Monday, August 27, 2007

FTO 1/3: Future Time Orientation in Oldboy (Korea, 2003)

Oldboy depicts a man with short FTO right from the first scene. In this scene, he's drunk in a police jail, noisy, impatient, resisting his chums and police, a disgusting and unempathic anti-hero. This image is strenghtened in later scenes.

The film also shows the strength of short FTO - namely, ability to make the best out of every situation. This is especially visible in his popularity with women. The film shows two successful seductions and hints at much more. (That bring this post by Bulletproof Pimp into my mind. In both Oldboy and this post, physical fitness was the only factor where the men showed long-termism.)

There are also two few scenes where long-term approaches turn out to be useless. The first of them happens at the imprisonment period, but I won't spoil it. The second happens some hours after the main character has been released. He faints and wakes up again. He utters a scientific-sounding hypothesis that lack of vitamin D and sudden sunlight made him faint. His girl answers "I hope you don't always talk like that." In the end, the hypothesis turns out to be false. Reliance to scientific explanations, a long-term strategy, turned out to make him unpopular and misguided.

The short-termist philosphy of life is also pronounced explicitly. In one scene, a gangster boss takes a tooth out of the protagonists mouth as a revenge. Then the gangster puts the pliers close the his mouth as if planning to pull another teeth. The protagonist shouts, expecting pain. At that point the gangster takes the pliers away and says "Don't imagine. You fear because you imagine what might happen. Don't imagine, so you don't fear."

The ending reflects well the main character's revulsion towards long-termism. The most important causes and consequences of the plot turn out to be arbitary and unbelievable. Things are not really explained in the end; they are messed up in the end. And in the eye of the madness, the short-term tactician wins over the long-term manipulator.

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