Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day One Hundred and Fifty-five - Happy, "How to get Happy? Try. That's it."

I am very rarely disappointed by documentaries... and I find it particularly ironic to be so with Happy.

On location across the world, in places both affluent and isolated, Happy tours the gamut of socioeconomic statuses, mostly focusing on the poor and communal showing them to be quite happy folks, much more so than your typical westerner who emphasizes money and materialism.

And, I think I could get behind that message if the piece wasn't so damned lazy explaining it. The science involved here is glazed over with relatively few experts barely touching their respective subjects and a disproportionate amount of airtime is spent lingering on poor folks doing what they love with whom they love and living very happy lives.

Well, that's great and all, but there needs to be more science and less anecdotal interviews when talking about a core concept.

I was especially disappointed when around the middle of the doc, there's this rather longish segment about a middle school lecturer/comedian trying to call out bullying with this "keeping it edgy/real" persona to connect with the kids. It comes out of nowhere and doesn't seem to fit with the themes of the doc at all.

That's not to say some of the interview subjects don't have relevant things to say, but most of them are just examples of possibilities without a lot of hard facts to back them up.

Take, for example, the karoshi segment. Heart-rending, to be sure. Interesting, most certainly, but barely any time is spent on the phenomena. I would much rather have had each and every one of these individual stories given prime treatment, turning them into hour long, in depth analyses with science to back them up. Instead, the doc briefly describes karoshi and gives a short segment on one of its victims.


And that's the problem with the whole doc. Instead of spending its time honestly, it meanders from place to place giving fruitless vignettes about happy, salt of the earth types with a few tragedies or ironies to give the barest of contrasts.

It's a shame... because, as one of the researchers who is only briefly featured noted, no one used to talk about happiness, only depression. Now, apparently, they're talking about it to no effect. But that's okay, it seems. Just get out there and exercise and find some close friends.

That's all you need, really, according to the doc.That and an adjusted income of no more or less than 50k dollars.

It's nice to hear quotes from the Dalai Lama about compassion, but they lose their efficacy in a hamfisted doc like this.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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