(Julia Roberts chilling in Bali on the path to happiness)
How can you become a better person? In recent years, Hollywood has given us two options, both entirely apolitical. To qualify, you just have to be loaded.
You can go the way of The Blind Side and take in an abandoned inner-city youth with athletic potential. This movie is based on a true story, and as such, is pretty incredible. But when you watch the real family being interviewed by Mike Huckabee on Fox News, you know other intentions are at work: namely to promote a vision of what happens when you rely (not on government but) on the good Christian will of individuals. Everyone will live happily ever after. Just make sure your new family member is docile. But even if he’s not, you’re a member of the NRA, so everything should turn out ok anyway.
Or you could go the route of Eat, Pray, Love and indulge in travel to Italy, India and Bali. In Italy, you might have to buy size 2 jeans, which is a bummer since you used to be a size 1. You’ll lose the pounds in India though, but not your attachments. Guess that would take even more meditating. It takes so long! Never mind, in Bali, you’ll fall in love with Javier Bardem. He’ll make you feel better. And somewhere along the way, you can email your friends who will send over $17,000 for a local to buy a house.
I certainly don’t mean to downplay individual lives and amazing experiences. Sometimes one person at a time is the best you can do. But on the level of popular culture, these tales become parables and also mirrors of the reigning ideologies of our times.