I love going to the movies. I love eating popcorn out of a giant, greasy tub; I love sharing the experience with a bunch of strangers; and I love how I’m forced to carefully remove the plastic dome lid of my Icee so my straw doesn’t make that awful squeaking noise whenever I move it. The movies bring you action that is literally bigger than you. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, it’s figuratively bigger than you as well, and can really get you to thinkin’. Recently, I saw such a film–one that really got me to thinkin’.
And that film was This is the End, the newest stoner action comedy from Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg.
No, but seriously. For those of you who don’t know (and maybe don’t care) This is the End explores the behavior of a group of actors–each delightfully portraying their actual selves–as the world literally comes to an end. It’s simple: if you’re a good person, you get sucked up into the sky by a blue ray of light, and if you’re anyone else, you’re likely going to be eaten by some giant, creepy monster.
So, as any hopelessly self-involved 20-something would do, I left the theatre contemplating the worth of my entire existence: I would totally get sucked up in that blue light. Yeah, totally. I mean I’m a good person. I do good things. Like, uh, you know, last week. Yeah, last week, I…uh, you know, smiled at that old lady. Yeah, when she was looking at me like she wished she was still in her 20s. I re-connected that old lady with her youth. Yeah, that was nice. That was really nice. Shi*t. Is that the only example I can think of? That’s not a good example. That’s a horrible example. I can think of another one. Wait. Oh my god, I’m a horrible person. Shi*t. Oh my god. I would NOT get sucked up in that blue light. Seriously? Oh my god.
(For the record, that’s actually what it’s like inside my brain. Heavy sigh.)
I think we 20-somethings have a strange obsession with labeling people as good or bad. He cheated on you? He’s a bad person. She sings in the church choir? What a good person. He told you your blog post was, like, epically funny? He’s really an amazing soul. Homegirl thinks Beyonce is untalented?! That is an example of a HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING.
I don’t remember doing much of said labeling when I was a kid. But now? Yeesh, do I ever. As I stumble through my twenties, I seem to be outgrowing relationships like a toddler outgrows clothes–awkwardly and often. And I’m talking all sorts of relationships: with old friends, new friends, love buddies (sorry, but the word “lovers” creeps me out), family, employers, co-workers, health care providers, etc. And I’ve found when things don’t go my way (as has been the case in every one of those previously mentioned sub-categories), it’s quite easy to label my opponent as a bad person. If they’ve got a problem with me, then it’s absolutely, very much likely that said opponent is a bad person; because, just like that guy who thought my that girl’s blog was “epically funny,” I know that I am a good person.
And, I mean, because these bad people are bad people, that totally justifies the fact that I can judge their behavior and label them as such. And I can constantly talk about how bad they are with my all the other people in my life. And I can angrily flip through their Facebook photos (because it’s okay to stay Facebook friends with bad people) and practice, out loud, all of the mean things I would say to these bad, meanie-heads if I wasn’t oh so pre-occupied with being the bigger person. I mean, can you blame me?
The answer is: yes. Yes, we can blame you. If you’re running around acting like that, chances are you are not getting sucked up the blue light tunnel to heaven. The is the End offers some nice perspective on what makes us all good or bad; and they seem to be suggesting that we 20-somethings (and, well, pretty much everyone else) need to take a step back and foster some self-awareness. And I think I agree with them. For a generation that is completely obsessed with ourselves, we really could use some self-awareness. Then you might notice that the a** hole who just aggressively cut you off on the highway did so because you were joy riding in the passing lane, swerving along to Taylor Swift. Or, who knows, maybe you’d realize that it actually sort of was your fault that you were fired because no one forced you to publish all those very unprofessional, very graphic Facebook status updates about how much you hate your job and/or anything else in your life. (To the people doing that–please stop. Trust me. I’m saying this because I love you, and you’ll thank me one day.) And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that you used to think your ex-friend, -love buddy, -family member (you know, figuratively), -employer, -co-worker, and/or –healthcare provider was a good person. Chances are, they’re still a good person and, if it ended, there was something you could have done differently, too.
So take Seth and Evan’s advice: start taking responsibility for yourself, say sorry if you need to, learn from your mistakes, and just move on. If we’re inherently anything, it’s stupid, so it’d be wise to let others make mistakes as well.
Unless it’s that homegirl who hates Beyonce. I wasn’t kidding about that.