The Worldview in Everyday Media
It’s hard to believe what bits of random pop culture have shaped my world view, but here we are. Just wanted to share a few examples that have had a slow, but profound effect on my life and how I’ve chosen to live it. Philosophy shows up everywhere you let it.
Obviously I’m starting here. There are probably 10 examples I could choose that have shaped my personality. In Season 7’s “Bart Sells His Soul”, Bart learns who he is and earns his soul. The voice performances are perfect and make me tear up every time I’ve seen this episode.
You know Bart, some philosophers believe that nobody is born with a soul—that you have to earn one through suffering and thought and prayer like you did last night.
What a concept.
Joe Pera talks about growing his soul back in his show “Joe Pera Talks With You”. In the third episode of his first season he sings a song about warming an apple over the fire.
And just like that, I can feel my soul grow back.
Perhaps a soul is earned through attention and feeding and care.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
This movie is impossibly stupid, but that’s its charm. The film ends with a song called Beautiful Ride. It’s a wonderful piece of music with lyrics that are both funny and poignant. I bet you’ve seen the movie, so I won’t summarize, but I do want to quote the bit that is shockingly profound for what it is.
And then in the end
It’s family and friends
But not only yourself
It’s about the good walk
And the hard walk
And the young girls you’ve made cry
It’s about make a little music everyday ’til you die
It’s a beautiful ride
It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. And that’s the issue some folks have with their life. What does it all mean? What can I achieve? Why am I here? What is my purpose?
You’ll see that it’s all about
Sharing the good times!
Traveling not just for business!
Accepting your mortality!
This is finally what I’ve learned!
I’ve seen more of the world than I ever thought I would. I’ve played beautiful stages and felt like I’ve belonged there. I’ve been accepted by my neighbors. I’ve always brought my whole self to my work and my passions. A beautiful ride indeed.
It was a real shame when Louis CK had to go and make his oeuvre complicated to enjoy. Regardless, there’s quite a bit of worldview to be mined in his dumb show. I’ll share a few moments.
In this clip, Louis is explaining to his daughter that you should never be concerned with your neighbor’s bowl unless it’s empty. What a wonderful thought, and a solid way of living.
The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.
There’s another moment in the show where a woman he loves has to return to her home in Europe. He’s devastated and asks his neighbor (played brilliantly by Charles Grodin) who’s a doctor what he should do about it. His speech is perfection.
Boy, misery is wasted on the miserable. You think spending time with her, kissing her, having fun with her, you think that’s what it was all about? That was love? This is love, missing her. Because she’s gone, wanting to die, you’re... so lucky. You’re like a walking poem. Would you rather be some kind of a... a fantasy? Some kind of a Disney ride? Is that what you want? Don’t you see, this is the good part. This is what you’ve been digging for all this time. Now you finally have it in your hand, this sweet nugget of love. Sweet, sad love and you wanna throw it away. You’ve got it all wrong.
I thought this was the bad part.
No! The bad part is when you forget her. When you don’t care about her. When you don’t care about anything. The bad part is coming so enjoy the heartbreak while you can, for God sakes. Lucky son of a bitch, I haven’t had my heart broken since Marilyn walked out on me since I was... I was 35 years old. What I would give to have that feeling again.
Everclear “So Much for the Afterglow”
Everclear’s “So Much for the Afterglow” normalized a ton of subjects, especially for young boys and men—mental health, substance abuse & sobriety, divorce & bad parenting, faith or the lack of it—and wrapped it in radio-friendly pop rock with incredible production flourishes.
And somehow one of the themes of the record ends up being “They can’t hurt you unless you let them.”
Just a wonderful record worth revisiting. Even the interstitial about requiring more than meditation or relaxation to move beyond one’s anxiety is increasingly relevant now.
It also normalized being or feeling poor in “I Will Buy You a New Life”. Pretty wild stuff for a mainstream rock record in 1997.
As their bassist Craig Montoya said in their wonderful oral history of the record:
One of my favorite songs on this record is “One Hit Wonder”. It’s this simple little song but it’s got this kinda cool positive line in there: “They can’t hurt you unless you let them.” That will stick in your head all day long. What a great thing to have stuck in your head. I think that’s really powerful and really cool. I love this record.
I can’t wait to be watching some broad comedy in 2032 and have it change my entire world view. Until then, it’s a beautiful ride.