"Arthur, you're making the other accountants nervous. We all find this kind of... rampant individuality... very disturbing."
— Mr. Widerspann, The Tick
Helen Parr: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Bob Parr: It's not a graduation. He's moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade.
Helen: (pleadingly) It's a ceremony!
Bob: It's psychotic. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity! But if someone is genuinely exceptional...
"What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence—moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty how "democracy" (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them "tyrants" then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of corn, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of any stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser, or better, or more famous, or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level; all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus tyrants could practise, in a sense, "democracy". But now "democracy" can do the same work without any other tyranny than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks."
—Screwtape, Screwtape Proposes a Toast
"Everyone, either from modesty or egotism, hides away the best and most delicate of his soulís possessions; to gain the esteem of others, we must only ever show our ugliest sides; this is how we keep ourselves on the common level."
—Gustave Flaubert, November
"...one of the many fine things one has to admit is the way that the army has carried the American democratic ideal to its logical conclusion in the sense that not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on the grounds of ability."
— Tom Lehrer, "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier"
In Scotland, there's an enduring hatred of people who are too successful.
—Christopher Brookmyre, Caledonia Dreaming
"One did not accidentally graduate from top-tier schools. One strove to get in and to maintain grades once there, and to do that, one usually needed to be a master at conformity. To excel in all the accepted conventions. No, the truly different thinkers often went unnoticed.Ē
—Daniel Suarez, Influx
"America is proud of what it does to its writers, the way it breaks and bedevils them, rendering them deluded or drunken or dead by their own hands. To overpower its tender spirits makes America feel tough. Careers are generally short."
—Martin Amis, "The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America"
A politician is being given a tour of Hell. At one point he finds a giant, furiously boiling kettle with dozens of demons around it, tridents poking into the liquid.
What's that? he asks.
His demon guard replies, "That's where we keep the Jews. Every time one of them manages to get out, they all try to follow him, so we have to be very careful."
They move on, and soon come to a larger kettle, but this one has far fewer demons. The guest asks why.
"Oh, that's where we keep the Poles. When one of them gets out, the others just ignore him. So we don't need to keep as much security."
They move on again, and soon come to a still-larger kettle, but this time there are no demons at all. Before the guest can ask, the demon guide says,
"That's where we keep the Russians. Every time one tries to get out, the others grab him and pull him back in!"
—Typical Russian Humor
"...and how much envy of the capability of other people in view of one's lack of it lies hidden in anti-Semitism!"
—German philosopher Oswald Spengler, in his diary, after 1933
"The theory seems to be that so long as a man is a failure he is one of God's chillun, but that as soon as he has any luck he owes it to the Devil."
"Fourth grade, academically, was not what I would call one of the good years. Actually, it's decisively the worst year of elementary school. The issue was a teacher who was, and you'll have to forgive my profound lack of humility here, completely unsuited to having a smart kid in her class...Some teachers I had rose to the challenge, testing me back, trying to see if they could find my limits. Others treated me as an inconvenient barrier to what I imagine they saw as their real job, educating people who were not already smart. Mrs. Aschauer, my fourth grade teacher, was in the latter category, a problem that culminated in the absurd moment in which she suggested to me that many of my problems could be solved if only I'd stop being so smart."
"Thatís really TNA in a nutshell: so much crap going on that you need like six brains to try to handle it all. Or maybe no brains, as hereís a little known TNA fun fact for you: there have been very few people in this company that had the ability to move ratings at all. Believe it or not, for a period of time, an appearance by Daffney of all people did move the needle and get more viewers to tune in (or ďpop a ratingĒ as the kids used to say back in the í90s). Those in charge of TNA knew this, and thus decided to stop booking her on television."
"There has never been a Hollywood director more successful than Steven Spielberg. Not Cecil B. DeMille, not John Ford, not Frank Capra or Alfred Hitchcock or George Lucas or Francis Ford Coppola or any combination of two of those names...Because you cannot be stupid and get far in Hollywood, the people who make bad movies are usually smart enough to know they are bad. Hollywood is such a competitive town that you need to be smart, gifted and luck to claw yourself up to the point where you can make bad movies. There is a lot of self-hatred involved.
Now here comes this kid who makes it look so easy. Who can't seem to fail. Who makes a movie like E.T. that not only grosses hundreds of millions of dollars but is just as popular all over the world as here at home, and is even acclaimed as a masterpiece of popular art. There is something unfair about it. Nobody should get all the breaks.
...Spielberg made the first major movie in years that was entirely devoted to an aspect of the black experience in America, and the Hollywood establishment ignored the movie for reasons that had little or nothing to do with the movie itself! It's not even that the voters didn't like it. They probably did like it. But in the politics of Oscar (can't you hear them saying), 'This just wasn't Steven's year.'"
"I donít care if you make a crappy sequel to The Mask with your even crappier Jamie Kennedy. We are talking about a cheap cash in. I get that. But if you are making a cheap cash in, why the f*ck would you give this schmuck more than $30 million, 40, 50, 60, 90 MILLION!? Where do you draw the line? Where do you stop? It just seems to me if I were the head of New Line, I would say 'You want your crappy cash in, you have $30 million to make it and no more.' There at least with theatrical release and DVD sales, you make a tidy profit. But with 90 million, you need at least 180 million dollars to make back your money... Think of the sheer number of low budget movies that could be made on $90 million dollars. Or the number of movies you could make with Evan Almightyís budget of 200 million. Think of the number of wonderful directors that cannot get even a few million for their projects. Steven Spielberg, arguably the greatest director working today (arguably), cannot get $30 million to finish his Abe Lincoln biopic he had been wanting to do for years. Steven Spielberg no, but Son of the Mask; yes, yes, 90 million dollars YES!!!"
"Originally, Joel Soisson, the writer of [Highlander] Endgame, wrote the script. Not surprisingly, it sucked. He got dropped from the project, and Peter Briggs, the screenwriter for Hellboy, came in. In preparation for the project, Briggs actually did research and listened to fans, rewatching all of the movies and the TV series and signing up on the official Highlander message boards under an alias so he could figure out what fans wanted. With someone so dedicated to making a quality film, itís not surprising that he got kicked off the project. Canít have quality and a respect for the source material in this franchise, no sirree. His replacement was Stephen Kelvin Watkins, a guy who had never written a professional screenplay before and who I assume was hired because he came on the cheap."
Chief Inspector: I know what you're going to say, Nicholas, but the fact is you've been making us all look bad.
Nicholas Angel: I'm sorry, sir?
Chief Inspector: Of course, we all appreciate your efforts, but you've been rather letting the side down.
Met Inspector: It's all about being a team player, Nicholas.
Met Sergeant: You can't be the Sheriff of London.
Chief Inspector: If we let you carry on running around town, you'll continue to be exceptional... and we can't have that. You'll put us all out of a job.
"Resentment is simply an expression of envy, the first and deadliest of sins. Adam and Eve envied God's knowledge of good and evil, Cain envied Abel, Ishmael envied Isaac, Esau envied Jacob, Joseph's brothers envied the favorite son, and the Gentiles envied the nation of Israel. Why reject what comes from on high to worship one's own image, unless you resent the higher authority?
The culture of resentment runs so deep in the American character that the self-pitying drone of immiserated farmers, amplified by the petulant adolescents of the 1950s as a remonstration against parental authority, now dominates the musical life of American Christians. Not only Christian country, but Christian Rock and Christian heavy metal have become mainstream commercial genre. I agree with the minority of Christians who eschew Christian rock as "the music of the devil", although not for the same reasons: it is immaterial whether Christian rock substitutes "Jesus Christ" for "Peggy Sue", permitting its listeners to associate putatively Christian music with secular music with implied sexual content. It is diabolical because the style itself is born of resentment. [...]
The Beautiful is not the Good. The Good is sui generis, independent of any beauty devised by human craft. But we willfully choose what is ugly over what is beautiful because we are ugly, and prefer to worship our own ugliness rather than the beauty created by an inspired few. That is not merely execrable bad taste. Ultimately it is a form of idolatry. The evangelicals' inability to rise above the ambient culture is their great failing."
—David "Spengler" P. Goldman, American Idolatry