Come See My Sequel

This holiday season, you have a difficult decision when it comes to what film to go see with your family. So many viable options, and yet most will lack satisfying emotional/intellectual resonance; will be, in fact, brain poison, creatively bankrupt garbage, poopy, etc. You and your family will exit the theater in a miserable haze, unable to discern why that particular sequence of images needed to be screened to an audience. And even later, as you open presents and sip your eggnog, you’ll be unable to shake that lingering shroud of mediocrity. For years afterward, you’ll associate family time with substandard media, and slowly, inevitably, you’ll drift apart, further and further, until there is no family; just a collection of individuals with shared DNA. Little more than strangers. For that is what comes of poor movie decisions: loneliness, entropy, anhedonia.

That’s why I made a sequel to my previous movie. You remember it, I’m sure. I used the same raw materials—characters, subject matter, general plot—and mixed them around just enough so as to lend the appearance of freshness. This way, you know exactly what to expect in the same way you know what to expect from IKEA furniture. Is it good? Well, not exactly, no, not at all. But like IKEA furniture, it’s mostly tolerable; pretty solid unless you lean on it too hard. Why take a risk on an original film like 12 Years a Slave or Prisoners, a mystery box full of who knows what, when you can immerse yourself in sweet, soothing familiarity.

After all, the human brain is a pattern recognition machine, and far more than novelty, it craves the familiar. It’s why you’ll always choose an iPhone over the HRK Turbophone and Subway over Earl’s Sandwich Castle. With the success of my previous film, I’ve already acquired valuable real estate in your hippocampus, where long term memory is stored. You’re preprogrammed to respond positively to my film’s imagery. Accept it. Enjoy it. Don’t waste time investing in new, previously unknown characters when you can see characters you already recognize do things similar to what they did in prior appearances (e.g., shoot guns, kiss each other, kill orcs, etc.).

Imagine the alternative: seeing a film with an unusual or counterintuitive perspective, one with actors who have unrecognizable faces instead of the famous ones to which we’re accustomed. “What’s that guy’s name again?” your aunt will whisper to you. “Is he the main guy or the other guy? Is he the girl’s friend or that other girl’s friend’s brother?” And then an unexpected 20 minute oral sex scene scored by the sound of your grandfather nervously unwrapping and rewrapping a peppermint. No, you don’t want this scenario. The purpose of all art is to affirm preexisting worldviews via robots who are sometimes cars.

Even as we speak, we in the entertainment industry are distilling story into ever more relatable forms. Our niche media landscape divides viewers into ever narrower, ever more niche demographics, polarizing humanity for marketing purposes. Ideally, we want 7 billion giant mirrors, at least one of which reflects exactly you and only you back to yourself: Fox News for elderly conservatives, HBO for educated middle class liberal males, etc.

Support for my sequel will encourage us to produce ever more familiar, individualized art. We will open a Museum of Selfies, the most relatable museum imaginable, and you can walk down the halls, reminiscing about the times and places you took those selfies. And instead of music, we’ll release a 5,000 hour recording album of all your phone calls, so you can listen to yourself and think, ‘That’s me. That’s my voice. I know this.’ This is a noble pursuit. When people encounter something unfamiliar, their first reaction is revulsion; hence, racism, homophobia, religious/nonreligious persecution. Clearly, the solution is to avoid all novelty.

Soon, movies and TV will become elaborate adaptations of those BuzzFeed articles, “How You Know You’re a Nerd/Improviser/Cat Lady/Unemployed Person/Whatever”. Characters will do all the things you would do, say all the things you would say, and the themes will all be opinions you already share. After this sequel, my next film will just be footage of audience members buying tickets and waiting for the movie to start. “That’s so us,” a couple on a date will say, watching themselves check movie times. “That’s definitely something I do,” says a man watching himself check Twitter before the movie.

Remember the Christmas someone chose No Country for Old Men as the family movie? What a screw up, right? Your uncle left the theater, saying, “Worst movie I’ve seen all year!” and your dad said, “What was any of that even about?” Let’s face it: unpredictable plots with nihilistic themes do not make good holiday movies. I promise my sequel will serve your family with a formulaic plot, always the most fun kind, along with a sequence of images and narrative tropes already scorched into their hypothalamuses, if not by the original film, then by the ubiquitous advertising campaign.

And one day, our species will finally choose to homogenize itself, and we will become a gorgeous race of identical automatons, telepathically communicating the same thoughts, same feelings, in a global psychic network—total consensus forever and ever. There will be only one movie, and it will be called “The Shared Human Experience” and it will play in the minds of all people at once. It will have an infinite running time and every frame will be the same as the previous one. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – DeeAshley

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