Friday, May 8, 2009

how hollywood lied to me 1

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. -- Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

By the time I'm done I will have quoted the entirety of Fight Club. 

In the movies, the idealized kind, we often see lovable losers and late bloomers overcome impossible odds to rise to the top of their chosen sport/martial art/whatever in their respective fictional universe. What a wonderful world it would be if deciding to practice really hard for one week before a super important event always translated into a glorious victory against opponents who have been training their whole lives for the same thing. Hey, it worked for the Mighty Ducks. Unfortunately as the physicists say: there's no free lunch.

The underdog as unlikely hero makes for a great story. The underdog's me and I just won! Yeah! That's the (folk) psychology that makes it so satisfying. It all just has a little too much of a I've-got-finals-tomorrow-so-I-think-I-might-actually-do-some-cramming-tonight kind of feel though. Of course every one knows this approach to life works, but you'd be hard pressed to finish in the top 5% of your class. Being in the winners circle requires more effort than most people are willing to give (I am one of those people), so we chow down on the Hollywood comfort food fantasy. It's a lot easier than getting down to doing some real work.  

It turns out that once in a while you can pull off a miracle performance, but we refer to it as a miracle simply because you probably only will ever do something like it once. Ever (see the Kiwi's world cup win against the Kangaroo's last year, than compare it to yesterday's ANZAC test debacle. The universe has been restored to it's proper order). Long term every day (every day not as a going through the motions type of attitude, but as an action) dedication to a cause will beat johnny-come-latelys 99% of the time, no matter what the movies say. 

I'm not going to one day wake up and be able to crane kick my way to respectability. Or liberate humanity and stop bullets mid flight using my uncanny powers over a simulacrum of reality. Hell, I'd probably be hard pressed to make the run on squad for a semi-decent dodge ball team. This is all very disappointing. Where does that leave me and the big chunk of people who fall within the confines of the decidedly average on an evenly distributed bell curve? It's time to cast off the chains of self-imposed and outsider encouraged lethargy. Me and my lost generation. I may have implicitly bought in to the hype, believing that somehow I'd spin straw into gold eventually, but clinical tests confirm that straw is just straw. Damn. Where to from here? In spite of everything I've said I will follow the sage advice of George Eliot "It's never to late to be who you might of been." Time to make something out of that straw while the sun's still shining. 

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Edison

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