'Don't worry Darling'....but I kind of am for our future!
This weekend, I went for 'Don't worry Darling', a much awaited, much publicised celebrity multi-cast film featuring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde. While the reviews online were scathing, I decided to 'surprise' myself and not succumb to my usual pattern of discarding something as reprehensible based on the internet. Granted on most occasions, the trusty internet can steer you away from a bad bout of food poisoning or wasting 2 hours of your life in a movie theatre which you will never get back, however it has also reduced our ability to take chances that aren't calculated risks. In our generation, we have pre conceived notions that date back to the guy we're on a first date with, his ex's first post on instagram in 2007 so going into a movie without reading at least 10 different validating reviews beforehand was actually a gamble for me. I went in blind and with an open mind: while the film itself was terrible, I have to commend Olivia Wilde on her ability to use film direction to further the feminist agenda. It was quite subtle yet noticeable. It started with *spoiler alert*, the first time I've ever witnessed a woman unapologetically enjoying oral sex without the expectation of reciprocation on the man's end - which was refreshing and new to see on screen! Again, the movie was very Stepford Wives meets Black Mirror, but I did relish the scene in which Florence Pugh retorts 'it was my life, my choice, my right' (I'm paraphrasing but you get the picture) when Harry styles claims he built everything for them, and optimistically believes he saved her from their tragic reality. And it's true, it's nice to finally grow up and see a movie in which women no longer need to be saved. I'm still reeling from the years of Disney damage already done.
If you haven't watched it, the background is that Harry styles and Florence Pugh have a terrible real life, shes a nurse who overworks herself, he's lost his job, and they share zero intimacy and so they decide to (he decides on her behalf) to admit them into an alternate reality called the victory project where everyone has the stepford equivalent of perfect utopian lives, where they have nice cars, nice homes, women clean and men go to work, and there's lots of sex! Again, with context to feminism in the film, I secretly enjoyed the relentless and ironic use of 'perfect life' through the film where women are essentially cleaning, cooking and mostly kept in the dark. It lends itself to irony and it's not offensive simply because of how strong Florence Pugh's character is and how inexplicably unsatisfied she seems in this utopian version vis a vis her actual life as a nurse which was incredibly hard but that had purpose. It does however make you wonder will some things never change? like will men ever learn to communicate their feelings clearly and was the purpose of all of this really because Harry Styles felt emasculated and couldn't provide? It's 2022 for god's sake.
There are ofcourse other participants in the project, but the women actually don't know they've been admitted, while the men do and everyday for a few hours they leave to go back into the real world to pay Chris Pine, the founder of the project, who is also living in it - actual money so they can continue living their 'dream life' while in fact actually in a dream induced coma in bed at home. At the end of the movie we find out Olivia Wilde is the only woman who did know that they were in an alternate reality and chose to stay there so she can be with her children, who have actually died in the real world but in the victory project are still alive so she essentially can continue pretending like everything is normal.
This entire movie begs the question, is more efficient technology making us increasingly intolerant and desensitised as a society by creating alternate universes where we refuse to accept the consequences of our actions? Where instant gratification and having things our own way has eroded the social fabric of our communities such that if real human interaction denies us what we want in real life, we just create our own versions of reality - what does that even do to our coping mechanisms as human beings?
With the impending recession in the UK, and inflation at 9%, the growing disparity between the rich and poor furthered by the government's most recent economic policies, I can definitely see the appeal for people, especially from low income households (like Harry styles and Florence Pugh in this case) to consider living the 'perfect' life in an alternate reality instead of accepting what really is. In a sense, it is the American dream redefined where people are contriving dreams not goals! I also considered the implications of people being exceedingly desperate in their financial situations and eventually falling prey to social experiments like the 'squid game', is it completely mad to think that's possible? We know billionaires do crazy things by now. Jeffrey Epstein was selling children, Harvey Weinstein was molesting women, Donald Trump well, probably doing both and somehow still managing to run a country.
It's not hard to see, every single day technology and social media platforms validate our habits and beliefs to hack the algorithm so they can make more money of our continuous engagement. This, in addition to the other platforms we've developed and created for ease of communication and access (i.e for food delivery, clothes, essentials, whatever you name it) without engaging in real human contact, is undoubtedly making us more impatient, intolerant and perpetuating the desensitisation of human beings. Lets say for example, I am a bigot and my search history knows that so it continually propels adverts of pro-bigot articles and pro-bigot groups so I engage with my social media, eventually confirming my belief that even in 2022, it's ok for me to be a bigot because the adverts subconsciously validate my belief system by continuous repetition. As I now no longer need to leave my home to order food, amenities, or even to date someone because most platforms are now fully automated to register preferences and as little human contact as possible, I never actually have the chance to encounter or engage with anyone who might challenge my belief system. In the odd chance that I do encounter them, I would be hyper intolerant because I've never experienced healthy counter debate before so the situation might become rapidly explosive which it often does i.e cancel culture.
We're continuously and subconsciously isolating ourselves from people and things that challenge us on a daily basis, thus debilitating our wonted coping mechanisms.
Can we really agree to disagree anymore without being explosive?