, I wish that I hadn’t. I didn’t count on the lack of privacy I’d have when Zuckerberg started changing privacy settings behind the scenes. Those have been addressed over the summer, but in the meantime, it taught me to be more careful about my profile.

          That being said, I’m happy that I’m able to keep up with folks like Orlando, who is now so far away, and with a dear friend from California as well. So, it’s got its usefulness. One just has to be careful about what one says and does there, if they choose to have a public profile. I no longer have one. And even then, I’m careful.

          1. Yup… I suspect you’ve exactly explained why I avoid having a profile there. That, and I usually don’t follow fads or trends.

            I am so out of the loop! 😉

  2. another trope

    Well first let me say that I enjoy reading reviews. In the right hands they can be highly enjoyable essays touching on the issues of life in ways that are more moving than the films, books and plays that are being reviewed.

    One thought does come to my mind. Maybe the generational difference has to do the maturing process. Maybe if this younger generation a few decades from now sees a film about someone like Zuckerberg they will have a similar reaction as the current older generation.

    In this country, we tend to grow up in a media culture (tv music movies and now the internet) that tends to highlight the superficial and places a premium on things like fame and wealth and power. Some of course never grow out of it (Wall Street and Hollywood are full of them), and for many the residues are just beneath the surface. Today I saw Scarface with Al Pacino was playing on the tv. Here was someone who was romanticized by many of my generation, a poor Cuban who went for and achieved the American dream.

    The problem is it seems more and more are not growing out of it. And the superficiality (in large part because of the net?) is becoming more pervasive.

    The tragedy is that this cultural dynamic is not inevitable. But given how many people make so much money off of it, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

    1. Yes, sometimes the review is better than what is reviewed. I so agree… I love travelogues at times.

      As I said above to Lis, in some ways I have managed to live such a quiet life, avoiding TV, lots of media actually. I think I’m like a museum piece perhaps, living in another era. Or another way of life. I don’t know TV personalities much. Or TV shows. Or popular culture. I must really sound like a weird person. I hate shopping. I really love learning. Reading. Thinking! Now, mind you, I’m pretty content with this. I relish it actually. But I am well aware that in this day and age it is a weird lifestyle. On the other hand, it was always my objective in life to be an eccentric old lady. I always figured being a shrink was a jump-start in that direction. Gave me leave, so to speak. And I’ve learned a lot about life from other people’s “reviews” of it, I guess… in the consulting room as they say.

      There was another very interesting article I read today. About Las Vegas. It is really having a very hard time with this downturn. People aren’t going there. Especially not gamblers. And the building frenzy, at least in hopes of attracting tourists, strangely continues. I have visions of the place becoming a ghost town. I have visions of many ghost subdivisions of mansions.

      It’s strange to be a “social critic” when I’m not even immersed in what I’m critiquing. It’s one vantage point. And yet I find very interesting your conjecture of how, as the younger generation ages, they may look very differently upon what they lived through and aspired to. If folk wisdom holds, then maybe they will bring their own children up to be very ethical, to live the principled lives they themselves forgot to live.

      But I fear your prediction may be the correct one.

      1. another trope

        I have a couple of stretches where I didn’t watch television for a couple of years stretch. At the same time I grew up with tv – one of those kids who would sit a foot away from the big television in the living room (how they dominated the room in those days). So when I wouldn’t have tv in my life, as soon as i was in place (like a bar) that had one I became transfixed by it, even in the commercials. There is something to idea that we are from young age conditioned to respond to the stimuli of tv.

        It is does say something that one cannot talk about the culture without talking about tv. I don’t think one has to watch Dancing with the Stars or Desperate Housewives to understand the dynamics that are going on. Although there are some shows like Jersey Shores that are so lacking in redeemable value, a cultural car wreck on the road of life that one has to actually see it to understand just how truly awful (vile?) it is.

        So I commend you on avoiding tv. I do remember during my tv free days a number of times in this or that conversation someone asking “did you see such and such last night.” There was always a pause when I pondered the question of whether I should just say no, implying i just happen to miss it this time around, or to say i don’t have a tv. The latter response getting some form of verbal or nonverbal response of “well, la de da, aren’t you the special, superior one aren’t you.”

        And I like the description of sessions as “reviews of life.”

        1. We never got a tv till I was maybe 10, possibly 9. So I mostly read. Then in high school I dissuaded my parents from hooking up a TV. Also not in college. And we never had one when our son was young, till he was a teenager. I literally taught young children for 8 years with no TV. I never hid that from the teachers or the kids.

          I don’t think I should be commended though. It’s more a habit of not watching. I have to confess a bit of an internet addiction at times. So I try to watch that. Internet is more interactive. TV is receptive… But even as a kid, I was troubled by the way that sit coms made fun of people, that the joke was often at the expense of someone. That bothered me. So then it was hard to watch tv shows. In that sense I think that I was an early culture critic – without realizing it.

          What a shame that some people would dis others for not watching TV. That just shows how terrible being anti-gay would be for a young person. How those who unthinkingly follow cultural norms simply assume you’re either being superior for your failure to follow them or that you’re weird.

          For a “free country” we sure are a nation of conformists or expected to be.

      2. Having just read this, and trope’s comment below it, I’d like to add some thoughts. Because television is so pervasive, for one thing. And therapy so needed, for another.

        I grew up with Sesame Street. Mr. Rogers. Television safe for, and geared towards, children. I also grew up in therapy from a young age, due to the fact that it was the late 60’s and early 70’s and my parents had divorced when I was three. Teachers at that time were concerned about the divorce because, I suppose, back then it was not the norm, even then. Well, plus, I had a fear of going to school after a while, thinking that perhaps my mother would not be home when I got off the bus at the end of the day. I guess there was that too.

        Anyway, I grew up with television and I grew up in therapy and now that I no longer really use either one, I find myself wanting therapy more than television. The TV of old where I watched nature shows on Disney and PBS is gone now. My 10-year-old niece watches the Disney Channel and sees little teenaged girls wearing makeup and popping their gum. Television has become not an educational experience but a dumbing down distraction (unless one watches only PBS and History, et al).

        Therapy allows one to interact, discuss, get to the heart of things. Dig deep, venture into ones most fearful thoughts, in a comforting atmosphere, with a professional guiding the way.

        And yet, most of America goes for the television rather than therapy.

        How very sad that is.

          1. I’m just following down the thread. So I didn’t even know where this was placed!

            Now you and I are on the same wavelength. Which is “interaction” versus “passivity”. Now that is very interesting! Because it may be where the dividing line is. Those who conform may enjoy being passive recipients. Those who aren’t so conforming may be those who enjoy interaction.

            I do agree that somehow TV has become, I think, too commercialized. Even public TV isn’t like the bbc, something that the govt really supports. And under bush it was deliberately eviscerated. So there is great opportunity for wonderful programming, I would think. Like you describe growing up with. And I do love the wonderful British acting on public tv in a few select cases.

            And I will also admit, I’ve come to enjoy watching golf. It’s green. It’s peaceful. It often puts me to sleep. But I find it relaxing at times. However, we don’t have cable, only an antenna (but digital television), and golf is now deemed not enough of a draw to have very often on the regular channels that we get. No point getting cable if we hardly watch!

            1. Televised golf used to bore me to tears as a child. The whispering sportscasters, the hushed moments before a great drive or putt.

              Now it’s my favorite sport to watch on TV.

              Well, I did enjoy the World Cup (soccer) this past summer. But that was not the norm.

              1. Yes, world cup soccer! Now that we watched on our regular TV. EXCEPT we literally had to go to a couple of nearby bars to watch 2 Spanish games! That was a sociological thing for us – who are not bar people…

                In the middle of one game, there was a terrible storm. And the TV went out! In pouring rain we ran down the street to another bar. But there people were rooting for Germany – which was losing…. so we had to cheer in our hearts! And stifle our screams.

                Golf… I watch it with the sound off!! See, that’s why it’s so soothing…

  3. Is it surprising that the advice to, “work hard and the rewards will come” just doesn’t wash with a generation who has grown up watching the heavy advertising of both lottery tickets, legalized gambling, etc. and celebrity, glamor, etc.?

    1. Yes, why wait for rewards when you can cheat and have them now? Or something like that…

      Cheating. And the Ways to DO IT!

      There is a book just waiting to be written. (Lis could do it, and save herself. But she won’t. Not unless it’s a comic book or something…)

      The book on “work hard and the rewards will come” is languishing…

      Years ago I realized that if you tell the truth, you have one story to tell. Only. No matter how strange, it’s your one and only tale to tell. But the liar has millions of lies. In some ways, lacking evidence, you can never win against the liar. Except on integrity. And who’s paying attention to that these days?

      That latter question is the key question.

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