The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


June 19, 2005


Schadenfreude

scha·den·freu·de Pronunciation Key (shädn-froid)
n. – Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

From Wikipedia: “Ultimately though, in the english language Schadenfreude is commonly characterized as ’sick pleasure’.”

Schadenfreude, as a word, has been a recent addition to the average person’s lexicon. As a concept, however, it is probably as old as time itself. I consider it to be a corollary to the concept of envy. We wish ill on those who are better off than and find pleasure in those worse off than ourselves.

These concepts are on the extreme end of normal human emotion. Seeing those who are doing well in life can give us motivation to do more to emulate their success. Seeing those who are downtrodden can remind us to be grateful for what we have, and bring out our altruistic side when we help those. But it can easily be taken too far. Envy is an irrational hatred of those who are doing well, and lends it to treating them as scapegoats when things go bad for us. The left side of the political sphere has made an art of blaming the rich for the poor being poor. Coupled with that hatred is a desire to tear down those who are doing well, and the pleasure (Schadenfreude) that comes with it.

In the political and economic realm, I am not one for envy or schadenfreude. But I am certainly not above reproach. My envy is reserved for those who have acheived a cult status and hero worship for simple things like singing or acting talent. I am not envious of their money, mind you, but I absolutely despise the fact that they are elevated to such a high position in society with seemingly no actual accomplishments to justify it. In one of my first posts, Elevating the Depraved, I went into more detail about it, but I don’t see why we laud these people for what they do. The rapid rise of “reality TV” has done even more damage, to award fame to bombastic TV personalities (i.e. Bob Guinney) who are not even famous for being talented actors or actresses, they’re famous simply for being on TV.

In addition, and completely unrelated to fame, I seem to find it hilarious when people injure themselves. My wife doesn’t understand it, but when I’m watching TV and someone falls off a skateboard, does multiple flips down the side of a mountain on a snowboard, I laugh my butt off. It’s especially funny when it is someone doing something dumb and getting his just desserts, i.e. someone trying to jump a hedge on a skateboard and face-planting, or watching someone trying to pull off a motorcycle stunt, ending in the bike doing cartwheels one direction and them doing them the other. I don’t find it funny when someone is actually seriously injured, but as long as it’s kept non-life-threatening, it’s pretty darn funny. Of course, this one hits a lot closer to home, because if someone videotapes me being stupid, it’s quite likely someone like me will be laughing hysterically at my misfortune.

Does that make me a bad person? Well, I’m working on getting over my resentment of celebrities, because that is irrational and does me no good. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop laughing at the second group. After all, face-plants are pretty funny.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 7:37 pm || Permalink || Comments (4) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized

4 Comments

  1. I was watching Jackass the Movie the other night. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I haven’t laughed that hard at something that stupid in a while.

    Oh, and as long as you can laugh at yourself, there won’t be a problem with someone videotaping you doing something stupid. I know it wasn’t with me when I (accidentally) tried to knock down a goalpost at one of my soccer games last season…I actually made the local news as their play of the week, too!

    Comment by Mike — June 19, 2005 @ 8:37 pm
  2. Yeah, Jackass is incredibly dumb, but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny!

    A story: last summer my wife, myself, and several friends went to Laughlin, NV. We went out and rented a speedboat for a few hours, with me behind the wheel. The boat seemed to turn right a lot easier than left, and as we were cruising along at full throttle, I was trying to change direction to minimize the effect of hitting another boat’s wake. Well, I turned right, and the boat turned a lot more than I had intended. I was tossed out of the seat, everyone in the boat nearly left the boat, and it made about one or two circles in the water before I could scramble over and cut the throttle. Yeah, I still haven’t lived that one down. I can only imagine if someone had caught it on tape!

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 19, 2005 @ 9:39 pm
  3. Brad, Does that mean that’s why I grin every time I see Paris Hilton do something so stupid. That girl is beautiful but she has no idea what real life is like.
    I’m not even going to make a comment about the second half of your post. You are hell bent on killing yourself. We’ll see who’s laughing then. Sorry if I sound like your mom.

    Comment by Lucy Stern — June 19, 2005 @ 11:36 pm
  4. Did you ever have Schadenfreude with saur kraut and beer?

    Talk about guilty pleasures, it amuses me to no end when I’m in public and someone’s kid starts screaming and throwing a fit. Maybe I find that hilarious since my wife and I have no children. I would rather watch that than any sitcom on TV any day of the week.

    Comment by otho — June 21, 2005 @ 12:36 pm

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