From "I Heart Huckabees" to "What the Bleep Do We Know!?", Existentialism is a Hot Pop Culture Topic - PODCAST
Following 9/11, many people seemed to have a crisis about a) the importance of what they were doing with their lives, and b) the point of it all. In my case, it was months before I could bring myself to look at my chosen career in fashion and lifestyle journalism as anything other than a complete joke.
Hollywood has tapped into this feeling with movies like David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, (IHeartHuckabees.com)and it was word-of-mouth that created a cult hit out of Will Arntz's What the Bleep Do We Know!? which is now out on DVD (WhatTheBleep.com). In a recent issue of Fashiontribes.com, we looked at this trend of existentialism in entertainment in "I Heart Existentialism: As Hollywood Tackles the Subjects of Existence and Identity, Pop Culture Embraces Previously Esoteric Notions from the Worlds of Philosophy and Quantum Physics."
When you consider the fact that solids are not really solid, thoughts can change reality, group meditation has been proven to lower crime rates, and atoms are not things but tendencies, it's no surprise that the nature of reality is being put under a microscope. In I Heart Huckabees, existential detectives Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman help their clients find the hidden reasons for the recurring coincidences in their lives. "I became intrigued by the idea of a detective following someone around not for any criminal or personal intrigue, but rather as part of a very serious investigation about existence itself," says Russell.
To make Huckabees, Russell not only drew on several different strains of philosophy, but he also consulted leading physicists to further understand quantum reality. According to quantum physics -- the theme of What the Bleep!? -- not only are we not made of anything solid, but at the sub-atomic level, we may actually exist in several places simultaneously. Huh?! According to the creator of What the Bleep!?, Will Arntz: "To think that one little planet in the whole Milky Way or one group of people has the whole franchise to heaven starts sounding like the Middle Ages when the Earth was thought to be in the center of the universe."
It almost seems like the more that physicists find out about the nature of reality, the less we know. Small wonder that movies like What the Bleep!? have touched such a nerve: in addition to online Bleep discussion groups, a Bleep cottage industry appears to have sprung up, including a book of Bleep notes and Bleep Buddy icons.