Q: My younger brother dropped out of college and moved back in with our parents. I think it had a lot to do with stress and anxiety about school, but he also smokes a lot of weed. I want to help him get his life back on track, but I'm pretty sure the last thing he needs is someone telling him how he's screwed up so far. How can I encourage him to make something of his life?
Big Hand for a Little Brother
A: Ah, yes, the typical slacker brother. Your sibling—and you—seem to be trapped in one of the many mythic narratives created by contemporary society to help individuals process their own alienation and ennui. You may as well be living in a “Seth Rogen” movie, mindlessly mimicking the dialogue of a faux-independent film about an adult manchild who must learn a lesson. If you begin to critique your brother, you will simply be a reflection of the Spectacle, ritualistically mouthing a script of a representation of human relations. As Debord writes, “All that has been directly lived has become a mere representation.
I’m sure that if you do offer a critique, your brother will ignore your advice until the second act, when a whimsical young woman sweeps him off his feet and shows him how to adapt his own “independent mindset” into commercial capitalism. Therefore, direct confrontation is to be avoided unless you love clichés and subtle sexism. However, your brother’s apparent disinclination to engage in capitalist models of “success” may offer an entry point to dismantling dominant narratives.
Your only option is to disrupt the stranglehold of the Spectacle. Become inspired by the narrative crushing work of Marina Abramovic and the Situationists. Leave cryptic messages in blood on his pillowcase. Replace his toothbrush with human teeth. Kidnap him, and force him to perform Miley Cyrus songs backwards. Your only hope is to break him before he meets Natalie Portman.