Student of Pop Culture Philosophy or The Examined Life
I’m one of those people. You know the ones who read deeper meaning into things. Like the whole Hunger Games series being a statement about government and the condition of the world today. I am not a hyper political person but I see themes in things. I pick up on connectedness in ideas and concepts. I read too much into too many things. I over think things sometimes when my mind is allowed to wander, but it grants me broader vision.
This brings me to my version on philosophy. I love movies. I am not genre specific, not into horror movies, but I like movies that either make me happy or make me think. On the make me think side I am either trying to solve something or I am evaluating life, the world and my role in both.
Pop Culture Philosophy was not found to be defined in my quick google search, but I am sure I did not invent the term. What I am referring to is that pop culture provides many resources for channeling our thoughts toward a philosophical journey. One of my personal favorites is first the book, then the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”. Now I am now about to take a world trip to Italy, India and Bali to indulge my love of pasta, discover my faith and find love, but the it provoke thought. For me this pop culture reference made me put a magnifying glass on myself. After all, the unexamined life and so on, Socrates would be proud, so would my philosophy professor if I could remember his name from 20 years ago.
I recommend reading the book by Elizabeth Gilbert (Amazon.com for 12.99).
I do enjoy the movie, but critics did not agree with me. Elizabeth reaches a critical point in her life. In her circumstances she is able to leverage her career as a writer to pursue a year abroad pursuing carbs in Italy, Faith in India and Balance in Indonesia. She encounters and embraces many obstacles and opportunities for growth along the way. You see her hitting a wall and find yourself saying “Liz, no!”, then she rights her course. You find yourself frustrated with her, then laughing at yourself for how she mirrors you own human experience. Then if you are smart, you apply the lessons.
Unfortunately, I am not at a point with my writing where I can take off to a few countries to reset myself and return to write a best seller. (Happy to get those notes Liz.) The lesson is there for all of us. Focus on what matters and needs healing. My pop culture philosophy take away was for balance. It was also to become more in tune with my faith. Both of these elements make me happier. I’ll quote Liz directly (after all, she is the best selling author), “I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call ‘The Physics of The Quest’- a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: ‘If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself…then truth will not be withheld from you.’ Or so I’ve come to believe.”
Another pop culture reference, “Bad Moms” recently released in theaters. The language is bad in this film. It is crazy funny, I will admit. There is one point in the film where Mila Kunis character talks about not being perfect. It resonates with me. Another point she refuses to do her kids project. When did it become a parents job to do their kids homework and projects. I have an issue with the whole everyone gets a trophy after the age of about 6 or 7. Learning to lose in my youth did some import things to me. 1. It made me work harder for things I really wanted. 2. It made me good sport. 3. It taught me to be gracious. Everyone is good at something. The star athlete cannot write a paper like I can. The beauty queen who is still 105 pounds, can’t cook like I can. We ALL have our strengths. God made each of us unique, blessed with specific gifts. Why do I want to diminish that by acting like we are all the same in our skill set. Let’s focus on sharpening skills and seeing sameness in races, cultures etc.
While I am on my little soap box, I think kids should have time to be kids and not have 3-4 hours of homework at night. I also think we should teach children more than a test. That is not pop culture philosophy, that is Mom Philosophy.
Here is the point of my post. Dig a little deeper into your Pop Culture guilty pleasures. No I am not giving you an excuse to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, or Battlestar Galactica (1978 version currently cued up). I am asking you to look for a deeper message in what you watch and it what is being watched by your family. If there is no value at all, if you cannot take one redeeming lesson from what you are watching is it really worth your time?
My final example. American History X is a violent graphic portrayal of white supremacist. the movie shows how a young neo-Nazi guilty of murder comes to understand how wrong he was about his radical racial mindset. Unfortunately, his understanding is much too late to save lives of his victims and others influenced by the hate and rhetoric he displayed. He has to live with the ripple of his ignorance. This movie is disturbing, but I insisted on watching it with my sons when they were old enough to understand it. It was an important lesson for my sons and necessary conversation for my family.
Not everyone will agree on content of their pop culture philosophy lessons. I am not here to nit pick content, I am here to encourage you to have conversations using the tools you have available. Examine your life and make Socrates proud.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates