Thursday, January 22, 2015

Arrogant Geniuses

What has arrogance to do with genius? Nothing really. At least not in real life. But somehow onscreen they seem to be inseparable.

Arrogance we are taught is a bad thing. Good people are humble. So obviously we get attracted to arrogance like smoking of that first joint or getting wasted in defiance of our preachy family and friends. When Mark ridicules a girl in the 'The Social Network' because he can think faster than her (and perhaps speak faster than he can think), we love it as an audience. When Steve abuses a programmer for not thinking as big as he does in 'Jobs' we join in in the abuse and marvel at the grand ideas that the hero is capable of. When Alan in 'The Imitation Game' fires a few guys unceremoniously, guys who have toiled at the problem as much as he has, the whole theater erupts in laughter. I wonder what I will feel if my boss fires me for having a low IQ and the whole office laughs their heart out pointing at me.

Obviously we are not putting ourselves in the shoes of the people getting put down. We think of ourselves as the conquering hero. We get to be a brilliant scientist revolutionizing science itself. Or a passionate entrepreneur who changes the way people go about their very lives. When the canvas is so large a little fun at the expense of a dumb-witted guy is OK. Is needed in fact. To prove the authenticity of the intellect in question.

I'm a woman in a man's job. I don't have the luxury of being an ass - Joan Clarke in 'The Imitation Game'

Is it indeed a luxury? Would a genius look less of a genius if she is always pleasant and nice to people? If he is not socially awkward? I wonder how a Albert Einstein or a Swami Vivekananda will be portrayed on screen? They were undoubtedly few of the greatest minds the world has ever seen. But it is hard to imagine them as arrogant. Of course I am not saying that Alan Turing, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg were or are asses. They might be sugar for all I know. But Directors choosing to show them as crazed go-getters and we loving them for it, tells us something about ourselves.

Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying. But remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes... hollow. - Alan Turing in 'The Imitation Game'

I have had opportunity of really hurting people with words. And I have let my tongue loose on many a occasion. I have been on the wrong side of the deal often times too. That crushing feeling when you are smaller than the smallest object in sight. And I have realized that truly smart, really wise people don't do that. They just can't. In fact, it is so true that it can be a test to understand someone with. I think we have mistaken style for wisdom. And bling for style.

Any fool can know. The point is to understand. - Albert Einstein

If I become a genius I would like to be shown like Phalke in 'Harishchandrachi Factory'. A brilliant inventor and artist who is many times funny and always likable. Even in the worst of times he is never crass.

And yes, I believe genius is a matter of becoming. Not being.

[Pictures courtesy -,,,,]