Image/Quote of 2007
I found it, this is the letter I wrote to Katie from work the day after seeing the film “Little Miss Sunshine”:
I keep thinking about that movie last night.
I am curious about the writer or director of that movie. I felt that he did a good job of splitting the various sides of ones personality into several pieces and then bringing those pieces to life in a compelling way through the characters of the movie. We watch the drama of "the innocent child", the "depressed rebellious teen", the rejected suicidal academician, the driven, success seeking "Winner", the regretful old man who wishes he could do it all over again, and the woman who has to hold them all together as a family... The characters are all so wildly different from each other, and yet I could identify with them all. It is as if the writer took each stage of his own life and created a character to represent it.
I really think that the whole movie was intended as a Nietzsche-esque morality tale. Of course Nietzsche was mentioned and the book "Thus Spake Zarathustra" was displayed. The "Moral of the story" given near the end of the movie is similar to Nietzsche's teaching, that is "to embrace suffering". I believe it is Frank who argues that those times of suffering are the best times, the important times. Nietzsche felt that suffering was the most authentic human experience, and also one that human nature sets out to deny it self of. And in denying itself, it inflicts it upon one another, and on the innocent.
Each character in the movie is discovering that the things they pursue are not only illusive, but ultimately meaningless. They are what Nietzsche called "the tawdry baubles of a distracted life". The grandpa is reflecting on his life regretting that he didn't pursue his passions more when he had the chance. The father is desperately pursuing fame and success which seems to remain always out of his grasp. Frank, the brother, has pursued a love and a career that have ultimately betrayed him. The son has already abandoned all his dreams in life save one, his quest to be a test pilot. Then life swoops down and strips him of his last and final hope when he realizes that he is colorblind – and thus ineligible for flight. The daughter seeks in vain to be a beauty queen; a quest that is so transparently harmful, meaningless and futile, and so obviously destined to cause her to cast aside her own natural authentic self in exchange for the generic plasticity that the pageant rewards. All this ultimately sets the stage for the entire cast of characters to have to question not just the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, but the pageant of their own lives as well. As Duane says near the end of the film, "life is just one beauty pageant after another". The only character who seems to be outside of this struggle is the mother. Who in a way acts as the hub of the wheel without whom all the spokes would simply fly apart.
The Little Miss Sunshine Pageant serves as the vehicle for the process of group realization. The palpable absurdity of watching Olive trying to win (or even compete) in this ridiculous pageant, and the sadness of seeing her tempted to exchange her own authentic beauty for the imitation of beauty the pageant rewards, helps the group to see that their own life pursuits have been absurd and inauthentic theatre pieces as well. As they watch the little girl innocently striving towards something that will ultimately crush her, the group together comes to appreciate that those "tawdry baubles" which we seem so willing to trade our authentic selves for are actually rather meaningless and absurd.
Nietzsche wrote that it is that moment of discovery, when life has essentially defeated you and utterly destroyed you, that you are finally able to reflect honestly and realize that you have willingly exchanged your own authenticity for the "welter of mere conventionality, mere opinion, and the stock beliefs and phrases of a narcotized, self hypnotized population". It is in that moment that the only result must be a kind of "self loathing, the torture of mistrust, and the misery of him who is overcome." This becomes ones moment of awakening, and finally gives one the inner will to cast meaninglessness aside and embrace Authenticity. Nietzsche felt that it is Suffering that is the path to Authenticity, and is why he felt that one should seek Suffering as a goal.
I agree with the spirit of
this philosophy, but I disagree that one has to be destroyed in order to become
authentic. I think that a better way to look at it is that if one chooses to
place their hope and security in the inauthentic things, one will ultimately
suffer and feel destroyed as a result.
Just a thought. I would like to see it again sometime.
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