I'll just go ahead and say it bluntly. Sometimes, I just really wish my brain would shut the fuck up. It whispers in my ear too much, always forcing me to doubt things, people, and situations, or analyze them into oblivion, until the things, people, and situations no longer resemble themselves but are instead dispersed, wholly uninteresting atoms. That most traitorous of organs will lull me into a sense of trusting, soporific, blissful ignorance for about ten minute intervals, only to then wrap a cane around my neck and yank me off that tantalizing stage and into a jarring, wintry reality where I am naked and there is nothing fun to do. I don't know how to turn it off. Drugs and alcohol don't work. In fact, they kind of amplify the problem. There is nothing worse than being drunk off your ass and finding yourself stuck in a prison made of mirrored walls...
But I digress. This was supposed to be a fun post. Imagine that!
I'm here to talk about paradoxes. Not the philosophical ones, like Zeno's Paradoxes that stipulate that motion is merely an illusion, and are tossed around pretentious corduroy-jacket-with-elbow-patches academic circles. No, I'm going to keep this relatively simple and mainstream and talk about the presences of paradoxes in movies.
If you don't know what a paradox actually is, just think of it as the migraine-causing element of a storyline, the one that makes you go: "What the??" Or "But how did they... if the... you know... this is... there...but... not... DAMMIT MY BRAIN IS EXPLODING!"
Take, for instance, the movie The Terminator. Now, if you haven't seen the movie(s) in a few years or need a refresher, I'll provide you with a quick synopsis:
The future has been taken over by machines that became self-aware and decided to start a war with humans. The leader of the human resistance is a man named John Connor. The robots then come up with this brilliant plan to send a Terminator back through time to kill John Connor's mother, thereby preventing Connor's birth. The humans become aware of this little ploy and send a man back through time as well to protect John's mother from the Terminator. This man ends up falling in love with Sarah Connor and having sex with her, thereby getting her pregnant and eventually having her give birth to... John Connor.
So think about this for a minute. The man who was sent back from a future that already contains John Connor as the leader of the human resistance ending up fathering John Connor? This... makes no sense. It's like a neuron-frying loopty-loop.
But it doesn't stop there, because there was a sequel. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it is revealed that the parts left behind from the FIRST Terminator robot (that was crushed at the end of the first movie in a computer factory) were the basis for the creation of Skynet, the company whose machines ended up starting the war!
Now lemme get this straight... How could there possibly be a Skynet already in existence and a FIRST Terminator sent back through time if Skynet wasn't actually built until the crushed remnants of said first Terminator were discovered by Miles Dyson, the founder of Skynet?? AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!
See what I mean?? While I could possibly allow the explanation that the whole John Connor/Dad problem was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy/destiny thing in that ANY child Sarah Connor had could have eventually become the leader of the human resistance, that second one is King Brain Titty-Twister right there. And yet... it's the backbone of the entire story, really! It is all based on one giant, mindfucking paradox!
Now, because I didn't see Terminator 3, I can't offer much more on this. Maybe it attempted to explain this. I'd love it if someone filled me in.
Why do we do this to ourselves, though? Not just create paradoxes, but then proceed to torture ourselves with them? There are untold millions of debates on these topics (and a myriad of others with similar components) to be found on the internet. We get all wrapped-up in them as if being able to explain these little anomalies in story-telling gets us that much closer to understanding the nature of the universe. It's fascinating, really.
Okay, I'll speak for myself here. I do this. Frequently. I love dissecting a fat, juicy paradox, and I also hate it. It has a way of removing me from the story, because it interferes with my suspension of disbelief. I don't want to think about the characters anymore because my brain is too busy trying to examine the sub-structure of the plot. I just want to be ignorant and take it for what it is, but I can never do that. Ever. Even if I LIKE a movie and find it entertaining, I have to perform an autopsy on it. With The Terminator, though, I feel particularly bothered by it because the whole time I'm like:
"You didn't HAVE to do it this way! You could have already had Sarah Connor pregnant by some other dude! Or you could have already had Skynet in existence before the first Terminator came through, thus eliminating these distracting paradoxes! Why did you do it this way, you fuckers? You must want to make my head hurt on purpose!"
I'll get into Back to the Future later (particularly the sequels). I need some Excedrin.