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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Cheesier by the Dozen

In real life, we know good physics when we see it, and wouldn't buy it if folks told us they could move faster than light, have x-ray vision, and can lift boulders with their little finger. Of course, as we all know, only Superman can do that, but even Superman must adhere to the physics of, well, being Superman. For example, if Superman can see through lead, shrug off a dose of krytonite, and cheats on his taxes, we would respond in disbelief, and ask for our money back for our Superman comics or Superman video. Even how Superman does super things must follow implicit rules. For example, Superman just can't go back in time by snapping his fingers, but must first circle the earth real, real fast, and even then he must have a good reason, like helping a girl friend who has just been squashed by an earthquake.

When we look at human behavior of the decidedly non superhero style, we impose the same rules. Take the movies. If a woman had popped out eight kids the space of three years, was supercoiffed and perky after having twelve of the little suckers, and had a husband who could pay for a large mansion on a high school coach's salary, we would be a bit queasy. If the wife could do the housework in ten minutes flat, write a best seller in her spare time, was able to discipline the kids with the wag of a finger, and responded with merely a chuckle if they destroyed half the neighborhood, we would reach for the vomit bag. That was the plot more or less of the recent movie 'Cheaper by the Dozen', a movie abomination that was precisely so because it broke the rules of people physics. If it was labeled science fiction, perhaps I could have taken it a bit better. On second thought, no. The movie just plain sucked, and that suckitude trumps realism.

Now when we move to the 'real' world of the talk show, we once again confront people acting in ways that not only trounces realism, but sucks as entertainment as well. The result is the same. Take Dr. Phil and other self help gurus. Whether they talk about mental health cures, making a million bucks, or simply getting to heaven, all with five little helpful hints, we know it's an utter crock, well most of us anyways. The problem I think is that the wisdom of grown up people, well at least the one's who can read complex sentences, comes from complex sentences. And who has time for complex sentences? If a complex and level headed book on psychology, economics, or even philosophy could be reduced to the level of Superman comics, then we could be more perceptive of the real rules that govern our world, and not the make believe ones. I'm not holding my breath on this one, but perhaps there are some mild mannered sorts out there who attempt the job. And that would be truly super.

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