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Use of the word "Wholesome"

Use of the word "Wholesome"


I have recently grown a profound fascination and admiration for Will Arnett. The man is a great actor, but I'm more fascinated with his acting off-stage, off-script. In interviews, in live-TV situations, in promotional stuff, he handles himself expertly. I was shown by an acquaintance a cringe-video of Will Arnett as he hosted—and look this up because this was real—the "Minecraft Earth" Minecon panel-thing. But anyways, in this video, it shows Will Arnett trying somewhat cooly to salvage a somewhat awkward situation. Intrigued, I watched (on my own) a little more of Will Arnett's handling of hosting Minecon. He earnestly pours enthusiasm into it, it's remarkable. I honestly could not see any other person of his celebrity doing the same with such grace. So I dug in more, I watched interviews of Will Arnett—actor in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Lego Batman," "The Lego Movie,"—pouring this same sincere enthusiasm. But then after watching a clip of Will bending down to play legos with a little kid, I realized that he's doing all of this for the kids, and that his entire act as it were was in-fact a sacrifice of sorts. Sacrificing his "cool, professional, emotional-depth" -appearance for a rather naive, enthusiastic sucker.

Yet Will Arnett does have emotional depth. He is cool. He is professional. He is smart. While most know him from "Bojack Horseman" or "Arrested Development," Will Arnett has been developing his show "Flaked" since before 2014. In an interview with Will reveals just the amount of significance and heart he has put into this show:

He wrote, produced and co-created the show with pal Mark Chappell and plays the 40-something man at the center whose struggles with sobriety are drawn heavily from Arnett’s past. It is, without question, the most intimate, grounded piece of entertainment he’s ever been involved in, and the first day of shooting was set to coincide with the 15th anniversary of his own sobriety.

I have watched all of Will Arnett's TV show Flaked up until two episodes before the end of the first season. I had to take a break. Because, while Will Arnett acts incredibly, and the camera-work is pretty good, the supporting cast I've found to be lackluster at best. It's as if the show would've been better off if it had just followed Will, no supporting cast involved. There's no foil for Will's character, no real purpose to characters such as Dennis or Cooler. However, the show has some incredible moments, and its style is wonderful and has room for lots of potential. For instance take these two moments (IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED UP UNTIL TWO-EPISODES BEFORE THE END OF SEASON 1 YOU'VE BEEN WARNED)

  1. The exact moment when Will's character "Chip" is told that his love interest London is the sister of the man who he had drunkenly killed.
  2. The exact scene after ^, the first of a new episode, when Chip goes into an AA meeting, and the song "Thorns" by Alex G. plays

These two moments carry such a huge weight to them. The scenes become tangible, real. These moments truly embody what Will Arnett intended the show to be about: a genuine look into the life of a damaged and lost middle-aged man.

The problem many (probably) have with the show is a tonal problem. One minute, someone's cracking a clever play-on-words joke. The next moment, an argument takes place between two friends, revealing hidden frustrations and characterizations. The next moment, the two friends are fine, and they're eating breakfast together. I've noticed that, at least among the criticisms I've read, this tonal problem is referred to as an over-exaggeration or drama. I don't think that the drama is the problem. I think the problem is that the drama is too easily resolved, or unaddressed, and the comedy only further characterizes each individual as trying too-hard to sound clever. While watching, I was reminded of a DFW quote that said "if you want a character to sound smart and funny, have them say smart, funny things part of the time." Meaning: not all of the time.

I've noticed the same tonal-problem within my own life. One minute, I'm ingenuine, making mindless jokes with friends just for a laugh. The next minute, I'm driving home, contemplating whether or not my friendships are "real enough," if I should be changing more, if my quote "mindless jokes" carry any psychological significance to them. Why do I feel a stronger compulsion to be ingenuine when I'm tired? Why are friends more ingenuine in groups than one-on-on? Some days I'll have tons of homework and I'll feel trapped in homework: "if only I could have spare time to pursue my passions, to write a script or hang out with friends and have a genuine time." But after all the homework's done, I either force myself to go to sleep so I can be genuine the next day, or I stay up later trying to forget about the entire thing and be slightly more ingenuine the next day. And then after exams are done, I have so much time I don't know what to do with it, and most of my friends are gone or something, and I waste my time because it helps me block out the fact that I'm wasting my time. 

For the past four, five months, I've been using the word "wholesome" to refer to the quality of sincerity, or the quality of non-cynical, authentic contentedness that I seek relatively daily. The type of "wholesome" you feel after graduation and look back at your high-school knowing you're starting the next step in your life, or hanging out with friends after tech or dance or acting and just talking about being grateful about having joined theatre. The type of "wholesome" embodied within Jack Johnson's music when he's singing about wishing he could give more time to his friend, who's received news he's just got two weeks to live. A poignant, sappy feeling. The quote "sap of life," the stuff we all want but somehow never really reach in moments other than the rare, significant ones. And then after the moment, we wake up and it's a long, long time until your next wholesome moment. 

But I've been over-using the word "wholesome." Wholesome this, wholesome that. "That's wholesome." And I've been mostly completely serious the entire time. The shape of the wheel on my car IS wholesome, it's a detail of life we never really have the opportunity to look out for, the simplicity of shapes, there's beauty there. Or a wholesome pop-song on the radio, not necessarily wholesome, but the moment of listening to it with your friends and waltzing around a grocery store. It has become a joke among my friends: "that's wholesome." What I originally intended as a way of communicating an element of sincere appreciation for something has transformed into something ironic, partly, at least.

The day before we got off for winter break, my school had a fun field-day involving all of the elementary school kids, middle-school kids, and high-school kids. For the elementary-school kids, this day was the most awesome day ever, including a bunch of fun teamwork exercises with their heros. The thing was even superhero-themed. For the highschoolers, the thing was to be groaned about, whined about, a quote "waste of time," many didn't show up. I was among the few high-schoolers who sacrificed my "cool"—I learned my buddy's name, yelled the "cringey" (as one kid told me) team-shouts "Go Green Team!" "Green is best!" "Who will win? Green will win!" I helped stack dominos as fervently as I possibly could. I made an absolute fool out of myself sprinting to a bucket holding a golfball using a large metal spoon. I smiled and cheered despite the weird looks from high-school girls. Perhaps most "cringey" of all, I had fun.

I consider that to be "wholesome." The same event also occurred with the Winter Show. Everyone groaned about it. Lots of people half gave-up mid-way through. A bunch of people would retreat to their phones during rehearsal or tech-work or during breaks. Some people skipped choreography, skipped rehearsal. I remained adamantly positive, or at least tried to, without being "over-positive." After someone'd offer a cheeky smile and say "this is going to be such a bad performance," I would say "well the worst case scenario is that it's an unorganized, fun, unique production. Best case scenario is that we kill it." The entire thing boiled down to personal responsibility. Those who came to rehearsal anyways, who did extra-rehearsal, who put in the effort, those people really shined on stage. Those who spoke ill about the production, who skipped and didn't much care much, their words became realized. I found the production to be immensely fun, unique, a little unorganized, but exceeding all of my expectations. Parts of the show were incredible. The show carried a bunch of depth. Some of it seemed unnecessary.

In recent news I've begun writing again. I'm writing screenplays: some are horribly written, absurd, only intended as mindless jokes. But two, I'm really pouring my heart into those two. I'm keeping them secret, so that I'm not tempted to make them more joke-ish, My goal is to have filmed, edited, produced the entire thing(s?) by the end of my senior year. 

I guess it's ok for me to give away the title of the script.

"Narcissists Anonymous"

The name is sort of a double-entendre, and the plot is interesting and refreshing. That's all I have to say about that.

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