Just saw Requiem for a Dream last night without really knowing anything about it going into it, except that it’s highly regarded by many. It actually was quite different than I expected and presented some very troubling images and decent acting. However, the take-home message that this is the funerary service or soundtrack for the American Dream seems unrealistic and much too clichéd to be of any value as a warning or commentary on the state of American culture. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, “this is the way the Dream ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper” doesn’t really offer any new perspective, but merely catalogues the decline of an empire into complete self-obsession and debauchery.

I also think that the view just presented that America is destined to fall because we’re all too self-absorbed and desperate for fame, love, euphoria, etc. is at best an overstatement and at worst, completely off-base. Sure, the archetypes in the movie of fame-crazed, drug-addled mother and her drug-addict, but generally decent, son describe some swath of American personalities, but that is the exception. Further, attempting to tie all of the blame for everyone ending up alone and desperate for love into an infomercial, self-improvement, capitalist culture, where the viewer is supposed to think, “at least I’m not like that, but, omg, that is where we’re headed!”, seems completely absurd. Yes, some people are probably like this and they ought to be helped, if possible, but this isn’t the symptom of impending societal collapse that I think the filmmakers were trying to convey.

I could be totally nuts, of course. Maybe I “don’t get art”.