Like last month, here’s a rundown of a couple more theories that pop-culture movies draw their machismo from. From cutesy animated stories of a robot falling in love to action-packed adventures of an alien that protects our planet, all the best stories have an underlying theme that reveal themselves to be core philosophical thought experiments dating back to Plato. So while you may think that you’re just watching an entertaining movie, you might be pondering big, heavy ideas that have been vexing humanity’s deepest thinkers for millennia. For instance…
It’s easy to name superheroes. That’s because they’re everywhere when it comes to movies. They tend to come in great variety too; in all shapes, sizes and costumes and capes. But what they all have in common, no matter if they’re Stuart Little or the Iron Giant, is that they are all wielders of great power and can beat the unbeatable odds. But to quote a well-known trivia: “With great power comes great responsibility”. That one may be so well-known that no one would ever offer a prize for guessing it. But there’s often a lingering question about how it applies to us normal human beings, as well. And as it so happens, one of the great thinkers of the modern times has tried to answer that question for us. Nietzsche often pondered what role humanity plays in the grand scheme of things. Granted, this is practically a regular day for philosophers everywhere, but Nietzsche believed that we were fundamentally flawed from the start. Historically, we’ve made a whole series of bad decisions, and that he reasons is because a large chunk of us have not adhered to a social moral code. Morality is subjective.
In his book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche tinkers with the idea of a human who has surpassed his peers in an ultimate realization of the Will to Power. This ‘Ubermensch’ is the next step in human evolution, a truly independent individual who has the power to banish herd instincts from his mind and has become a master of self-discipline. On screen, our heroes don’t necessarily need to be the pinnacle of social and moral integrity. But every hero does tend to follow through on the fact that they pursue to do the right thing, often going against the vast majority of the people around them. Superman is probably the best example of just such a hero. His very name seems to echo the ‘Over-man’ of Nietzsche’s theories. In a world that may not accept him as their adopted son, he does what he knows in his heart is the right thing to do.