Sunday, 15 May 2011

Too Sad to Play Dodgeball

I totally would make a youtube video just for the sake of making this point, but I don't happen to have any video-editing software on me, so what you're going to get instead is a transcript of selected scenes from this probably my favourite Simpsons episode. I'm probably pretty much alone in being reduced to a gibbering mess by this rather than seeing it for the simplistic sentimentalist platitudity that it no doubt is, but hey, it's my fucking blog.

Season 1 Episode 6 - Moaning Lisa:

  Lisa:  [standing still in a gym, being knocked on the head with dodgeballs] Ow, Ooh, ow!  Ooh!
  PE Teacher: [blows whistle]  Lisa!  We are playing dodge-ball here. The object of the game is to avoid the ball, by weaving or ducking out of its path.
  Lisa:  In other words, to dodge the ball.
  PE Teacher: Listen missy, just tell me why you weren't getting out of the way of those balls.
  Lisa:  I'm too sad.
  PE Teacher: Too sad to play dodgeball?  That's ridiculous. [to the rest of the class]  Now let's see some enthusiasm.  Play Ball!

  Marge's Mother: [in a flashback, to young Marge] Wait Margey, before we go out that door, let's put our happy face on, because people know how good a mommy you have by the size of your smile.
Young Marge: [turns to her mother, wide toothy smile plastered across her face. Walks with it out of the house]

  Marge:  [driving Lisa to band practice, turns to her in the front seat] Now Lisa, listen to me, this is important.  I want you to smile today.
  Lisa:   But I don't feel like smiling.
  Marge:  Well it doesn't matter how you feel inside, you know?  It's what shows up on the surface that counts.  That's what my mother taught me.  Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down, past your knees until you're almost walking on them. And then you'll fit in, and you'll be invited to parties, and boys will like you, and happiness will follow.
  Lisa:   [feeble attempt at a smile]
  Marge:  No, come on.  You can do better than that.
  Lisa:   [a much brighter smile]
  Marge:  Aww, that's my girl.  [rubs Lisa's hair]
  Lisa:   [through her teeth]  I feel more popular already. [Walks into the school grounds]  
  Boy 1:  Hey, nice smile.
  Lisa:  Thanks.
  Boy 2:  Hey, what are you talking to her for?  She's just going to say something weird.
  Lisa:  Not me!
  Boy 1:  You know, I used to think you were some sort of a brainiac, but, I guess you're okay.
  Lisa:  Uh-huh.
  Boy2:  Hey, why don't you come over to my house after practice.  You can do my homework.
  Lisa:  Okay.
  Music teacher: 5 minutes people! 5 minutes. Now, Miss Simpson, I hope we won't have a repeat of yesterday's outburst of unbridled creativity.
  Lisa: No sir!


I have never understood this. What's the big deal about being sad? It's not that bad, and it doesn't have to constitute so dramatic a statement. It's an integral part of the experience of all of us. Sometimes things make us sad. Often, in fact, and it doesn't prevent us from doing anything, beside participate in the collective pretence of being happy. Of being jovial, I should say.

Why does anybody want to play this game? What do they get out of it? Why is it ridiculous to not want to? I have heard people tell me a million times that it's best to try and put on a happy face, because nobody likes hanging around pouty people, but have never felt an aversion to anybody because they weren't happy enough. And what is this "fitting in" I keep hearing about anyway? Is it pleasant? What is everybody smoking? Why is there an expectation that you waste so much of your time and energy, on such fucking bullshit?

All being "sad" means, is that you're dissatisfied with the way things are at the moment, and you would like to make some sort of change. Are changes that bad? Is it that important for everything to always stay exactly the same? Who are the people who decide these things and on what grounds do they decide them? Somebody somewhere has declared war on personality, and they're fucking winning.

So what's the next step after not playing? I still find myself mainly identifying with the Bonnie and Clyde method, but I'm probably missing something far more sensible. What would Neil Young do?