Just How Much Is Too Much?
How much is too far?
The popular media of today would have you believing nothing is too far, that as long as you are doing something you’re passionate about, as long as you think it’s the right thing to do, then you’re right. They hail people like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Phil Jackson as idols for their undying passion, and while their passions for the game can be greatly respected, their history of being complete and utter dicks with no respect to their teammates is something that generally can’t be forgotten, especially with the loads of emotional damages done to them.
And then, in a crude turn of events, they completely flip it around and take a massive dump over a person who had the audacity to voice their opinion online.
I’m not here to say that what Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan did was wrong. I’m simply here to state the facts, yes, they were very successful and passionate people, but also they were flawed, way in over their heads about the amount of power they held over other people.
We can’t relate to these people. There’s a reason why we often say that they aren’t human anymore, because they’re so concentrated on their goal that they become cruel and aggressive, people who simply did not share our moral code or the insecurities that we as humans faced.
Maybe we can emphasize with them to a certain degree, and we can theorize and ask questions, but there’s always that boundary made stronger by their celebrity status that separates the things we see regarding their personality and what they actually feel.
So how do we go about this? We have an entire world separated by screens, insecurities, and the humanistic problem of us being so dramatically different from each other. How do we reach an understanding with each other? What do we have to do to set the world along a path of exponential evolution, a world where we can all be nice to each other and not set the internet aflame every single time someone gives a differing opinion?
It raises an interesting question: Just how far is too far? How far does humanity have to go in order to reach an understanding with each other, or are we just destined to never be able to truly understand each other?
I think it’s this question that contribute to the appeal of shows like Death Note, Attack On Titan and Code Geass. While they’re shows that feature main characters who are egotistical and confident in their own beliefs, people who are quite literally the physical manifestation of the phrase “By any means necessary”, they also go above and beyond to portray them during their most human moments, the heartbreaking moments where they realize the consequences of their actions, experiences that you only ever hear about with celebrities.
Going through the same experience as the main character means that it forces you to emphasize with them. No longer is the antagonist the one that raises several huge moral questions, that challenges the ideology and morality of the main protagonist, instead, the person that challenges these ideas and pushes the boundaries of right and wrong is our main characters, and the viewer experiencing it.
That’s why I think so many of these mainstream Animes like Attack On Titan and Code Geass are so respectable. They look at their huge fan bases of Weeaboos who are sensitive to the smallest dash that can be traced back to Nazi Germany, take it, and completely subverting their fan’s expectations to tell a story where we can relate and understand the main protagonist despite the terrible crimes that they have committed.
It’s also here that the people watching these shows will completely change their beliefs and ideologies of morality. It’s not about right or wrong anymore, no, it’s these shows that argue how much is too much and challenges your opinions of what’s right. Some people might understand it, while some people might not, and the issue lies in that some people might understand it a little too much to the point of political cynicism and resorting to violent measures in order to achieve their goals.
They’re a little too good at their job. Most of the time we’ll look at characters like Lelouch and Eren and instead of condemning the killing spree they go on, we praise them for being the one so desperate to change, who are willing to sacrifice everything for their plan to succeed.
But is this really the way to go about things?
The thing about passion and our desire to be able to make the decisions to do anything are that it is driving and it does have great points, but at the same time, is not a healthy process to base your entire philosophy upon. A world built on violence and manipulation in the name of peace is going to fall apart in the first three years, regardless of how great it may seem. Lelouch sacrificed himself for a better world, yes, but what’s going to happen when things go back to normal? 3 years, 4 years from now, the world is going to regress back into its bad habits.
Passion will get you far emotionally speaking and is part of the main reason why we as humanity are making discoveries that stretch our limits but passion is also part of the reason why using logical reasoning against someone will never work as a human. We’re wrapped up with our own passion, we’re certain that what we think is right because we’ve reached an understanding that can’t be described with words, only expressions that no one else can understand.
The ending of Code Geass is played as an ending that is bittersweet, a hopeful message that says to the audience that the world is still filled with the capacity to understand each other, a message that many people just seem to accept and move on. But I think the more important part lies not in Code Geass itself but instead the implications of our world that it has. There is no happy ending for Lelouch, he can only hope that when he dies the world would be okay, that Nunally would live in a more peaceful world.
Instead, he leaves behind a world that is built on hatred on one person, and sooner or later will collapse on him. It’s not a happy ending, it’s anything but. In making major changes to the world that will revert back to itself, he is no better than his father, who relied on a mechanical way to bring the world together. At least it would result in a world that would finally understand each other instead of bringing about countless deaths only to change nothing at all.
I don’t hate Code Geass. I honestly think it’s one of the most well made animes I’ve ever seen. Even with the dubious implications I can’t say that the rollercoasters of emotions I felt during the truly heartbreaking moments were fake, because they weren’t. Lelouch’s death is still all the more impactful.
My critique of Code Geass isn’t a critique of the anime itself. The anime as fucking amazing as it is devestating, a pure weapon of mass destruction meant to break your heart and leave you feeling sad yet satisfied.
But Code Geass only offers an escapist fantasy for the people who suffer through extreme amounts of trauma. Seeing Lelouch go through the same pains that everyone else does in making decisions that might affect them forever but triumphing in the end in his destructive behavior and his desire to see the world at peace, it comforts fans of the show. It gives us that sweet sweet validation we search our whole lives for.
But more than anything, what I want from an art is not an affirmation of my own self beliefs: I already know and believe in them. More than anything, I hoped for a legitimate measure of making the world a better place, not a superficial one.
The reason why I don’t love Code Geass as much as I could is due to this very reason, that it’s almost unrealistic stance throws me off. The world isn’t going to be fixed by a heroic sacrifice. It’s not going to be fixed by uniting a world under a common enemy: it only offers a temporary fix to a real solution. And it’s under this reason why I appreciate Evangelion so much, because it doesn’t take an unrealistic glance of destruction and killing yourself to fix all of the world’s problems. No, it takes the stance of self love, having to love yourself first because you can’t just fix the world’s problems if you can’t fix you and your perception of yourself.
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Usually when I write I write with a passion that’s enjoyable. Before I would go on a blaming spree that would never end, and it ended up hurting more people than it helped them understand.
So naturally, writing this was quite hard. It wasn’t that I was anxious about what everyone would have to say about it, it was just that it was a piece that I literally sat down and thought to myself: “Maybe I’m being too emotional with this, or maybe I’ve set it up in a way that people can’t really understand”
I can’t yell at you to understand what I’m saying especially when I’m being so extreme with my criticisms. The only real way is I hope that it will reach you guys, as poorly organized it was.
Thank you for reading.