Self-Sacrifce, Suffering, Jordan Peterson, and Olivia Wilde -- A Review
A housewife (Florence Pugh) living in a seemingly idyllic post-WWII desert community begins to question its charismatic founder (Chris Pine).
As is typically the case, the anti-"Woke" crowd overreacted to this movie. It's 90% paranoid thriller and 10% politics. The political angle is what distinguishes it from other movies with identical plot mechanics. In other words, the politics is where there's potential to make it interesting, but these ideas are never well-developed. The movie is substantive inasmuch as it attempts to say something meaningful about "pseudo-intellectual" Jordan Peterson, who Wilde has said is a "leader of incels." If I had not known Pine was supposed to be a stand-in for Peterson, I would have found it less interesting.
Peterson's philosophy, from what I've learned outside of this film, involves sacrificing for causes greater than oneself, which infuses life with meaning. Why do young Muslim men leave the relative material comfort of Western Europe to join ISIS? Other than psychopathy, why do young American men join the Marines rather than the Army? The few. The proud. People are desperate for meaning. There's something to this.
Paul Bloom recently wrote a book about benign masochism, where he talks about how people derive meaning from suffering: eat spicy food, watch scary movies, ride rollercoasters. He says he gets angry letters from people who are in chronic pain: "I must be sooooo happy." What matters, of course, is that the suffering was chosen, which is something Agent Smith misses in his villain monologue. And that's sort of the problem here...
Harry Styles' character talks about how he has to venture out into the real world to grind out a living for the two of them while she gets to live it up in the Matrix, but she never made that choice.
Also, I don't understand Wilde's incel comment when the guys in this movie are not incels. Why ISN'T this world filled with incels who have ridiculously attractive wives and girlfriends? Instead Jack comes home to a facsimile of his actual girlfriend and performs oral sex on her. This must be a niche Second Life. In the more popular versions, it's non-stop harems and debauchery.