Ah…happiness. What does it mean to you? What makes you happy? If you’re like me, that answer has changed over the years (I’m 50 now, y’all!). But for the majority of people in modern society, happiness is (sadly) tied to money and material things. To make things WORSE, the mere pursuit of happiness can cause so much misery that it makes the climb up to happiness even harder.
Bitter irony. Painful irony. And often…tragic irony. British artist and animator Steve Cutts examines the “rat race” in a short video titled “Happiness.”
[…] a clearly depressed, overcrowded society surrounded by ads guaranteeing happiness via cologne, clothes, film, and drugs. You may watch this and recognize these behaviours in others, but consider whether you have fallen victim to them as well. “Feeling down? Nothing a glass of red wine won’t fix.” When we search for happiness in external things, we soon have a real problem that nothing material or external can fix. See, all that is ever offered to us are ‘quick fixes’ to problems that have been festering for years. Steve accurately portrays our need for feeling happy and shows we will do and buy practically anything to ensure we can feel that emotion all the time — a futile struggle that leaves us depleted and miserable. (via)
I was in my mid-40s before I realized that my own pursuit of happiness/success had led me to exhaustion. To be fair, it was survival, too; I was a single mom of two kids for most of my parenting life. Happiness and peace came when I stopped the CrazyTreadmill and slowed my azz down. Though relieved that I found my way out, some people are never able to do that.
Cutts isn’t particularly prolific on social media, doesn’t employ monetization on his YouTube videos, doesn’t charge for access to his work, nor is his merchandise shop very established. Charmingly though, this makes him an optimist’s case study on the point that what matters the most is the work, which continues to grow in both quality and acclaim. A creator of the internet, he has recently taken on notable creative commissions both popular (a highly coveted gig doing a couch gag for The Simpsons) and artistic (his 2017 music video for Moby earned a top prize at Annecy).
It is purposeful irony on my part to discuss economics at the outset of this review, considering the consistent anti-capitalist themes in Cutts’ art dating back all the way to his breakthrough work, 2011’s In the Fall. Happiness is his most full-throated damnation of the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and consumer culture, and is arguably his best work to date. Depicting a literal “rat race”, the film adopts the structure of Cutts’ most popular work, the S/W-featured and 25M+ viewed, Man, to tell a fast-paced linear montage of one rat’s quest for happiness through the tropes and traps of modern society. (via)