Life Lessons from the Silver Screen

There was a book reprinted published in 2012 titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek by Dave Marinaccio. The title is suggestive of the topic of this blog. What movies or TV series serve as a repository for all (or most) of life’s lessons. I do think that science fiction does have a large role in shaping the morals of the future. For example, the moral dilemmas that an advanced robot would be programmed to consider was considered long ago by Isaac Asimov.

Still, maybe there’s a movie that is more present-day than the sci fi television series Star Trek. And at the risk of sounding silly, I would like to suggest The Jerk with Steve Martin might make for a good starting point. And I suppose I should say at this point that I believe life should be approached with a sense of humor. I can take as seriously as the next person — this is the only one we have, as far as we know — but I believe humor provides a perspective that is necessary for a well-rounded viewpoint.

Here’s a favorite quotes from the move:

rabbbits“Ah, it’s a profit deal!” After Steve Martin takes a job as a weight-guesser at a small traveling carnival, he realizes that he can have everyone win a prize and it doesn’t matter because the prizes are all inexpensive Chinese garbage and the carnival makes a profit even if everyone wins a prize.

Another quote that I … well, quote often is James T. Kirk saying, “I need my pain!” It’s from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It’s curious that I’ve read multiple scientific articles in recent years that provided evidence that a life which has some challenges can produce a life that is better able to cope with life’s hardships because these challenges help to develop coping skills.

Of course, many people might suggest the standard quotes, such as “There’s no place like home” from Wizard of Oz. Very true! But I still think “Ah, it’s a profit deal” beats it. Because, well, it’s somewhat a re-wording of the primary rule in a detective’s guidebook: follow the money. Much of what is happening in the world can be attributed to profit deals. Steve Martin was right.

It would be interesting to see, given a subset of people who refer to movies when asked about justification for basic moral questions, how many quote something from the science fiction genre? And if it’s a majority, what would that imply?




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