Life: The MovieJim Goad
Police shot a black man dead after he’d lunged at an officer with a large kitchen knife in the once-unspoiled northern California town of Crescent City on August 25.
That’s what really happened, but more and more, people seem incapable of living in the real world.
The incident was captured on video, which, sure, is a visual representation of what happened, but the fact that the video has been shared countless times online, can be remixed with a musical soundtrack and twisted into all sorts of memes to the point where its new meaning is entirely divorced from the original incident, and can be replayed long after all of us also join the ranks of the dead means it’s nothing more than a simulacrum.
During the standoff with police after he’d obeyed their orders to place the large knife down in the grass and before he suddenly picked it up again and charged toward them like a mad black rhino, 38-year-old Robert Anderson referred to a popular movie franchise that made me suspect he thought he was living in a movie.
Police had responded to a call about a disabled vehicle on a twisting rural road up there in tall timber country. They arrived to find Anderson walking in the middle of the road and clutching the large knife. As they began filming, they coaxed him into stepping on the roadside and placing his knife down on the ground. Apparently Anderson had roughed up his wife, a certain Sequoia Annette, the night before. She stood off-camera as police tried to persuade Anderson to walk away from the knife, but Anderson objected to the fact that they all still had guns.
Anderson reportedly told the police:
I’m worried about everything. I lost my whole . . . look what I just did. It’s this matrix we’re living in. We’ve been lied to. We’ve all been lied to. We’ve all been lied to. . . . Like y’all in y’all uniforms and I’ve been in uniform, too, and when the truth is the truth is the truth is the truth, man. Like, y’all don’t even know who running y’all. Or do y’all know? Do y’all know who running y’all?
I’m happy to announce that I’ve never seen any of the Matrix movies, although someone recently made me aware that a fourth one is soon to be released. To me, that’s four too many.
What’s poignant to me is that Anderson seemed aware that he’d ruined his life and was headed to jail. He also had to be aware that guns were drawn on him. What seemed most relevant to him, though, is that even with his life on the line, it all reminded him of a popular movie franchise.
Around 3,000 years ago, whoever wrote Ecclesiastes said there was nothing new under the sun. I’ve often understood the term “postmodernism,” perhaps inaccurately, to mean that there is nothing new in the art or cultural worlds, that everything shat out by artisan hacks these days is some empty, ironically winking rehash of what’s been done before and better by someone nobler, someone who grew up living life directly rather than through the detritus of other manmade artifacts.
But what’s happening now seems to be worse than postmodernism, allowing that I may be entirely mangling the term. This isn’t people making bad movies because they’ve spent their lives watching better movies from the past. This is people who think that life is a movie and that movies represent real life. They have it all ass-backward.
So this isn’t postmodernism — this is post-reality.
I’m not happy to announce that I know several people who, if they were being stomped to death in the streets by a rabid mob, would spend their last conscious moments being reminded of how a very similar thing happened in some movie they saw.
About a generation ago, I noticed the more unhinged elements of the Left had, within their frighteningly nimble plastic minds, convinced themselves that words were violence and that actual violence wasn’t really violence at all; it was a political statement.
And that’s what’s happening now, but on a much larger scale: Life is a movie, and movies are real life.
I’ve seen it estimated that the average American spends a staggering seven hours every day online. Other estimates reckon that the average American — who has gotten more and more average over the arc of my life — spends around three hours every day watching television. I’m not sure how much of that time involves an overlap — whether watching streamed movies online counts as online time, or TV-watching time, or both — but if it can be assumed that people spend eight hours asleep and even eight hours and one minute online and watching TV, this means that the average American spends more of their waking hours engaging in virtual reality than they do engaging with the palpable world around them.
In contrast, Americans only spend about two hours a week being physically active.
Of all the terrors mine eyes have witnessed, that’s the most terrifying fact I’ve ever encountered. We have become passive, weak, inert, digitally babysat, meme-tarded, easily propagandized, pop-culture inbreds who live less authentic lives than the average sand flea.
And this is only the start. Once our overlords perfect the virtual-reality headgear and the mandatory implants of wetware, the same slogans and movies and taglines and remakes and sequels and prequels and remakes of sequels and spinoffs of prequels will all be playing around the clock in all of our heads to the point where there is no “you” or “me” left, and certainly no remote control to fight over because we will all be remotely controlled.
If it turns out that I’m merely paranoid, that would be the best news I’d ever heard.
About a decade ago, I allowed a family member to live with me and my wife and my son. He’d had his mind crushed by Vietnam, and his innards were slowly rotting away due to the mountains of prescription painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, muscle relaxers, and anti-anxiety drugs he funneled into his maw after a traffic accident crushed parts of his spine.
He’d awake sometime around 2 PM every day and slowly shuffle in his flip-flops and bathrobe into the TV room, where he’d sit motionless for the next twelve hours, whereupon he’d shuffle back to his bed and repeat the cycle.
From time to time, when I needed a break from work, I’d pop into the TV room to check on him and make sure he was still breathing. And every time, like a zombie, he’d slowly shift his head away from the TV and up toward me and say, “Wanna watch somethin’?”
Every time, I told him no.
Back in the 1980s, when the show COPS premiered and signaled the advent of “reality television” — an oxymoron if ever there was one — I predicted that we would know the world was ending on the day when there’s a TV show about people watching TV.
I think the world has already ended. The online world is one toxic glut of streams where people “react” to other people reacting to other people reacting to TV shows about TV shows about movies about novels about real-life events that have been mostly fictionalized.
The only honest thing I can do right now is step away from this computer screen and take a walk outside.
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This isn’t directly related to what you wrote, but is indirectly related. In the past few years, incels have complained about not being able to date or find a signifigant other. Recently, black and brown men have been complaining about getting few or no responses from white women on online dating sites. A few academics has responded to this by calling it sexual racism, when people choose to date within there own race. Some of these academics are even demanding that these sites remove racial filters. I sometimes wonder if all these people have been watching to many movies and TV, where dating comes easy, where the characters aren’t rejected by the opposite sex, and little effort is put into making connections. It’s as if, some people are trying to get reality to conform to there wishes and are frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
“A few academics has responded to this by calling it sexual racism, when people choose to date within there own race. Some of these academics are even demanding that these sites remove racial filters.”
It probably does fit the current definition of the term “racism,” which appears to be anything other than orgasmic enthusiasm at the mere sight or mention of any person, work of art, song, cultural artifact, or idea that is not associated with the Caucasian Persuasion.
Also, if the dating apps did take out the racial filters, you can expect the same result that occurred during that brief but memorable period when everyone online was tagging black-owned businesses. All that accomplished was to let rational-thinking whites (and let’s face it, probably a lot of blacks too) know which businesses to avoid, which they did. So that practice came to a very quiet halt.
You are correct. They are attempting to make interacial marriages and couples look more common than they are. You see this in commercials. I believe the entertainment media is also trying to show that whites who socialize and associate with only other whites as uncommon or something that isn’t trendy or fashionable. Which, it isn’t, but so what?
It’s amazing how completely unreal their portrayal of “reality” is. An alien visiting Earth and learning only what is shown on TV would think America is 60% black and 70 to 80% of couples are interracial. A quick search reveals that only about 17% of marriages are interracial.
The UK is exactly the same in the representation of minorities on the telly. Every couple is of mixed race, mixed race kids frolic happily, and wise black people set their fumbling, mumbling, stumbling, grumbling idiot Caucasian counterparts right on every subject or product under the sun. Silly whitey!
Google is pimping this shit like fuck. Right now in the UK they have billboards everywhere with the phrase “Why is Black History Month in October?” as one to be searched. It’s fucking ridiculous how much extremist leftist American propagandist culture has raped and murdered the culture of this island.
This apparently confuses some young people, blacks, and other non whites. When attractive white females spurn your advances, when whites don’t want to socialize with you, when whites are more competent at work and aren’t dumb like they are on TV, when most doctors, pilots, and professionals are white in real life as oppossed to movies, I believe reality confuses a lot of people who get ther cues from the entertainment media.
“So this isn’t postmodernism — this is post-reality.” <<< That’s postmodernism.
The replacement of objective reality with subjective narrative.
It’s why nothing makes sense anymore and facts don’t matter.
Good article, Mr. Goad.
The one thing that gets me is having the TV on or everyone on their cell phone at some sort of social gathering. I was at a family member’s for a BBQ, I bought all the meat and did the grilling to boot, and the TV’s on and someone opted to sit on the couch and watch the game as opposed to sit down at the table and socialize. I get it, some people really like to watch the game, but this was a pre-season game and you’re family from out of state is in town to visit.
Out for Grandma’s birthday? All the nieces, nephews and in-laws are all on their cellphones.
There’s a bar near where I live and they have a chalk drawing sign that says, “no wi-fi, talk to each other” and it shows male and female stick figures smiling and holding hands.
The show about watching people watch TV sounds like an allusion to Beavis and Butthead. Travis LeBlanc has a great article on B&B here on CC:
Beavis and Butthead might be the ultimate 90s show. I don’t think any piece of pop culture better encapsulates the Zeitgeist of the End of History better than Beavis and Butthead. The premise of the show was simple. It was two low-IQ teenage boys who spent all day watching TV and laughing at the stupid stuff they saw. Occasionally, they would go to the convenience store and stumble into some kind of misadventure on the way there. This was the entirety of their existence. The gag was that this made them archetypical “losers.”
I noticed that, pre pandemic, a lot of people in bars and nightclubs would be on there cell phones. It doesn’t suprise me that one would eventualy put up a no wi-fi sign.
Fiddling with a cell phone gives one something to do while standing around:
There’s a club if you’d like to go
you could meet somebody who really loves you
so you go, and you stand on your own
and you leave on your own
and you go home, and you cry
and you want to die
The Smiths, How Soon is Now, 1984
Morrissey is a good poet.
Another one who’s been getting endless shit from the PC fuckheads because he won’t kowtow to their shitty dogma, and says what he likes, whether they like it or not. A real rarity these days. Unfortunately. He loves pissing the self-righteous pricks off, too, and trolls them regularly. This song says it all:
I grew up in The Golden Age of television. That was pretty good. If you like CRAP!
I don’t remember us having much use for any of it. No family gathering around the boob tube.
Neighbors had the first color TV on the planet and would have us over to watch things like The Wizard Of Oz.
Of course, that was horrible. Those demonic winged monkeys? Jesus Christ.
My war-scarred father and I enjoyed The Nairobi Trio on The Ernie Kovacs Show.
That was about it.
Oh, and F Troop from the 60’s, a docudrama on The Old West.
That’s about it.
I am sorry. I just disagree. “The Wizard of Oz” was not crap and growing up in the 1960s near Chicago, one of the stations played it once a year and every year they played it, my dad would make popcorn and the whole family would sit in the living room and watch it while munching on the popcorn. This was the same movie that came out in 1939 before television. I thought it was a beautiful way to grow up. I think also TV series like”Andy Griffith” and “Jackie Gleason and the Honeymooners” were beautiful as well. This did not stunt my intellectual growth. I would always read as well. While I am not nearly as well read as many of the writers on counter-currents, I am pretty well read. I have no smart phone and I just read websites like CC, Vdare, Amren, Unz every day. I also read hard-cover books. Nothing I read whether on line or in books is “crap”.
I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek. Loved The Honeymooners and The Wizard Of Oz gave us “Over The Rainbow.” Worth the price of admission.
Disturbing flying monkeys notwithstanding.
Jack Benny, Rochester -great.
I in no way regret growing up in that time.
I’m sure I read this a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe it just the IMDB precise of the movie.
Jim wrote, “This isn’t people making bad movies because they’ve spent their lives watching better movies from the past. This is people who think that life is a movie and that movies represent real life. They have it all ass-backward.”
Duuude, you totally hit on the theme of the fantastic 1996 Jim Carrey film “The Cable Guy.” Wow, what a flick. Carrey’s best, in my view, after “The Truman Show.” I’m glad you’ve brought up the subject again, because it’s an important one. I’m old enough to remember when “reality” used to sort of be reality. Those days are LONG gone, though. Sayonara.
Now, with the post-reality you’ve noted, with Covid, “Joe Biden,” George Floyd killing a policeman (Is that what happened? … whatever), and on and on, I just want to know: “How is it going to end?” Point me to a movie to answer that one.
Planet of the Apes
That is a good example.
“Planet of the Apes.”
Richard, that’s a great one! Thanks. This country really has turned into that.
It’s over Johnny!!!
If the collapse happens quick enough, we could possibly start over. People would not get there cultural values and perceptions from entertainment. If the grid, internet, etc, went down, it would suck in some aspects. However, people would have to make real connections and form real relationships with other people, mainly other white people. You would not have the government pressuring you to interact with people you didn’t want to interact with. You wouldn’t have Hollywood attempting to condition society to what is and isn’t acceptable.
The “Matrix” is a good “postmodern” spinoff on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave but that doesn’t mean you should act like a dumb “rhino” in front of the police. Jim is right about that.
This black guy is some poor excuse for a Neo. He was obviously suffering from shock after taking the red pill only to be taken out himself by Agent Smith and his clones.
That is an interesting take. I always thought the Matrix was kind of a metaphor for Descartes Evil Demon Argument for radical skepticism of the external world.. But I can see the Plato’s Cave interpretation now that you mention it.
About 20 years ago, I noticed at my workplace that people talked about movies and TV series and actors with a certain awe and reverence–feelings which I thought were more properly suited to serious things such as true heroes, or religion, or family. And the Oscars and Grammys, or whatever they’re called! People arranged their lives so that they could watch those monstrous awards shows! And they would spend the next morning talking about who was wearing what dress.
TV has been a big deal since the 1950’s, but people place so much more importance and seriousness in it now. Back in the 60’s we knew that “Gilligan’s Island” was just something to watch for a bit of fun.
This wife-beater’s story is better analogized to Falling Down with a race-lift.
I just read a book of raccoon anecdotes from the late 50s/early 60s called Frosty, A Raccoon to Remember, by Harriet E. Weaver. In a California state redwood park filled with human-adjusted coons, a ranger and his family lived in a cabin and splurged on their first TV. Right away, they noticed a raccoon would sit on the porch railing and watch TV with them through the window. It was cute and all, but a few weeks later the raccoon sickened and stopped eating and almost died, and would do things like faint and fall off the railing. They wondered what was wrong until the ranger’s wife realized she had rearranged the room so that a reading lamp blocked most of the screen from the coon’s view. They moved it and everyone lived happily ever after.
I’m not sure how correct this is. I think the ‘average American’ (which can be extended to any country in the Western world, within certain parameters) analogy is kind of meaningless. What is an ‘average’ American? Aside from that, I think the role of the net in modern life is maybe overstated a bit. I mean, not everybody has Twitter and that shite, it’s just that the ones who do, the mentally ill shut-in grievance factory wankstains, make such a loud noise for attention they can’t get in real life…that they seem over-represented and more numerous than they actually are.
Like the author, I have never seen a Matrix film and never will. I find the idea of Americans using stuff like ‘redpill’ (which I learned about online) as the foundation for political beliefs to be utterly bizarre, to be honest. I certainly won’t be taking philosophical education from Keanu Reeves! That would be most non-non-non awesome, totally bogus, dude! Wyld Stallyns! (Insert air guitar solo here)(Laughing)
As for the black guy shot and killed in the story here, it sounds to me like he might have incipient, undiagnosed schizophrenia. People like that have problems differentiating reel from real life. Or maybe he was wasted on drugs. I don’t think that there are deluded dissociated armies of people out there who truly believe they are living in the fucking Matrix, whatever that truly even is.
It’s just that mental illness, its diagnosis, and stories like this are more common now, because we hear more about them now. How many nuts were like this we never heard about before the net? I don’t think there’s anything new under the sun. The 1998 JG Ballard interview (can’t remember if I posted it before, but it’s fascinating and absolutely worth reading) I link to below is a great wee primer on it all.
This whole ‘humanity shutting the door on reality’ thing has been predicted for the last quarter of a century, but has not come to fruition in any real, macrocosmic way yet, if indeed it ever will. T o me, that is. Still, you never know. Some people do seem better connected to reality than others. This has always been the case. Substitute ‘religion’ for ‘the net/Matrix’ and run with it.
William Gibson predicted this back in the early 80s. One of his novels referenced a 24/7/365 soap opera that welfare people would keep tuned in to during every waking moment.
I haven’t been to a movie in years, probably 8 or 10. The last movie was “La-La Land”, because I live here, and it was billed as a modern musical. I wasn’t disappointed — music was wonderful, and it didn’t have an ‘happily-ever-after ending. The next summer, the Hollywood Bowl devoted a entire evening to an audience ‘sing-along’ — the place was sold-out — of the songs while it played onscreen above. People actually do want the old, feel-good movies, and they try everything to find them again. But they’re gone.
And I agree completely with the cellphone insanity — it hit me squarely when I was staying in Oxford once, at a college that rents its dorms during summer. I had walked to the corner of a major intersection, when a tour bus pulled up and spilled a load of students from Asia onto the sidewalk beside the Randolph Hotel — one of a few 5-star hotels in England — and across the street from the Ashmolean Museum — one of the finest in England — and facing Madelyn College across the street. But all of them had their nose stuck in their ‘devices’ instead of taking in their surroundings. I’ll never forget that scene. It was a perfect glimpse into modern culture, and the state of education today, wrapped into one. I, too, fear for our future.
Modern society seems like it took John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever and molded its entire philosophy around it. “Nothing is real! Living is easy with eyes closed! Misunderstanding all you see! It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out, it doesn’t matter much to me.” All that’s missing is the addendum of: “…and that’s a good thing.”
One other thing. I don’t think the phrase ‘post-reality’ means anything, personally. That would mean that we have gone past reality, and that reality no longer exists. I don’t believe that, at all, as it’s clearly wrong, and deranged. If reality did not exist, commenting on how it did not exist would mean nothing, and we could not run a society, or even a website, cos communal reality would just break down, and nothing would mean anything, including commentary on the whole abortion.
It’s like that stupid recent hopefully-past recent phrase ‘post-truth,’ as if truth does not exist anymore, which is clearly insanity. People have always been ‘post-truth’ (liars) and ‘post-reality’ (lunatics). It’s just that we hear about this shit more these days, unfortunately. I also think, as a side salad of thought, that some people who complain about ‘post’-anything, but who make a living from writing on the net, are complaining too hard, trying to differentiate themselves from the fruit loops who think Spock is real, Big Bang Theory is a documentary, and Star Wars will save their lives. I do not include Mr. Goad in this, cos he seems pretty clearly rooted in reality to me, albeit of a race-hate-grift-paying type. Methinks the dissociated ladies in question doth protest too much. 🙂
“Around 3,000 years ago, whoever wrote Ecclesiastes”. That would be King Solomon.
No one will ever lowjack the masses and install wetwear into everyone by force. The entire exploit is based on people being convinced they want the tech that consumes them. It’s their “choice” and they have to keep it up to date once they are controlled by the fear of missing out (FOMO).
The black guy’s name was Robert Anderson, but he’s referred to as “Robertson” several times in the article.
Also, the Vietnam veteran that’s referred to in Goad’s 2013 article “The Art of Not Working Yourself to Death” is now (possibly) revealed to be a family member who lived with Goad’s family around two years prior to that article.
Lastly, Goad once opined the director Martin Scorsese shot movies in a way that showed he grew up in a then-violent part of Manhattan, and that the director Quentin Tarantino shot movies in a way that showed he grew up watching movies by Scorcese. The former thus lived life more directly, the latter more vicariously, “through the detritus of other manmade artifacts” (at least in Goad’s view).
Overall, I think this is a good article.
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