Sideways

Watched the movie Sideways last night, one of those movies that I have seen countless times and would watch again and again and again given the opportunity. I love it. I’d say it falls into the category of perfect movie. If there is a flaw in it I have not found it…yet.

For those who don’t know this movie it is about two buddies, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who go away for a week to California wine country in order to celebrate before Jack gets married. Miles is a divorced suffering writer — and boy does  he suffer. While Jack is a carefree actor who is the epitome of the power of positive thinking. He’s also a playboy hell bent on getting laid during this  his final week of bachelorhood. And he does, much to Mile’s chagrin.

I loved this movie when I first saw it, before I was divorced. I even read the book, which was descent, but I prefer the movie. However, now that I am divorced it appeals to me even more. I understand Mile’s suffering in ways that I don’t think I did before. How could I?

I’ve been thinking particularly about one part in the movie. It’s the part when Jack is going to ho0k up with the chubby waitress after Stephanie (Sandra Oh), the women he not only has sex with but decides that he might be in love with, discovers that he is getting married and bashes his nose in with her motorcycle helmet. Jack and Miles are standing there. Miles is lamenting to Jack, wanting to know why he has to hook up with this stranger after all that has happened, that is going to happen, i.e. his impending marriage. And Jack explains to Miles that he, Miles, does not understand his, Jack’s, plight. What is his plight exactly? He does not say. Only that there is a plight. Made me wonder if Jack’s optimism is merely a mask for a deeper angst, that he feels the need to sleep with strange women, in spite of the fact that he’s about to get married, to prove something, fill some void, to what? It strikes me as a jab at the whole phoniness of “staying positive” attitude, that there is something inherently shallow about. It is disingenuous, dismissive. And that Miles, the sullen, miserable man, is the more authentic human being, the more admirable one.

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[Smack!] Take that happy shiny people

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed,” is not by age a GenXer, but her new book, “Bright-Sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has underminded America,” will no doubt strike a chord with many a GenXer. It did for me anyway.

BrightSided

As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it, because one of my pet peeves is overly-optimistic people. Now, I’m sure that there will be those who brand Ehrenreich (as well as myself) bitter or angry or “negative” as is the popular slander, but that’s not the case. The opposite of “positive,” as it is jammed down our throats today, is not despair and “negativism” it is rational and realistic. Because there is a fine line between being optimistic and being naive, and the people Ehrenreich takes to task employ “postive thinking” facsism to the point of self-delusion. I’m talking people like the creepy ever-grinning Joel Osteen and the Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret,” (ALERT! ALETER!: a version of The Secrete for teens is being published).

Ehrenreich traces the roots of “postive thinking” facism back to something called New Thought, which was a reaction to strict Calvinist attitudes of the time, throug  Norman Vincent Peele and his PT Manifestor, “The Power of Positive Thinking” who really popularized the movement, up to the current day PT Gurus and iconslike Depok Chopra and Oprah Winfrey (query: why do both of their names sound like a horrible-taste vegeatable?)

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic but with out a healty dose of rationality and realism and yes even pessimis it just bullshit it can lead to such things as the recent economic collapse. The cult of PT has so permiated corporate culture that within it those who would dare to point out a problem or suggest that things are anything but peachy keen may suffer ostricization or even firing, which is what happened to the guy that worked for Lehman Brothers who tried to tell the President/Ceo whatever-the-hell his title was that the realeastate market was going to be problem and that they needed to change their business model. Two year after the dude was canned Lehman Brothers went busto and former Pres/Ceo still doesn’t seem to get it.

And why should the jackasses bother to change, to be the competent, rational and thoughtful leaders that once headed up corporations, when the gov’t will bail their asses out when they fail miserably? Hell, I’d walking around smiling all the time too if I knew if that any mistake I made would not only get me canned but might actually earn me a raise. But I’m still no donning that stupid Osteen mullet; I did my time in the 80s fashion hell, thank you very much, and I’ve not intention on returning to it.