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Thread: Greatness

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    Question Greatness

    x-posted @ INTPc

    I was watching the Nostalgia Critic a few days ago compare Tim Burton's Batman with The Dark Knight. I agreed with some, and disagreed with a lot. One part that really stopped me was when he criticized the speeches the characters make in the movie. He said he loved them, but it wasn't realistic.

    Really? That's a valid criticism?

    A movie where, as one character states, has a billionaire that dresses as a giant bat who as "one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands". Opposed by a homicidal manic who puts on clown makeup and is able to stage vast complex plans with insane accomplices. And the talking isn't realistic?

    Does anyone think that Elizabethan people broke into blank verse soliloquies to explain their actions either?

    I reread MacBeth the other night. Upon learning his wife has died, MacBeth says:

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time.
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    Does anyone think that is a realistic reaction to the death of a spouse? Yet those lines are among the most celebrated in the English language.

    I'm not saying the Dark Knight screenplay is Shakespeare, but if you like something, why dismiss it as unrealistic? Especially when it is surrounded by the fantastical?

    In some sense, it feels as if society has created a backlash against anything that attempts much beyond the ordinary. Anytime someone doesn't appreciate the latest dumbshit Transformers movie, they are derided as pretentious and out of touch with the common man.

    This phenomenon has even been identified in former British colonies as the Tall Poppy Syndrome. Every great person must be scrutinized to find their feet of clay.

    What is the root of this? Crab mentality?

    I admit to some of this myself. I enjoy rooting for the underdog. When the New England Patriots were going for an undefeated season in the Super Bowl two years ago (something that hadn't been done during my lifetime), I rooted like hell against them. I didn't care so much about the other team winning, as much as I wanted to see the Patriots fail.

    In part, I saw the Patriots as arrogant and undeserving of that accomplishment. Was that really true? Do we always see the successful as arrogant? Above their station?

    When the high paid executives and financial wizards trigger a global recession with their scheming, one might find justification in these attitudes. That doesn't explain why people celebrate creative mediocrity, or why intellectuals are dismissed as "eggheads".

    I'm not so sure of the implications myself, I'm just curious at this point. What do you think?

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    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    The entire reason mankind creates is on account of the tremendous chasm between our subjective and objective experiences of reality. You'll forgive me if I sound pat, but if life were "like the films", there would be no reason to make films!
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

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    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    I instinctually try to find beauty where most people don't see it, and see ugliness where most people can't find it. I think it stems from wanting to balance out arbitrary bias (my nemesis?). In the end though, that says nothing about my or anyone else's enjoyment of something we find great.

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    Feline Member kelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    He said he loved them, but it wasn't realistic.

    Really? That's a valid criticism?

    A movie where, as one character states, has a billionaire that dresses as a giant bat who as "one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands". Opposed by a homicidal manic who puts on clown makeup and is able to stage vast complex plans with insane accomplices. And the talking isn't realistic?

    ...
    I'm not saying the Dark Knight screenplay is Shakespeare, but if you like something, why dismiss it as unrealistic? Especially when it is surrounded by the fantastical?
    I think that in this case, it's more to do with the fact that he's a critic. It's always easy to nitpick at *something*, and that's more or less his job. Or, at least, I can see it as a critic-pattern to focus on the negative to avoid being a "fluffy-bunny" that loves everything and nobody wants to read. The funny thing here is that it's likely that much of what he enjoyed is what makes a superhero movie "unrealistic". I agree... lack of realism certainly isn't a particularly useful factor when considering fantasy entertainments.

    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    In some sense, it feels as if society has created a backlash against anything that attempts much beyond the ordinary.
    ...
    I admit to some of this myself. I enjoy rooting for the underdog.
    ...
    Do we always see the successful as arrogant? Above their station?
    ...
    I'm not so sure of the implications myself, I'm just curious at this point. What do you think?
    I'm not certain either... but I suspect that part of it has to do with an unconscious effort to maintain our own self-esteem. By placing other people permanently above ourselves in our own minds seems to signify a "giving up" that's probably pretty psychologically damaging... so it seems reasonable that we have defense mechanisms to protect our own self-worth. So at least if we're not as successful as Bill Gates, in our own minds we can continue to move forward in our own lives.

    For myself, I tend to like rooting for the underdog too, unless I have some sort of self-interest in the favored party (again, related to self-esteem... if I can relate to the favored party, there's some sort of vicarious reversal of the "root for the underdog" mentality). I rooted against the Patriots in their pre-SuperBowl undefeated season too, even though they were once my favorite team. At the time, I had no particular reason to root for either team... no prominent players were people I'd known or had any connection with, not my hometown team, etc. When watching the Olympic swimming competitions last summer, however, I *did* root for Michael Phelps, who was certainly not the underdog. It's not that I had any dislike for his competitors, but I found it easier to identify with him (probably egged on by NBC's coverage, admittedly), and so my underdog preference was overcome. But even now, thinking about it, if I actually put myself in the shoes of one of his competitors (except Cavic, the guy who clearly lost and is still whining about it) - I can look at the life-changing circumstances that a single gold medal would have made for the underdog and sort of wish it'd happened.

    Anyway, not as succinct as I was shooting for, but maybe a bit of worthwhile stuff in there.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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