“Another one from the vaults.” Dr. Frank-N-Furter
In high school, a group of friends and I made a series of silent movies for a film and video class. I though they were ridiculous enough to share here. I will share a few of them throughout the week.
I recently made a set of three drawings related to different musical artists and their music videos.
Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster
C2C – Delta
Porter Robinson – Shelter
Through my life, I have held a number of philosophies that guide my behaviors. At one point, I was super obsessed with Ayn Rand and was a die-hard objectivist (the philosophy that Rand developed). I found objectivism to be logically sound, but I wasn’t happy. Why bother hold a philosophy if it doesn’t make you happy though? In high school I tried to delve into Catholicism, but that was really short lived. I know many people that are happy Catholics, but god damn did that not work out for me.
However, over the past year I have developed a new philosophy of my own. Philosophy might be a big term for this idea I have, though. It doesn’t provide any answers to why we exist, what the purpose of life is, or what is good and what is wrong. Instead, my idea is more of a guiding light on how to lead your life.
I think of my life as a story being read. I would love for people to write books about me and for people to read them, but that is not what I mean when I say this. Your story being read is simply imaginative. Sometimes I like to imagine that I am playing the main character (or a character) in some story that is being read in an alternate universe. The person reading the story has no idea that I am real or the setting I am living in is real.
My story being fictional is important to this philosophy. It is important because think of how you feel about villains in real life vs. villains in a fictional story. You might think Darth Vader is an awesome character, regardless of how horrifying he is. However, you probably don’t think the same about Joseph Stalin.
With this, the goal of storyism is simple: be the character you would find interesting in a fictional story. I imagine that if others adopted storyism, they could have different goals from it though. I imagine that most people would aim to be the hero of a story, but that is not my goal. I have no interest in being a hero or a villain in my story. I am more interested in being the interesting character that may do good things and may do bad things (or at least perceptibly good or bad to others). The important part is that they do interesting things (or at least things that are interesting to me). So far this philosophy has done me pretty good. Definitely adds more excitement into my life than objectivism or Catholicism did.
However, my character has no interest in convincing others to adopt Storyism 🙂 He simply wanted to share his thoughts on it. Chances are I am not the only person who has had this idea, so if you have heard it before, leave it in the comments!
Since The Last Jedi hit theaters, there has been a lot of talk on the movie. Talking about your love or dislike of new Star Wars movies seems to be becoming a treasured national past time! However, there has been criticism on The Last Jedi that I think is missing the point of, not only Star Wars, but stories in general.
The most heard piece of criticism I have observed about the film is that the characters act irrationally. There are a few ways in which people have complained about this:
- Vice Admiral Holdo should just tell Poe the plan.
- The Casino Planet (Canto Bight) was pointless.
- The Last Jedi betrayed Luke’s character. (From Mark Hamill himself)
All these complaints have a similar theme of being about a character making a mistake. Holdo most likely made a mistake by not telling Poe her plan. Poe most likely made a mistake by having Finn and Rose go to Canto. Luke most likely made a mistake when he went into hiding, and he definitely made a mistake when he tried to kill Ben Solo. Making mistakes actually seems to be a big theme of the movie.
However, characters making mistakes in plots is a vital to stories, and the fact that we can’t accept characters making mistakes probably says more about ourselves than the movie. First, I want you to consider why we like stories or why stories are important. Stories are meant to entertain, definitely, but they are also meant to teach us something. Sometimes they aim to teach us something about ourselves and sometimes they try to teach us something about the world around us.
The original trilogy of Star Wars is meant to teach us something about ourselves. While there is a story of rebellion vs. authoritarianism, the plot is pretty un-political and wrapped mostly around the lives of the main characters. We are suppose to see ourselves in Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and (hopefully not) C-3PO. When Luke doesn’t want to join the rebellion because he has “too much work to do”, this is suppose to remind us of ourselves. Many times in our lives we push away big opportunities because we don’t want to change the status quo or at least feel bogged down by it. When Han Solo decides to join the rebellion, regardless of payment, it is supposed to point out actions that may not be so different from our own.
The prequels are a bit different. For the most part, the sequels are about a grand all-encompassing plot. While Anakin Skywalker is the main character, a lot of what we see has more to do with the universe itself than Anakin Skywalker, as a person. The prequels are much more political, and seem to want to teach us more about the world around us than about ourselves. The Republic was a standard of justice yet it got warped to become the evil Galactic Empire. The prequels examine the steps of how something like that can happen. However, do many of us really see ourselves in Anakin Skywalker? He is a hard character to relate to.
When it comes to the new trilogy, I think it is more a fusion of the two. It is meant to teach us something about the world around us (like with the scene showing Canto Bight), but it is also suppose to teach us something about ourselves.
Luke is not the most admirable character in the beginning of The Last Jedi. He is annoying and you just want to reach through the screen and shake him around a bit. But he isn’t evil and he isn’t unrelatable. When we saw Luke on screen as a defeated and depressed hero, Mark Hamil and many Star Wars fans hated him. But why? Is it so unrealistic that a hero can have flaws? Can make huge mistakes? Can make things worse off? It seems all too real to me, but we hate to see it that way because it makes us look in the mirror. We all view ourselves as the hero of our story, but, god damn, we are flawed. But we don’t want to be reminded of this, so we pass it off as a plot hole that makes absolutely no sense!
Same with Poe and Holdo. Is it really unheard of for military leaders to have large errors in judgement? Is it really hard to believe that Poe was probably acting inappropriately? Poe is still a hero, as is Holdo, even if they made mistakes.
If anything, characters acting irrational is the most realistic part of the The Last Jedi. Our lives are full of event after event of ourselves, our family, our coworkers, our friends, and our enemies making mistakes. Yet, for some reason when we see people being stupid on the big screen, we pretend it doesn’t make sense. I think it is because we don’t want to admit our own mistakes.
It is easy for us to judge characters actions as irrational because we see the entire context. We see what is happening in the enemy ship. We see what is happening in Poe’s room. We see what is happening on Canto Bight. And we also know we are watching a movie so the plot must go in certain ways. However, the character, hypothetically, do not know any of this just like we do not see the entire context of our own lives. Thus we, like a character in a movie, make many errors. If characters in a movie made constant rational actions, that would probably be the most unbelievable movie ever (and it is honestly why I find Superman, and characters like Superman) to be the most boring fictional characters ever created).
There are two pop culture items I would like to point you to: The Founder and Hamilton. Both have a significant lesson in them. If you are unfamiliar with these pieces, The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who franchised the McDonalds business empire. Hamilton is a Broadway musical about the trials and hardships of Alexander Hamilton in his attempts to attain a legacy for himself in creating a robust financial system in the United States.
Being libertarians, I am sure most of you have positive feelings about The Founder and negative feelings about Hamilton, however if you are looking for a political message in these pieces, I think you are missing the point. They tell the exact same story. They are both stories of a person who busted their ass to reach their goals. It is the entire theme of both stories.
In Hamilton, they describe Alexander as the “$10 dollar founding father without a father who got a lot farther by working a lot harder; by being a lot smarter; by being a self-starter.” Throughout the play he is incredibly ambitious with his famous line being “there are a million things I haven’t done.” There is even a whole song called “Non-Stop”, which is all about Alexander Hamilton’s work ethic. He never stopped writing. He never stopped advocating. The man was non-stop.
In The Founder, Ray Kroc spends 50% of the movie fighting the McDonalds brothers who drag their feet time and time again. He separates from his friends whom he describes as the “idle rich”, and decides to make better friends with immigrants, door-to-door salesmen, and entrepreneurs. He fills his company with people who know how to hustle and know that the hustle never ends. At the end of the movie he gives one of my new favorite movie speeches:
“Now, I know what you are thinking: how the heck does a 52 year-old, over the hill, milkshake machine salesmen build a fast food empire with 1600 restaurants in 50 states, 5 foreign countries, with an annual revenue within the neighborhood of about 700 million dollars? One word: persistence. Nothing in this world can take the place of good ole persistence. Talent won’t. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius won’t. Unrecognized genius is practically a cliché. Education won’t. The world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all powerful.”
Video found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocXP1pLeqLM
These are powerful words, and they cannot be understated. Nothing replaces hard work. We constantly in our society use the terms “work smarter, not harder.” What a crime! This is bullshit, and is robbing millennials of greatness. The first half is absolutely correct. The second is the destruction of virtue and achievement. The phrase should be “work smarter, work harder”.
And the unfortunate truth is libertarians are neither working smarter or harder. We certainly don’t work smarter! We fight unnecessary battles. We die on hills we will never win. We make bed fellows with despicable monsters. This is us not working smarter.
We certainly don’t work harder. I have spent the past two weeks going school to school in the Northeast recruiting students to join the fight for a free and prosperous future. As I walk these campuses, I see the schools plastered with fliers from the College Democrats and socialist clubs. At NYU, I saw 3 different socialist clubs at their club fair. The socialists are preaching on the greens of their campus, working to have dozens of events every month, and forming coalitions. On some of the campuses I visit there are libertarian clubs and on some there aren’t. Either way they are invisible.
I see groups across the nation run two group meetings a semester. TWO!? I see some never meeting at all. I see groups that think putting up 5 fliers is exposure on campus. I see activists that invite 10 people to a Facebook event and think they have created good traction. Many are guilty.
Libertarians constantly make fun of socialists because they think they are holding positions of non-work and laziness. Well guess what? They are working harder than us! They are working smarter than us! And it is so damn obvious. The American revolutionaries gave their lives, all their comforts, and their safety to attain liberty and independence. We can hardly dedicate 3 hours on a Thursday.
In order to be an activist, you have to be active. Our mission is one of incredible difficulty and persistence. We will fail over and over again, and we won’t stop until we attain every last success. We will be tired. Our feet and backs will hurt and ache. Our brains will be fried. But, whether we succeed or fail, we will know that we gave our everything to fight for human prosperity. We will be able to hold our heads high.
Looking at the strategy of conservatives and libertarians in the United States, one can plainly see welfare activism is a strong focus. But is this the most important topic to promote the free market? We promote the ideas of the free market in order to bring about human flourishing and prosperity, but are welfare programs the main obstacle holding us back from our full potential in trade? I think not. Actually, I think that focusing on this, instead of other facets of the economy, is quite dangerous.
People generally join welfare programs for one of two reasons: 1) they need it to put food on the table. That is to say that they truly need it to survive either because of some disability, some unfortunate circumstance, or what have you. And 2) they see a profit of some kind. This is to say that they see they can make some kind of cash value with doing minimal work or less work then they would need to do otherwise to make that cash. Both are noble causes. In the market we are all trying to both survive and profit. It is what motivates us to fulfill our own wants and needs.
However, those that are for the free market generally demonize those that use these programs. This is a flaw in strategy and in principle. Most of those that promote the ideas of liberalism and the market say that we are all self-interested and we all take actions to advance ourselves and meet our goals. Why is this any different from those that use welfare programs? They are doing exactly what we say is natural. They are either seeking survival or profit or both.
Generally, the response to this is that people who use welfare are not mutually benefiting those around them. Mutual benefit is a natural consequence of market action, but it is not the goal of the actors in a market. When an entrepreneur sells his product or service, they are not intending to benefit those around them from their service, but they do regardless. This follows the logic of the popular Adam Smith quote about the baker not selling his labor and products for the good of his customers, but instead for his own self interest. The mutual benefit between the baker and his customers is simply happy coincidence that should be expected from voluntary action.
The same motivation is behind the actions of those that enroll in welfare programs. The only difference is that mutual benefit (a positive sum gain) doesn’t result from the transaction. The transaction is neutral sum. Value is taken from one and given to another in similar amounts. Someone benefits the exact same amount that someone is negated. However, this is not because of the actions of those that are enrolled. They are doing vaguely the same thing as the baker in the Adam Smith quote. They are taking a tally on the environment or setting they are in and choosing an option that is open to them that gives them the best profit (or the perceived best profit). Therefore the issue doesn’t lie in the receiver, but the taker and giver. The taker and giver in this scenario is obviously the government agency that facilitates the program.
Demonizing the welfare recipient ignores key principles of the liberal philosophy (particularly that people are self-interested) and is clearly bad strategy. The free market is what could help these recipients the most. Yet they are ostracized from the ideas by bombastic and fiery conservatives and libertarians that accuse them of laziness, idleness, or what have you. They aren’t lazy. They are self-interested.
However, there is one more key flaw to fighting welfare programs as a free market supporter. Though, it rests in a strategic hypothetical. What if the market cannot bear the introduction of unemployed or partially employed welfare recipients? What if there are not enough jobs in a particular area? What if the market doesn’t meet demand? People would suffer immensely. In a world with no welfare programs, these people could potentially starve if there isn’t a charity willing to give them support. This should be unacceptable to all people promoting the ideas of freedom and liberty. Not only think of the direct human suffering, but imagine how quickly people will demonize the ideas of the free market if just one person that used to be on welfare starved. The proponents of socialism and immense state control would flourish and our hope of liberty will be lost. We would have won, temporarily, the fight against the welfare state only to lose in the long run not only the welfare fight, but most likely every other fight for more freedom.
This is not to say that libertarians and conservatives should end the fight against the welfare state. It is an abomination and one that creates networks of dependency to the state. This is to say that this fight should be put on a backburner of sorts and we should focus on creating a market environment that would be guaranteed to support these people when welfare is removed.
This means fighting the regulatory state. The regulatory state suffocates our markets to a degree that forces otherwise productive people to be enrolled into welfare programs. I think of licensing laws that force people that want to do something as simple as braiding hair to get a permit. I imagine there are a handful of people that would love (or at least could) braid hair for money, but cannot due to a long, laborious permitting process. I think of licensing laws for florists, coffin makers, and hair dressers. I understand that we all want beautiful bouquets and great haircuts, but to create huge permitting processes for these professions is ludicrous. It isolates people from our markets and forces people into welfare programs.
While I see libertarians, in part, focus on the regulatory state, not so much can be said about conservatives who believe in the free market. The Republican Party’s main focus for years has been cutting welfare. There is hardly a word to be said about regulation, at least on the national stage. Perhaps they have their own strategy that I am not seeing. While libertarians have, in part, had some focus on regulation, they are not perfect in this either. As it goes, libertarians will generally parrot that of their conservative free market allies, even if only to form a coalition.
To me, this is not an arm chair discussion either. This is not simply a whimsical conversation about how I want libertarians or conservatives to act. I truly believe this distinction is the difference between fulfilling a more free society, and the possible end of liberalism in the United States. If free market advocates win the fight against welfare, the long-term results could be devastating for the free market. If free market advocates lose the fight against welfare, they will have only wasted their time as the government continues to grow. If free market supporters shift the fight to regulation instead of welfare, we could have the potential to win both fights.