Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I ♥ Huckabees

We watched the movie “I ♥ Huckabees” last weekend. Although the critics did not generally like it, I would recommend it to anyone who likes movies that address philosophical issues and then likes to discuss them afterward. I had a few random thoughts from watching the film:

(warning: spoilers below)

I thought it was interesting how they generally seemed to equate Buddhism so closely with nihilism. The whole antagonist philosophy in the movie was: life is suffering, nothing is connected, nothing has meaning, embrace the nothingness. I liked that they didn’t try to take a stand that one way or the other (connectedness vs. nihilism) was right or wrong. Given my gradual movement toward Buddhism over the years, I will need to review the distinctions between this and nihilism to make sure I am eschewing the latter.

The most interesting concept in the movie was the situation that ultimately confronted all four of the main characters: Is there a single fact that would immediately unravel your sense of well-being once it was brought to your attention? (e.g. Albert “you are an orphan of indifference”, Brad “you are just as shallow as your dimwit brother”, Dawn’s appearance, etc.). I liked how they portrayed the transformations to manifest themselves differently in each case: comical (Dawn), disturbing (Brad), angry (Tommy), and confounding (Albert).

Final note. The circumstances in this film point out that it seems more logical that thoughtful people would sometimes change religions based on their situation and worldview at different stages of life. Some of the characters went through a phase where they needed a certain philosophy to get them through a turbulent time. I would think the same would apply in real life to that great majority of those people who need religion. I think the reason this does not happen in real life is that people get too comfortable with their religion (location of the building, friends, know the songs), and also don’t care to hear about the teachings of other religions, so they would never consider switching religions even though it might improve their outlook.

On a minor note, I thought it was typical that a Hollywood film trying to portray an absurd liberal extremist just couldn’t do it without rendering him as a tragically misunderstood martyr.


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