Smile or Die

I am so impressed with the ideas of Barbara Ehrenreich! In my post “Bright-Sided” (March 18) I included some links to her book, and to her statements, based on her own experiences, about the condescending and infantilizing attitudes towards cancer victims. Then on March 22, in the blog about the Right Brain, I linked to an animated lecture that explained the underlying concepts of cognitive research. I hope you enjoyed the brilliant cartooning. “One picture is worth a thousand words?” Maybe!?

Well, here is another animation from the same source, explaining Ehrenreich’s position on”bright sided” thinking on economics and society!

In addition, I started wondering about how delusional optimism got such a hold on our thinking. It was easy enough to find it all through the Disney kingdom and television programming for children.

What about the influences on adults? I’ll talk about The Power of Positive Thinking and the self-help movement another time. But stay a few minutes longer if you can. Here are some song hits, a very few of those I could have listed… enjoy them, remember when you last heard them, and think about how influential they may have been…

 Put on a Happy Face  from Bye Bye Birdie, 1963

Sunny side up  sung by Judy Garland, 1963

Smile though your heart is breaking, used by Charlie Chaplin in 1936, but better known now as sung by Nat King Cole,  Judy Garland, or Michael Jackson

Barbara Ehrenreich is in good company when she complains about the toxic effects of pretending to find too much sunshine in a very dark world.

In a scene so horrific that it stays indelibly in your mind, Stanley Kubrick concludes  Dr Strangelove  with chilling irony. As Vera Lee sings the poignant WWII ballad,We’ll Meet Again, the camera pans over obscenely beautiful images of mushroom clouds!

And then in 1987, Kubrick played this card again. The film, Full Metal Jacket  concludes with American troops marching past a burning Vietnamese city, singing the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Club!

Smile or die!?  What do you think?

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One Response to Smile or Die

  1. CarolWiebe says:

    I read “For Her Own Good: 200 Years of the Experts’ Advice to Women,” years ago and was horrified, but educated as to why things were as they were in the medical profession as far as women are concerned. Much later, I heard that Ehrenreich had gone “undercover” as a manual labourer for Nickel and Dimed.

    Thanks for this reminder of an incredible writer.

    As for the “toxic effects of finding too much sunshine in a very dark world,” we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Exuding sappy happiness because it’s the thing to do (and because it is supposed to convince the universe to send you a Rolls Royce) or pretending there is nothing wrong in this world, may not be realistic or admirable. However, I don’t think embracing cynicism and insisting we should always focus on the dark side of life is necessarily any better. I have, I realize, set the two up like a dichotomy, and life is much more complicated than that.

    Full spectrum living, embracing what comes and being grateful for being alive would be where I put myself. And I’m not going to say I must always force a smile or die trying, but when it is my time to die (and if I am in a position to recognize it), I hope I can smile for what I was given.

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