fredclaymeyer

Selfishness

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm

The present has been called the “age of narcissism.” I think of this sobriquet whenever I watch the two-minute Nike commercial in which basketball star LeBron James meditates on the damage he did with his departure from Cleveland. The ad’s writers seem to equate a high capacity for self-reflection with likability, an equation that a number of other celebrities (such as Kanye West and John Mayer) have also used to great effect.

Woody Allen is arguably the king of reflexivity, having made his meditations on his own neuroses into a number of classic movies. Allen has also behaved uncomfortably in real life: in 1992, he began a romantic relationship with his wife’s adopted daughter, whom he had been helping to raise. Interestingly, he justified his actions quite simply: “The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that’s that.”

Implicit in Allen’s quote is that “the heart” should get what it wants, no matter the damage to others. That’s selfishness: you just take what you want. It’s quite simple, dull, almost animal. It takes a really good artist (or ad agency) to make it seem otherwise.

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