First Candide, then A Cool Million, Now What?
As I was reading A Cool Million
I began thinking about the topic for my next blog post. Then it hit me: Candide! A Cool Million
is EXACTLY like Voltaire’s Candide!
Delighted by my own brilliance (ok, I’m exaggerating here), I googled Candide A Cool Million
to see if I was stating the obvious or if maybe I was the first to make the perfect connection. To my disappointment, the very first website that popped up was last year's Place Studies site with, yes, a comparison between Candide and A Cool Million.
Even the Wikipedia article
mentions it.Yeah. Real original.
So I won’t be writing about the many ways in which A Cool Million
I’ll instead focus on the modern day “philosophy” that a Voltaire or a West would want to disprove.
But if you’re a bit fuzzy on the details of Candide
and how it might relate to A Cool Million
, I’ll make a brief summary (also, if you’re interested in the book and have some time to waste on the internet, I posted the first section of Candide
the musical below. It’s really amusing even if musicals make you want to puke sometimes.):
Candide is the bastard child of a Baron‘s sister. He lives with the noble family and falls in love with his cousin, Cunegonde (almost exactly like Betty except wealthy.) All the characters of Candide are taught by a philosopher named Pangloss who is an almost exact replica of Shagpole. They are taught to believe that they live in the best of all possible worlds, where only the best of all possible things can happen. War breaks out and a lot of people are disemboweled, Cunegonde is raped and made a sex slave repeatedly… Pangloss contracts syphilis… and on and on, The only thing that doesn’t change throughout the story is that the characters all still pathetically believe that they live in the best of all possible worlds. Even the racism in Cool Million
is pretty comparable to Candide.
So while I was reading A Cool Million
I couldn’t help but wonder what a modern philosopher’s take on the overly optimistic or rags-to-riches philosophy would be?
My first thought was that it would have to be something to do with science solving all problems. Maybe it would end up as more science fiction than anything else (Vonnegut
anyone?) Or maybe it would make fun of the lack of evolution in humans and the continual evolution of technology? The overuse of antidepressants? ADD medication? Plastic surgery? That
could be funny.
Or maybe a modern version would make fun of the everyone-is-as-special-as-a-snowflake-philosophy. It could feature masses of teenagers watching rapstars (are they even called rapstars? Did I just make that up?) and pregnant sixteen year olds between hour long advertisements on MTV. They would walk out of their house so that they could talk about it, with their friends. Who would all be dressed the same. And they would all respect each other as individuals with individual opinions, so they would make sure to always agree, all the time.
Or better yet, maybe our modern optimism isn’t optimism at all. Maybe the real satire is in how sarcastic and pessimistic we are even when our stomachs are full, our homes warm, and we live under a functioning democracy.