Seize an Alamo, chill in your do-it-yourself casket and think about Hank Hill is really pleased as we study why Hank Hill is biggest trendy instance of an existential hero.
Introduction: Greetings from a mad, mad, (did I say mad) scientist.
Why hey Lastertime group! This is my first article for the website, so earlier than we get into the thick of issues, I needed to take a chance to put in writing a bit of extra personably and introduce myself. That means, all you fantastic individuals who took the time to learn it gained’t be left scratching your heads making an attempt to know why somebody would put a lot effort into creating a tutorial journal degree article (millennial humble brag) a few cartoon that, as I’m positive you’ll level out, I’m far too younger to know what I’m speaking about. That approach you’ll be able to dedicate your time to telling me how a lot my jokes suck in the feedback and how silly and by-product my concepts are (like stealing this metacommentary system from Stephen Colbert). Properly, as an getting old punk rocker who nonetheless thinks anarcho-syndicalism is a viable political ideology, I’m used to taking the proverbial cigarette in the arm, however let’s not make this political (yay Meta jokes).
I’m twenty six and one half years of age, and I’m an ex-academic scientist who is now working a extra translational analysis position inside larger schooling. I’ve a masters in experimental cognitive neuroscience, however my full background is neuroscience, psychology, and economics. I’ve labored on analysis in synesthesia, decision-making, environmental attitudes, institutional economics, and visible and haptic notion (PM me if you wish to learn my grasp’s thesis on the measurement weight perceptual phantasm). Principally, once I was a tutorial scientist doing primary analysis, I received write and take into consideration a whole lot of cool shit. And the cause I obtained into considering and writing about all this cool shit is due to my two oldest passions, philosophy and cartoons. However now that I’m a part of the wage slavery system since I refused to play the petty politics of the tenure system (oh no, extra politics!) I don’t have as many alternatives to cowl the issues I’m tremendous enthusiastic about (although they do come up in my job occasionally). Now that I’ve a gentle day job, the place a 3rd of my examine goes to the authorities, and the different third goes to the authorities however they name it scholar loans, I can lastly pursue one in every of my many Randy Marsh-Homer esque goals of the week, and use all that additional schooling I don’t want (I really feel you, Bob Mackey) to provide the topics I’m really passionate of the educational remedy. Educational degree analysis, however with the language and writing fashion I by no means get to make use of. So let’s get this motherfucker began. Be sure to tape down your nipples or they only may get blown off. Simply name me the professor! Or don’t, I don’t give a shit (completely punk rock). This is America, a free nation and I respect your proper to do no matter you need.
Rick and Morty Versus King of the Hill (KoTH): Which does existentialism higher?
Cartoons and I are previous hat, and regardless of being so inexperienced round the gills, I’ve doubtless received extra TV view time hour-per-hour than most octogenarians (however to be truthful, they in all probability spent a great deal of their life with out the luxurious, so I had higher verify my privilege). It was cartoons that received me into philosophy, nevertheless it wasn’t animation at first. It was somewhat recognized cartoon referred to as Calvin and Hobbes (which additionally obtained me into cartooning), which I don’t assume ever actually caught on with youngsters my age. It might have been too deep for them, as a result of let’s be actual, it’s essential to have a reasonably excessive IQ to take pleasure in Calvin and Hobbes… So anyway, now that I’m executed jerking myself off, let’s speak about cartoons and my favourite faculties of philosophy: existentialism and absurdism. Meaning prepare my glib glops, we now have to take a fast detour to Rick and Morty.
Now, earlier than the demise threats begin let me say this, I completely love Rick and Morty, and have been on board to the present since my suite-mate confirmed me the pilot senior yr of school. I feel the present is a stellar instance of existential and absurdist literature. I don’t want to elucidate to you, pricey readers, how Rick and Morty tackles the ideas of the absurd and the existential. There are many assume items on that on the market and I might merely be repeating what has already been established. As an alternative, permit me to speak about the present that encapsulates existentialism and absurdism in methods Rick and Morty might solely dream of: King of The Hill (KoTH). Permit me, for a second, to distinction the two exhibits.
At first look, Rick and Morty and KoTH couldn’t look like extra totally different. One is a zany sci-fi journey that pits characters towards the cosmic horror and utter indifference of the universe. The opposite is a grounded and practical portrayal of the barely conventional and conservative household responding to the radical cultural modifications of the go-go 90s. Nevertheless, each exhibits cope with the banality and absurdity of recent life when confronted with the final existential fact. That fact, is that in the future you’ll die. So will everybody you have got ever recognized. After a surprisingly few generations, your identify will probably be more than likely forgotten to historical past such as you by no means even existed.
The distinction in how these exhibits strategy this fact, is that Rick and Morty achieve this an specific and overt style whereas KoTH, on account of the want for the present to be grounded in actuality and strategy absurdity with a better diploma of subtly. (are you able to consider a cartoon, or any sitcom for that matter, that is extra “real” that KoTH?) To border the exhibits in the context of different items of existential and absurdist literature, Rick and Morty is Kafka, Lovecraft, one half of Vonnegut, Camus, and Ready for Godot, and KoTH is Sartre, the different half of Vonnegut, Camus and Ready for Godot (Get it?). Moreover, a putting distinction is that Hank typically acts as a realized existential hero whereas Rick typically fails to take action, succumbing as an alternative to bitterness and defeat.
All through this thesis, basic items of existential and absurdist writing might be used to spotlight the behavioral and character traits that trigger that trigger Rick to finally fail as an existential hero and that exhibit Hank shrines as the pinnacle of an Ubermensch (to be able to get that candy 12 – 30 y/o market, you bought to attraction to the youngsters; so every little thing has to reference Rick and Morty each few seconds, and I’m effective with that.). When push involves shove, Rick is crammed with nervousness and doubt whereas Hank acts with the conviction of a person who has stared deep inside the void and come away figuring out precisely who he is. This is greater than metaphorical. Hank has actually survived a propane explosion that killed Buckley. If nothing else, Hank has some critical survivor’s guilt. However earlier than we get to the deep cuts central to this thesis, we first want to know the central query at the coronary heart of all existential and absurdist philosophy; a query that some argue is the solely query value asking: ought to I kill myself? (Properly that obtained fucking darkish). To reply that, we should flip to Albert Camus and the fantasy of Sisyphus.
The Fable of Hank Hill: Propane and Propane Equipment
Earlier than we get any additional, it’s in all probability greatest to notice and clarify the distinction between existentialism and absurdism. Although thus far in the essay I’ve been utilizing the phrases interchangeably, they’re very distinctive faculties of thought, that each originate, kind of, from the similar viewpoint (meaningless struggling is inevitable in life). Each faculties of thought try and reply the query of what to do when one reaches the conclusion of the futility and meaninglessness of 1’s existence. Sartre’s existentialism argued that as a result of people have been acutely aware beings, they create their very own which means in a meaningless universe. Lots of the existentialist philosophers, comparable to Sartre and Kierkegaard (although for Kierkegaard, God is the final conclusion), embrace this creation of which means as basically human and argue that these creations are what makes life vital. For Kierkegaard, this manifests in his “leap of faith” that permits for the subjective acceptance of God with out goal proof. For Sartre, this represents the expression of his idea of radical freedom, the concept that people are all the time making a acutely aware selection of their actions and character, although that selection could also be between life and demise. For existentialists, the existential hero is one who creates his personal which means in the face of meaninglessness.
Camus, conversely, rejects this creation of which means as “absurd”, which means that simply since you create your personal which means in the universe, doesn’t imply it’s truly fact. Or as my principal man Leopold “Butters” Stotch places it, “you can call a shovel an ice-cream machine, Mom and Dad, but it’s still a shovel. (Season 5, Episode 14).” In reality, the creation of synthetic which means distracts people from answering the solely essential query we face in life,
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether or not life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. (The Myth of Sisyphus. Albert Camus, 1942)”
That’s some fairly heavy shit, and I’m positive I’ve misplaced most of you, however in the event you cling in there, I promise you’ll depart satisfied that Hank Hill manages to encapsulate each the existential and absurdist hero in ways in which Rick Sanchez solely might after having his toxins eliminated.
In the ultimate essay of the Fable of Sisyphus, the titular cash shot, Camus recounts the Greek fable of Sisyphus, who was punished for defying the gods by being pressured to roll a big rock up a hill every day solely to have it roll again down afterwards, to start anew the subsequent day for all eternity. In the finish, Camus says of Sisyphus:
“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. (The Myth of Sisyphus. Albert Camus, 1942).”
Principally, Camus is arguing that an absurdist hero is one who learns respect the experience for what it is.
So as to perceive the connection between the fantasy of Sisyphus, existentialism and KoTH, one should first look at the core premise of the KoTH. Hank Hill, in some ways, is a person out of time. He’s labored exhausting and performed by the guidelines his entire life, loves his household, honors his mom and shit bag (however comedic delight) of a father, and works more durable than any sonofabitch in reddest elements of Trump Nation (significantly dude, the politics are usually not humorous, let it go). And what does hank hill get in return? A loopy spouse (and objectively horrible individual) in Peggy, a disappointment of a son in Bobby, buddies who convey nothing to his life however an endless cavalcade of more and more outlandish issues, and a snooty Laotian neighbor.
I feel this argument can greatest summed up in Hank Hill’s personal well-known salutations, “Hank Hill, Strickland Propane” and “I’m Hank Hill. I sell propane and propane accessories.” Hank Hill faces the similar absurd issues day in and day trip, however “pimping that sweet lady propane (Season 5, Episode 13)” makes all of it value it.
Hank Hill reaches this conclusion for himself in Season 2 Episode 13, Snow Job. On this episode, Buck Strickland suffers a coronary heart assault provides momentary administration of Strickland Propane to stuffy MBA Lloyd Vickers, successfully passing Hank over. As Hank’s notion of Buck as a paragon of propane advantage fades over the course of an more and more bleak flip of occasions, Hank is rocked to his core and pressured to query whether or not or not he really belongs in the propane recreation. Caught in a match of mania, Hank is seemingly prepared to show away from the head ache and stress of propane to a extra easy life as a Mother and Pop store proprietor. As he excitedly plans his new stress free life, he notices a number of missed calls on his answering machine. A number of propane emergencies await Hank, who in the throes of writing his official resignation from Strickland, remembers who he is and what he does. He is Hank Hill, and he sells propane and propane equipment. And off Hank goes, to surmount the mountain of winter with the environment friendly clear burning heat of propane’s mild embrace.
And I depart Hank Hill right here at the foot of the grill. One all the time finds one’s burden once more. However Hank Hill teaches the larger constancy that negates the gods and raises steaks. He too concludes that each one is nicely. This universe henceforth with no grasp appears to him neither sterile nor futile. Every atom of that propane, every mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, types a world. The wrestle itself towards the heights is sufficient to fill a person’s coronary heart. One should think about Hank Hill joyful.
Hank Hill Uber Alles: Hank Hill is All the time an Ubermensch
A part of the purpose I needed to put in writing about the existential and absurdist themes of KoTH as an alternative of Rick and Morty is that Rick and Morty has been accomplished to demise, and it kills me to need to hold coming again to it. However the web loves to color Rick out as an Ubermensch, however I feel there could also be proof to the opposite (resume the demise threats). Now, by Dan Harmon’s personal admission (and I agree), Rick is meant to be an anarchist who lives by his personal guidelines and hates authorities paperwork. Nevertheless, Rick is not all the time as cool as cucumber (or pickle) as he claims to be. As soon as life turns into difficult or is not handy for him, he is greater than prepared to hold it up. As we discover the idea of an Ubermensch in larger depth, we discover Rick’s actions are exactly the reverse of what an Ubermensch would do. Rick actively makes an attempt to attenuate or keep away from struggling. An Ubermensch embraces it.
Now the Ubermensch comes from 4chan’s favourite thinker (I’m taking him again, God rattling it!) Friedrich Nietzsche, and particularly the idea of everlasting recurrence. One finds a substantial amount of similarity between Nietzsche’s everlasting recurrence and Camus’ Fantasy of Sisyphus.
Relatively than attempt to sum up everlasting recurrence myself, and butcher it worse than True Detective, I invite you to take a look at this Video from Wisecrack that explains it utilizing Megaman. Should you didn’t click on that hyperlink, it principally argues that everlasting recurrence boils right down to a thought experiment by which a person is introduced with the actuality of existence as countless and meaningless struggling. For most individuals, this causes despair and a hatred of their very own existence. This hatred is futile as a result of it doesn’t assuage your struggling. For Nietzsche, this represents a check for particular person to rise above (I do know the LTC loves Black Flag) and select to not solely embrace the struggling and distress of existence, however to be completely satisfied regardless of all of it. An Ubermensch is one who seems to be at the meaningless struggling of the universe and says, “Hold my Alamo.”
Rick’s nihilistically insecure tendencies are what forestall him from being a totally realized existential or absurdist hero. He chooses to remain alive in the similar means he makes virtually all of his different selections, as long as it stays handy. In season three episode 2, Rickmancing the Stone, we get the most overt reference to this theme. Particularly, Rick actually says “the purpose of automation is to reduce cost and labor.” The theme of that episode’s subplot depends on Rick permitting Morty and Summer time to stay in a post-apocalyptic Mad Maxian universe as long as it stays handy for him. As soon as the robots begin to require real effort, a fast cost-benefit evaluation signifies it’s time to rescue the youngsters.
As we noticed in the finish of Season 2 Episode three, Auto Erotic Assimilation, Rick is greater than able to kill himself when confronted with struggling. Rick typically chooses in charge others for his issues, quite than settle for his personal decisions and choice making. This is summed up fairly properly in the remedy monologue given by Susan Sarandon, in Season three Episode four Pickle Rick who factors out that Rick’s largest problem is accepting his personal radical freedom: that his decisions are his personal.
We will go even additional and break this right down to degree of Rick’s dialogue. Rick typically describes his actions as responses to different actions. The entire purpose we see Rick and Jerry’s journey in the Whirly Dirly Conspiracy (Season three, Episode 5) is as a result of he’s “doing it as a favor to Morty to keep Jerry from killing himself.” Rick claims he’s doing it as a result of an emotional Morty would “impede his work.” We later discover that this was all a ploy and Morty merely needs a while “away from the bullshit.” Since Rick is not solely a genius, however a grasp Morty manipulator, he must be absolutely conscious of Morty’s dishonesty. At the very least, he shouldn’t be so simply outwitted by Morty (besides in checkers). This isn’t even mentioning that Rick might simply change universes every time he needs (and typically chooses to not) or that he shouldn’t give a flying fuck about Morty’s emotions. But the state of affairs supplies a handy alternative for Rick to keep away from his struggling by making an attempt to pin his selections to others. Subsequently, he creates this mislead masks his insecurities and attachment to Morty (as an alternative of proudly owning it like a person) and create the phantasm that he “has no choice” however to take Jerry on an journey.
Conversely, Hank Hill typically rises above and plows by means of the struggling, and he does all of it with out Rick’s bitching and complaining as a result of that’s what a Texan (born in New York) does. One of the best instance of Hank Hill’s unwavering tenacity in the face of impending doom comes from Season 5, Episode 9, Chasing Bobby. On this basic episode, we get to see a uncommon sight: Hank Hill crying like a bit bitch (properly that was unnecessarily sexist). Now I do know what you all have to be considering: wouldn’t a crying Hank Hill be the reverse of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch as I’ve simply described him. Typically, sure it might (if all you realize about Nietzsche comes from 4chan). Nevertheless, if we keep in mind the idea of everlasting recurrence because it associated to the Ubermensch, in addition to perceive the reason for Hank Hill’s tears, we discover that on this instance, Hank Hill’s crying is the final characterization of an Ubermensch: a person who is prepared to constantly smash his face into the wall and enjoy the endless struggling that is truck possession.
On this episode, Hank’s beloved pickup truck is on its final legs. The mechanics inform Hank the ol’ woman has no more than 500 miles left on her earlier than she’s gone for good. Everybody says Hank ought to simply rip the band help off, and purchase a brand new truck. Hank is unwilling to simply accept this, a minimum of on the floor (I do know, this an enormous level towards my argument) however deep down, he is aware of the finish is coming for his truck. Hank’s pals and household all attempt to persuade Hank to skip losing his time and cash fixing the truck, and merely to purchase a brand new one. Contemplating most of us aren’t Ubermensch (I consider the youngsters name this being a cuck) most of us would possible attempt to keep away from this struggling by shopping for a brand new truck. Now, one might argue this may be the Ubermensch determination (however they might be improper) as a result of the particular person is not making an attempt to flee from the actuality that their truck is dying. Nevertheless, I might argue that the one that buys the new truck is the one who is making an attempt to flee the actuality that ALL of their vans will inevitably die, and that we should settle for and endure the course of as Hank Hill does every and each time. Hank doesn’t attempt to escape and shorten his grieving, however as an alternative accepts and embraces this struggling to the bitter finish (the fiery explosion of his truck on the practice tracks). This is why Hank Hill’s womanly weeping (there he goes with the sexism once more, what the hell! It’s not prefer it was implied Hank was womanly in the episode or something!) is what finally portrays him as an Ubermensch. Hank was a given a selection, to keep away from or embrace the struggling that comes with truck possession. Hank made his selection; the solely selection a person like Hank could make. Hank Hill selected struggling.
The deep dive on Hank Hill’s psyche continues on the subsequent web page!