Sometimes philosophers frustrate me. Especially when it comes to movies.
Philosophers are only supposed to watch philosophically approved movies made by philosophically approved filmmakers.
Go ahead. Ask a philosopher who his favorite film director is. No, wait. You don’t need to ask. I’ll tell you right now. It’s Woody Allen.
If you ask any philosopher, his favorite film director is Woody Allen. He’s required by law to tell you that Woody Allen is his favorite film director and his favorite movie is Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Swear on a stack of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling this is true.
Even if the philosopher hates Woody Allen’s movies he has to tell you he’s a Woody Allen fan.
It’s either Woody Allen or they take away his philosophy degree and he‘ll be dismissed from the ranks of professionally certified thinkers.
And that’s worse than being a logical positivist.
You see, if you’re a philosopher, you’re preference in cinema is supposed to be all highbrow. A philosopher is allowed only to watch movies that make you think. I’d like to watch That’s My Boy or Step Up Revolution. But I can’t. I am a philosopher.
Only the highbrow stuff.
But I’m saying this right now:
I’m not a fan of Woody Allen.
And I didn’t like Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.
I’ll admit: I like silly movies. I like stupid movies. I like the kind of movies philosophers would walk right out of the movie theater and declare them positively un-philosophic.
I’m not going to call any of these philosophers foolish, but they’re really missing out.
The truth is every movie is philosophical. A movie doesn’t need to be written by Jim Jarmusch or directed by the Coen brothers to be about something. If a character tells another character what he believes, we can talk about that character’s epistemological point of view. If at least one character in a movie is or claims to be God, or the main character is a woman who abandons her stale job and husband to screw other men find herself, then the movie we’re watching deals in metaphysics. And if, in any movie, any character does anything, we’re likely to find some kind of ethical dilemma or two.
So, if your movie tastes don’t lean towards Truffaut or you can’t bear to sit through Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Lord knows I can’t), don’t feel bad. Anything you’re watching is philosophical enough to get your mind thinking about philosophy stuff.
Trust me; once you start looking for philosophy in movies you won’t be able to stop.
You’ll find it, I swear.
And you’ll like it.
Unless you’re watching The Matrix. Then you’ll wish some filmmakers had never opened a philosophy book.