Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Horkheimer, and Theodor W. Adorno all created conflicts in society during their time due to their opinions and thoughts on the proceedings of society, and they can be called the rebels of their times to create revolt in their cultures as they did. In this paper, the role of these important figure’s in today’s society will be discussed, and what their ideas existent in movies such as Pleasantville, Fight Club, and V for Vendetta has to tell about the current society. Moreover, the importance of each rebel’s school of thought will be compared, with Horkheimer and Adorno’s instrumental reason in V for Vendetta being the most important and impactful while the ideas of Nietzsche in Fight Club being the least important compared to the other two, but still revealing significant facts about society.
The most important idea shown in the movies is in V for Vendetta which represents Horkheimer’s and Adorno’s ideas of instrumental reason. According to Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, oppression is manifested in the limits of human rationalist which has become, as it were, a one-track mind designed for the sole purpose of subduing and exploiting nature, humans included. Within the movie V for Vendetta, Norsefire and the Chancellor utilizes instrumental rationality to match means to ends. Norsefire made a corrupt plan of creating a deadly disease and releasing it, and then creating the cure for it to make profits off of it through medicine companies. Not only did Norsefire carry out horrendous experiments in concentration camps like Larkhill, they also were able to easily brainwash the people while making profits by implementing fear into them through their media as well as the disease. Moreover, Norsefire utilized the disease to create a fear of violence within the society as well where they created a mass delusion of particular people targeting the country to spread the disease when in truth it was the Norsefire party itself. People such as V were sent to Larkhill so experiments can be done on them to see how effective this virus, St. Mary’s virus, is.
Within Larkhill, prisoners were robbed of their privacy, individuality, and old selves. Norsefire creates a single thought process within the society where everyone agrees with the same perspective, and utilizes oppression, subliminal slogans, and media to do so. Norsefire uses instrumental reason, which can be seen in things as common as their slogans such as Strength is Unity, to oppress people into giving up their individuality and identity. Not only those who are homosexuals, of different cultures or traditions are imprisoned within Larkhill, but also anyone such as Evey’s parents who oppose the one-track mind the Norsefire party is attempting to enforce. By erasing diversity and separate identity while implementing fear, Norsefire succeeded in generating a general false identity where people try to suppress their individual needs and wants such as urges, feelings, desires, and so on.
Movies such as V for Vendetta have a high importance in our current times, especially when occurrences such as the Orlando shooting in the nightclub and the unjustified shooting of various black men without a reasonable cause. In our current society, even though we have come long ways from events such as the Holocaust, and the Civil War, there are still situations where people are getting treated unequally. As long as people get treated unequally to make a means meet ends, and as long as there are people being bystanders and not giving care to these inequalities, unfortunate events where people are put down for their uniqueness will keep on taking place. In V for Vendetta, people are sent to Larkhill for their differences, and in today’s society, certain people are not treated like any other citizen due to their differences. V for Vendetta shows the type of society one day we are likely to become if we continue to treat others differently due to their differences in background, sexuality, gender, or culture. Unfortunately, we’re not going in the right direction, as transgender and gay people have recently been excluded from giving service in military and women are still receiving unequal pay than men.
As Freud stated, humans aren’t truly happy anymore in society because they attempt to restrict themselves from the very things that make them content – libido and aggression; humans were meant for competition, and living with everything nice and well as people did in Pleasantville is unrealistic for this very reason. Although people in Pleasantville seemed happy, they weren’t truly happy, and they didn’t even have temporary happiness substituents such as books, art, or promiscuous sex to satisfy their unknown hunger for happiness. Thus, it was wonderful for those who were able to satisfy this new-found hunger. However, a controversy takes place in the movie when some of the characters begin to be disturbed by the changes within the town, beginning with the mayor and his group of “community protectors”. Along with libido, comes aggression, which can be seen when Bill’s artwork triggers some young men to approach Bud’s mother aggressively, her being naked on the artwork, forgetting about the person she is, and almost attacking the woman to satisfy their new-found thirst for libido as well as aggression. “Men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply defend themselves if they are attacked, but that a powerful measure of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment”. The young men who seemed so nice at first were only in the shadow of their real personality; their personality full of libido and aggression which was unleashed with the sight of a naked woman, a sight that was never known to them before.
Regardless, Pleasantville, and the Freudian ideas it represents has an important place in society, for many people are so fixated on living what they believe are moral lives filled with dignity. They follow their religion as if it’s a code of life, and don’t see that these aren’t statements to live by but merely general suggestion. People are cutting themselves off of the simple pleasures of life, and are abandoning the idea of being happy, just so they can have status and security, which they put in a higher place than a state of happiness.
Last, but not least, the least important of the all three in their ideas and the ideas’ relevance to the current society is the movie Fight Club and its representation of Nietzsche’s ideas. Nietzsche’s ideas of society desiring freedom, and setting their own rules, and these ideas are depicted well in the movie. Although the ideas are the least important among all three, they still hold a high amount of significance. Today’s society seems to be under an illusion of freedom, but with the invasion of privacy in every possible way, freedom seems to stay as only a distant word of imagination. Fight Club, a movie of a person being in an argument with their Dionysian self, shows how the way to freedom can be dangerous.
As can be seen, the movies V for Vendetta, Pleasantville, and the Fight Club, all speak about significant matters within society and each of them represent important leaders ideas who created revolts within their culture in their time due to the bluntness and openness of their thoughts and opinions on the society’s proceedings. Although V for Vendetta, and it’s reflection of today’s society is one of the most important ideas given among all these movies, Pleasantville and the Fight Club still state ideas that are as significant and relevant today.