For you reading at home, Point Break, the first modern action movie, was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and in 1991 released a week before her then-husband James Cameron’s little indie flick Terminator 2. Soon after, Jim left Kathy for one of the big stars of his movie. Few doubted that he chose between his stars wisely.
I heard that tidbit about the timing while listening to another podcast about Point Break. In this one I caught the hosts missing an obvious one in their discussion of what dates it: 1992 being pre-internet as we know it (and we felt fine. People forget that) the movie contains an unintended reminder of its era in the negative space around Swayze’s Bodhi when he introduce’s Keanu’s Johnny Utah, Ohio State Buckeyes, all conference. Johnny is a celebrity, known by all, a figure of some repute. Yet Bodhi is the only one to recognize him–probably a hint toward both their fateful connection and Bodhi’s omniscience.
The point is, immediately after that it’s all surf and sky: no scene of Bodhi bent over a computer, or having a compadre yagooglebinging all of famous college football hero Johnny Utah’s available data.
I’m not saying this movie couldn’t be made today, it would just be a very different movie. That made me sad, so to distract myself I thought about a Johnny Utah of the now, a real life soldier of the modern state with a history of public reputation. This Johnny Utah, circa.2016 or 19 or whatever it is, has a trail, a footprint, a space carved out in both kinds of human consciousness: our own head minds, and the vast series of tubes containing the electronic and magnetic bulk of recordable human experience. As for Johnny, for starters he’s got wikipages.
The unnamed agency employing him would have no choice but to alter publicly available information, to keep the very likes of Bodhi (though let’s be honest, there is no one like Bodhi. No. one) from discovering that Johnny Utah’s whereabouts become less known right after that FBI recruiter was around.
This, I’m asuuuuming, is a Constitutionally approved reason to lie to the public. Because you can bet for shore the surface of personas of valuable celebrated personnel in positions under powerful influence have to be and are controlled. Assuming it even happens…BUT assuming it does and is, any agency worth its omnipotency would have a department dedicated to controlling the appearances of its illustrious serial numbers, aka agents. Signing up would mean basically half of your existence would no longer have anything to do with you.
Johnny might not even know what “he”, “himself” is up to these days. If there’s enough interest, a community paying attention, for all Johnny knows someone is communing with his fans as him, writing his history as it happens without him. Who then is the real Johnny, is the real question. Or is it? The answer, is no. Or is it? What does no mean? and what’s your definition of mean etc and etc. What I’m trying to say is, Johnny knows he’s Johnny. He can’t think about all this other shit, distract himself with freakydeaky quantum string spooky philosophy. He is an eff! Bee! Eye! agent!
That’s what makes him real, what tips the 50/50 scales out of favor of internet existence. Sure, no one’s denying it, that shit’s real, to a point. Sometimes it even proves more real THAN real, get yervuk’ned around that. But that’s mostly in legal and political and professional and personal situations. Sure, those things are real, I don’t mean to diminish them. But they are second hand real. They belong to somebody else. They are someone’s idea of Johnny, the only one who’s Johnny, and that’s a position that will always be flawed (with one exception:
It’s widely enough accepted that I’m not talking out of school to remind the home reader we don’t know ourselves very well. We’re definitely getting better at it, from a hundred years ago. You can plot history in terms of how well we know ourselves, that’d be interesting. Probably peak in ’68 and the first half of ’69, but I predict a graph of constant improvement. Still, it’s regarded impossible for one to fully know oneself, because part of oneself is how others perceive one. One doesn’t exist in isolation, not really, even if one does it. So what? So logically, for one to be fully percieved, one requires a partner so close as to know oneself as much as one, but in addition to have the perception… Even with all that, still sadly not a full picture, but paradoxically more full for the observer than the seeker of self-knowledge.)
Because only Johnny has always been Johnny. He’s the common thread holding Johnny together. Bad luck and misfortune can define a reputation, and that stinks, no doubt. But what has to count is who we know we are, down deep and throughout. This has been a very special episode.