How pop culture mangles neitzsche

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“After all, if I’m so smart, how come I am still so damned confused?” – Socrates “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2 (First line)

Pop culture’s handle on Nietzsche has changed quite a bit over the years (who would have known that a “girly boy” would be such a problem?)

Pop culture’s handle on Nietzsche has changed quite a bit. Who would have known that a “girly boy” would be such a problem?

Here are some examples of popular cultural references to Nietzsche in recent years:

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The more materialism there is in pop culture, the more likely it will be to take Nietzsche too seriously.

The more materialism there is in pop culture, the more likely it will be to take Nietzsche too seriously.

Nietzsche believed that if you live according to your desires and not those you ought to have, you’re just a slave of your ego. He wrote: “If I were asked what the greatest luxury was, I would answer: ‘the consciousness of one’s superiority.’”

In this way, our brains get used to thinking about ourselves as being above others—and this kind of thinking can lead us astray when we think about society or other people’s values as being inferior or wrong-headed (or whatever).

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There are a handful of pop culture representations of Nietzsche as a villain. One is the sin-eater, who eats up all the bad things in the world and leaves nothing but good left behind. Another is Nietzsche as a Nazi or fascist figure (seen in The Eternal Jew). And yet another involves his association with A Clockwork Orange and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation thereof—in which Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) says to his wife, “Nietzsche was right: only those who have something to lose should attempt suicide.”

And then there’s this popular motif involving Nietzsche being an antihero: someone who does terrible things for excellent reasons…or at least that’s how it seems from their perspective!

Nietzsche as a romantic hero is another popular motif.

Nietzsche as a romantic hero is a popular motif in pop culture.

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Nietzsche as a romantic hero is a popular motif in movies.

Nietzsche, as an anti-patriarchal rebel, is yet another popular motif.

Nietzsche is a beloved figure in pop culture, and countless interpretations of his work have shaped his personality. One common theme is that Nietzsche was an anti-patriarchal rebel who stood up against traditional gender roles and society’s expectations for men and women. This interpretation dates back to at least the 1960s when Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex (1949), which argued that women had been mistreated compared to men since ancient times. While it’s true that some aspects of Nietzsche’s life might support this view—he was gay, he wrote about women sexually, he had affairs with both men and women—there are many reasons why this characterization goes too far:

You shouldn’t take Nietzsche too seriously.

Nietzsche was a German philosopher who lived from 1844 to 1900. He’s known for his work on the origins of morality, but he also wrote some pretty funny stuff about pop culture and how it mangles ideas about power.

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Nietzsche was a bit of an asshole. He was eccentric, super-proud of himself and his ideas (often hard to understand), and often got into fights with people who disagreed with him—as many philosophers do! But one thing that distinguishes Nietzsche from most other philosophers is that he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. And sometimes those thoughts included things like “you shouldn’t take me seriously.”

Thanks to Michael Spudis and everyone else who has contributed.

The post that’s been up on Reddit for the past two days: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/11fyrz/how_pop_culture_mangles_nietzsche/?ref=search_posts

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