It all began when I was annoyed.
I try to adopt what I call the "Balancing Act" (you know, loving Christmas despite its propagation of mass consumerism and underlying religious overtones, for example) to keep me sane; it doesn't always work, and of course sometimes endless bouts of passion/caring/emotion/rationality are needed for certain things. Feeling as though I had squeezed my brain for all it was worth, and because my overworked brain usually gets cranky causing me to snap at unsuspecting loved ones, I decided to cheer myself up a little by watching, as is my Christmas tradition, one of my favorite Christmas movies since I was a kid: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Unfortunately, my cynicism couldn't spare it this time. It was okay till the violent bits came along, but my reaction was quite unprecedented from previous years; I flinched everytime the Sticky Bandits got hit too hard. Flinching takes quite a bit of the fun out of it. I might have flinched before, but I don't recall it being such a problem.
Out of habit, I tried to examine this unwanted (at that point) need to critique. The movie is an exercise in justice, it follows its own justice system. They had a gun! He was saving the money, really. Self-defence. Everyone recognises violence for self-defence. They're not very bright, are they, these criminals? Would I let kids watch this? Well, hey, I watched this as a kid and I never threw bricks at anyone. Media theory. Audience passivity. Even kids would be smart enough to realise guns are dangerous. Wouldn't they? What about cartoons? There's so much violence in Tom and Jerry. I love Tom and Jerry, I sniffed, begging my mind to leave it alone. Ah, said another voice in my head, doesn't the exaggeration suspend belief? Isn't that what humour is about? What IS humour about? Why are some things funny? Why are some things funny to some people and offensive to others? What about stereotype? And the use of words, images, semantics? No end to it. Questions with no answers, questions with many answers. The irresistable need to explain.
Everything can be critiqued if you try, I sighed. Every critique can be critiqued. You can't avoid all the holes. The Balancing Act to be happy (why must we be happy?). I suppose at the end of the day, it's really our choices that matter - what we choose to problematise, and what we choose to ignore. And why we choose it. To better our mind, because it's something we care about, for someone we care about, for our job, for the sake of argument, to win an argument, to find someone who agrees with us, who understands us, to not lose face, to not lose faith, to not be alone, to find some meaning in the huge chaotic mess we've been thrust into, to be seen in a certain way, to be liked, to be encouraged. It's all selfish in the end.