east of eden - fistful of quarters

ok this movie is hilarious, and awesome. it is extremely well done. it's the type of movie that is really cool and not a lot of people know about it--but soon it will be the next spellbound and it will be popular and those of you out there who think things lose credibility once they have become mainstream will no longer take so much delight in it, like napoleon dynamite or juno or death cab.

still, it has quite the story and characters, complete with its nerds, protagonists, and villains. particularly there is one villain. his name is billy mitchell. he's sleazy, arrogant, has the trophy wife, self-absorbed, has a terrible style, and is somewhat of a coward. at the end of the movie we were all expressing our extreme hatred for the guy, calling him names and talking about sending him hate mail. of course, we were just joking around, but i'm sure the type of people who actually do those things will be all over it because the movie did a stellar job of portraying this guy as the biggest douchbag you've ever seen. my favorite line of the movie is from billy: "on my phone it says 'never surrender.'

so i walked away from that movie to my car chuckling to myself at some of the insults we had come up with, however nonetoopleasant they were.

today i finished reading East of Eden. it took me quite awhile but i got there. i really enjoyed it, and while i'm not going to give you a book report, there are some pertinent themes here. as you might guess by the title, the book deals a lot with the question of good and evil. the primary relationship explored is the brother-brother/cain-abel. but throughout the whole book the question keeps coming up of if a person can be good, and if some are destined to evil--if some lack that something that brings goodness.

in the book it seems those who are completely good and those who are completely bad end up alone and isolated. it is those who struggle with their combined nature who find some degree of happiness in life, even if they bring the others around them down with their complexity. humanity is defined by "thou mayest" the choice to do either good or evil. and those idealists who believe in only one it seems are those who cannot truly live their life. it's a powerful theme.

in this story there is one of the evilest characters i've ever read. she has some serious issues. but fortunately the complexity of her keeps you from pure hatred--though horror is an accurate description. these are the sorts of people we find in fiction. they make their point. but perhaps one of steinbeck's points is that these people don't really exist, they don't really live.

so i'm driving home thinking about billy mitchell. he is painted with the brush and we loathe. he is the guy we root for to fail. but billy mitchell is no fictional character. and the beauty of the documentry is that it is just that--a documentary. you cannot look at him and see his acting. you look at him and you see his front. it's so off-putting you are most likely to not allow yourself to look long enough. because it's in his eyes. it's in his trophy wife with plastic breasts and the way he clings to her as he walks around the arcade.

below all the bravado is a human. a man who has sold his identity to a bunch of computer chips, a few buttons, and a joystick. he is dominated by fear. because if he loses this he loses all he is. and if you see this, you see this human just like me and you, then the hatred fades. and if you're not careful you might make the next mistake and pity him, providing another judgment. no, we are all so insecure when it comes down to it. and we have our own little posses that give us the security we need in one way or another.

maybe what we hate so much in billy is what we see in ourselves and wish wasn't there. so we project. or maybe we're much too clever at deceiving ourselves and miss our own constructions. in any event, the wisdom of a little girl still rings true--though she is talking about getting into the guinness book of world records it applies to all we achieve and strive for: "a lot of people ruin their lives trying to do that."

it may be easy to see the pointlessness in spending so much of your life striving to accumulate points on a 30 year old video game. it may be a lot harder to see the pointlessness in a lot of the things we strive for, trying to prove ourselves in whatever way.


  1. haha. i posted about it too.
    gosh that was great.

    "we have a potential kill screen if you're interested."

  2. suddenly.
    this movie is a phenomenon.

  3. dude, i love that post.

    and yeah, i now want to jump on the bandwagon and watch the movie: 'well, Billy Mitchell always has a plan.'

    the hair is hot though...