Victims of Advertising and Institutions – what the Shawshank Redemption and the Fight Club say

 

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Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

(SPOILERS! Anyways, this post will only make sense if you have watched both the movies)

 

What makes these movies so brilliant? (don’t ask me why I haven’t watched them earlier. And yes, it is assumed that everyone thinks they are brilliant; that’s not up for debate.)

Maybe it is the fact that we sit down with popcorn and friends (or alone with cookies, like me… whatever floats your boat) and suddenly we see ourselves on screen—ourselves in that prisoner of twenty years and in that maniac.

 

We are all a little messed up. We all have a Tyler Durden within us. (or is it just me?)

It takes some of us a lifetime and then the deathbed in the hospital to figure out what we want out of life. At least Andy does it in 20 years of confinement.

At the end of it, the prisoner, the insomniac, you, and I all have a simple choice: get busy living or get busy dying.

 

The irony is that although Tyler Durden is MESSED up (I am definitely not promoting him), he is what gets the Jack* to figure out what he wanted to change in his life. He went through an immense pile of foul crap, but in the end he put the dangerous voice in his head to death, and I still doubt he returned to his IKEA condo. Ignore the collateral damage, the dynamite, and the chaos, and the end is a win-win situation.

And that’s what Andy did. In the midst of a different hell, perhaps another form of the condo, he decided to get busy living rather than dying. He prevented himself from getting institutionalized. He hopes for an escape and dreams of a life near the Pacific. And what else does Jack’s job and perfect apartment symbolize? And the guy in the convenience store? Both institutionalized.

To think about it, even Project Mayhem institutionalized those fighters. After all, what does being institutionalized mean?

It’s when you stop using that big oval-shaped goo above your eyes and just decide to let some external collective thought tell you what to do; when your cells start following the instructions of some other leader, and your body starts obeying a master other than you.

Exactly what you want, right?

But what do we do? Don’t we watch Andy build that library in prison from scratch, and think “woah, amazing that he was able to do that in prison” or admire him as he procures beers for his friends and then wonder why we can never be as clever? And what do we feel, during our institutionalized movie nights, eyes glued upon the bright screens, when we slowly begin to comprehend the brilliance of his escape plan and begin to swallow the amount of persistence it would have taken him to act upon it? Just transient admiration; nothing strong enough to make us get out of our own institutions. But if Andy was institutionalized, he would have just sat in his prison cell, stared at the posters on his prison wall, and lamented his prison life.

So get busy living.

And escape that institution.

 

*unnamed protagonist

 

** PS: The image is copyrighted, created, thought of, and everything else by me. Please do not steal. I know you won’t because you are all nice people.

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