Rant of the Year (2014): Emma Stone in “Birdman”

You know what's painful? Meaninglessness is painful. It really is. Life is absurd, to have so much for such a long time, then nothing, and it's painful to know that none of us can escape that fate. 

Plus, here in the crowded 21st century, we cannot help but notice that the more there are of us, the less any one of us means.

Or matters.

What does that mean psychologically?

(Or do I imagine this perception — perhaps it's just me?)

Well, on this subject I think the younger generation, with its gently cynical take on the "precious snowflake" theory of importance through uniqueness, has a point.

"Nobody cares," said Jonah, perhaps the single most striking character on Veep, trying to explain this to his mother at an inopportune moment, when she just screwed up a chance for him to get his job back.

A "useless waste of bleeping carbon," was another example from that show, of someone speaking about Jonah, the White House staffer, a monster of selfishness.

And in Birdman, in a movie full ofastonishing rants, great swaths of words fired by characters blasting away as if on machine guns at each other, perhaps the single best outburst comes from an unforgettable (and Oscar-nominated) character played by Emma Stone.

As Sam, trying to put her life together after a stint in rehab, she loses patience with her father, who is putting on a play to prove that he's more than a movie star. She really lets him have it, after he dared judge her for smoking a joint, and she lets him know he's not all that. 

It's called Relevant.

 We are all big confused carbon-based life forms who want to be so much more. 

Update: An obituary for the big novel writer Robert Stone in the LA Times includes a nice quote along these lines. We think meaningless is a concept only for French philosophers; actually, no, it's a concern for nearly all of us — even if we can't articulate it as clearly as Stone. 

"Writing is how I justify my existence," he told the AP in 1992.

"This is a basic hunger for most people; they want their suffering to mean something. You go through all these things and the idea it's utterly of no consequence is very difficult to work with."

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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