Tag Archives: Modernization

True sis’ first kiss

Spoiler alert. On two recent occasions, namely Frozen and Maleficent, the makers of Disney have diverted our notion of true love from ‘protective prince charming’ to ‘protective loving sister’. Are those attempts to break with an age-old tradition?

Let’s face it: ever since Disney’s feature-length movies arose, most of them ended with a wedding. Sure, there have been exceptions. Dumbo liberated himself from the public opinion and the Fox and the Hound painfully discovered how predisposed societal roles can divide friends, but generally, Disney’s protagonists have lived happily ever after.

You’re not an outcast anymore if you state that Disney has tricked generations into the ideal of getting married by highlighting only the exiting road towards the encounter with the other half. Perhaps the writers of these films have sensed this critique. Maybe they agreed with it. Of course, Pixar winked at this given with the Shrek sequels, where the trails and tribulations of marriage came up, but even that didn’t truly address the decreasing interest for being together in general.

In a society where individuality is more pronounced than ever and romances fail over and over again, it was about time that the film industry came up with better plots than the eternal story of romance. Emphasizing the powerful bond between women may well have been the wisest thing to do. If you look at the amount of sisterselfies that flows by on Facebook and Instagram, you would surely buy the idea that sisterhood is the new societal ideal.

The only way to face this, guys, is if we form a warm global collective of loving brothers. But let’s not fool ourselves: people are far more likely to look at our pictures when they have a girl on them, so the battle is already lost. Besides, we western men are far too independent to define our image by pictures of our fellows. We are slayers, and slayers work alone.

Which raises another point: have you ever seen a Disney tale where a man is promised redemption after ‘true love’s first kiss?’ Men are free by definition. They have to turn the force of evil to liberate the woman and earn her love. They could rescue any other woman if they wanted to, but they happen to have chosen the female protagonist. Therefore, ending a Disney film with a curse-lifting brother’s kiss would be less credible, and probably feel less liberating than these recent girly storlyline twists. By letting women save women, Disney answers to a growing independance. In this story, men are perhaps less usefull, but as free as ever.

I still don’t know a single Disney film where the princess rescues the prince. Wouldn’t that be laughable?

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Happiness engineers

If you work at Google nowadays you eat the healthiest food, work out and take naps whenever necessary. Your bosses will avoid conflict situations for you, encourage you to meditate and do whatever else is in their capacity to keep you as an individual happy. Why? When you are happy, your products are better.

In some advanced farms, cows are being trained to choose the timing of their milking by themselves. The machines they use for this system measure milking frequency and milk quality for every cow individually, and continuously adapt the cow’s diet to make her milk as nutritious as possible. The philosophy: every cow has innate needs satisfying those results in happiness and great milk. Such farms save human labour hours because no one has to force the poor animals into milking machines.

Have you ever heard of Plant Lab? This organization advocates that plants don’t enjoy growing in nature at all. The constant combat for light and nutrients and the irregularity of the weather make them stressed and weak. After long-lasting experiments, they have concluded that plants prefer stable, controlled conditions with purple light, the perfect amount of nutrients and a warm gentle breeze . In their arrangement, plants grow faster, are more nutritious and are more resistant to bugs. In fact, their defence systems become so effective, that if you take a seedling out of Plant Lab into the field, you don’t need to add pesticides for a whole month.

These are just three examples of how the performance of living beings is being optimized with support of knowledge and technology.  By paying more attention to the individual wants and needs, providing not more than the necessary, the boss spends less and gains more. The workers are happy. That’s a win-win, right?

Something in that construct itches me, but it’s not easy to place. Perhaps it is the fact that it emerges out of the industrial paradigm, out of the reductionist idea of beings as objects with on/off switches. By taking the experience of this being into account, by listening to it, one respects it in a different way. The reductionist paradigm meets the holistic paradigm, lifting society to an unprecedented state of enlightenment.

I haven’t convinced myself yet. Is it the idea of domineering? By giving someone precisely what he wants, one can control him entirely and use his energy at will. It increases the power of industry owners and mankind in general to a new level that can become scary if the power is in the wrong hands. Then again, if need satisfaction becomes the status quo, the owners are replaceable.

What itches me most, I think, is the fact that over my lifetime, I have learned to appreciate adventure and uncertainty. I have learned that longing for something for a while can deepen satisfaction in life. Perhaps I am afraid that if this trend continues and the emotional turbulence stabilizes, we will forget the beauty of suffering. Yet we luxuriant people have already long forgotten that.

I might just be old fashioned.