The midlife crisis is a favorite device for Hollywood plots, representing, as it does, a violent disjuncture. 8½, Thelma & Louise, Husbands and Wives, Office Space, and Office Space’s self-serious remake, American Beauty, are a few examples of M.L.C. in cinema. In these films, Hollywood proposes the crisis as a heroic gesture: a revolutionary tantrum which offers hope and comfort to the unfulfilled millions who are secretly planning their own nihilist implosion. Running free from the cage one has constructed—burning down one’s own barn in a self-immolating Dionysian liberation—is the collective fever dream of outwardly Apollonian Americans longing for release from the strict mandates of work, fun, and family under capitalism.
Ian Svenonius is still the sassiest boy in America, and we’re all the better for it.