Hollywood, Please Stop With The Very Lazy Nietzsche Obsession

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Hollywood, Please Stop With The Very Lazy Nietzsche Obsession

Universal Pictures

So apparently, nineteenth-century German philosopher and only cool incel ever Friedrich Nietzsche was absolutely fascinated by the wonder of modern technology that was his by-then-novel typewriter. I know, adorable. Now imagine how he’d react if 140 years later he saw himself quoted on a giant screen by an actual overhuman beast:

His brain would melt – wait, that was distasteful, sorry. Friedrich.

Yeah, for reasons we won’t even begin studying, Nietzsche is the main philosopher mainstream pop culture thinks of when it has to make characters sad, misanthropic loners, smart people with highbrow interests, or, well, insanely charismatic bodybuilders – whatever, here’s ageless, untimely Paul Rudd reading Nietzsche by his Beverly Hills pool in Clueless, and here’s True Detective referencing him over and over. 

Even crazed murder robots get in on the action.

See what we mean? Not even mentioning the overt or implicit influence Nietzsche might have had in some of the smarter and more subversive Hollywood movies, his name just keeps popping up. Yet it is also true that most of these references tend to misinterpret him, following his damaging, slandering appropriation by anti-semites and Nazis. For example, check out that scene from The Day After Tomorrow that makes philosophy majors (and people that like good movies) everywhere cringe:

Another example of lazily-interpreted, might-makes-right, proto-Nazi Nietzsche comes from the movies inspired by the real-life murder case of the Nietzsche-reading pair Leopold and Loeb. The most famous one is, of course, Hitchcock’s Rope, which, you guessed it, also namedrops the main dude, but there’s also Murder by Numbers, a Sandra Bullock-Ryan Gosling thriller you probably forgot until now, and that, yup, well, also references him. Misinterpreting Nietzsche is sadly a general pattern in mainstream movies, but hey, if they can’t even understand what turns their own classic, cyborgs-from-the-future, wars-in-the-stars blockbusters into diminishing-return franchises, it’s not like we could demand much better. 

So what’s next, Hollywood? How about an eternal recurrence action movie that doesn’t absolutely suck? Or will the MCU end up returning back to the first Iron Man in a few years and claim an entire endless looped time reboot? Because yeah, just as it happens with True Detective-referenced circular time, time loop movies are the other Nietzschean theme par excellence, and even his great fictional work has been argued by non-grifty, actual Nietzsche specialists to be set in a Groundhog Day. So Netflix, since you’re obviously obsessed with eternally returning to this idea, why not just get it over with and call me so we can do it properly?

I mean, even the theme song is already written.

Top Image: Universal Pictures

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