Friday, February 28, 2014

Sociopaths in media: Collateral


From a reader:
I loved the movie Collateral, starring Tom Cruise as Vincent the hitman and Jamie Foxx as the largely hapless cab driver, particularly this clip. Here’s the set up: Maxx is a cab driver with dreams of owning his own limo service. He’s been driving his taxi for 12 years, telling himself all the while that he is planning and saving money, awaiting the perfect time to start his own business. When Vincent gets into the backseat of his cab, Maxx assumes he’s just another fare. He is of course dead wrong. Vincent forces Maxx to act as his driver, ferrying him to various locations around LA to kill everyone on his to-do list.
In this scene, Vincent and Maxx have just escaped a hectic shoot out at a nightclub. Vincent has killed the 4th of the 5 victims on his hit list and Maxx attempted to escape during the melee with the help of detective Fanning. Just when it seemed as if Maxx and Fanning would make it, Vincent shoots the detective, thinking he was doing Maxx a favor. As you will see, Maxx has an epiphany of sorts after being confronted with Vincent’s harsh but truthful views.

I really liked this movie. The performances were terrific. Contrasting Fox’s passive everyman with Cruise’s uber disciplined sociopath made for a thematically interesting dynamic. The scene was, in a nutshell, an insightful look at how sociopaths see empaths better than they see themselves. I wonder though, is Vincent really a sociopath or is his career choice simply an inevitable result of his philosophical nihilism? Not that it matters to any of his victims.

80 comments:

  1. I haven't seen the film but I read the isolated scene as an ode to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy . Sure, Nietzsche was talking about the ancient Greek tradition, but I too see all dramatic "tragedy [as] an art form that transcend[s] the pessimism and nihilism of a fundamentally meaningless world."

    Personally I liked this modern interpretation of "turning thoughts of disgust at the horror and absurdity of existence into imaginary constructs which permit living to continue."

    To my mind there were also traces of Sartre’s Being or Nothingness in it: "Man’s existence is absurd because his contingency finds no external justification. His projects are absurd because they are directed toward an unattainable goal ('the desire to become God' [Vincent] or to be simultaneously the free For-itself and the absolute In-itself [Maxx]."

    As for Vincent being a sociopath or not, I can't say, although it certainly heightens the drama of the film to believe so. But would an existentialist empath view a non-existential empath similarly? I think so, but they would most likely see it as cruel and unnecessary to tell them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did enjoy the movie a while back. I couldn't tell you why, but it was rather surprising when Max diagnosed his fare lol. It's a bit tough to go against the grain on this one but I can't count Fox as an "every man" as you do, and it's too easy to accept Vincent as a sociopath. Fox's character seems just as detached as Vincent, hence the whole injection of the "fate" mumbles in the script. I see them a bit more as diametrically opposed although there's much light left from that on the big screen. Look at how well they work together? Look at the changes in Max not because of the world, not because of manipulation, but only because of Vincent's short presence in his boring life?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I imagine being in that line of work would deaden your responses to certain situations, but on the flip side, you have to have a certain predisposition in order to be drawn to, and accept unconditionally that line of work to begin with.

    Being predisposed with less empathy towards a victim, seeing them as nothing more than a target, not a person probably needs to be already instilled in a person. The repetition of the act though probably makes each subsequent hit all the more easy. Densitizing the hitman to the next target, and the next, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Psychopaths have a superiority complex, we think that everything will work out in every situation, we are great.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I could agree with that Nyx, but if I were going to branch out too I would argue that one could simply possess empathy and have a disconnect making them disregard it for the most part and see human targets as "friendly people" with everything worth being alive inside and always fail at the caring part.

    Of course the stigma implies you HAVE to see everyone as puppets, but I don't ALWAYS see people as puppets. What fun would that be?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have not seen this movie but just this scene shows that Jamie Foxx was able to turn over the situation and gained control over Tom Cruise. He could well have been a dormant sociopath, which I am, waiting for his prince to kiss.

    ReplyDelete
  7. They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street,
    where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
    neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
    day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
    I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to
    look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
    to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
    and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
    kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
    me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."

    And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
    wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
    guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
    KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and
    he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
    yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
    sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Anon (5:51)... I can certainly see that. I often 'turn off' or simply lose my empathy for people at times. Especially if I have no prior attachment to them. I'm not sure that directly translates into being able to just off them though. But that might just be my own personal morality concering mortality coming into play.

    ReplyDelete
  9. this discussion is going quite slow. it's time to start the funny bit.

    How could Dexter make us laugh in that time period between wrapping the victim and dumping in the ocean?

    He could 'say' list:
    1. Just the cheek (Medusa?)
    2. Stop shivering. I was out of thermal wrap (UKan?)
    3. What was I gonna do? (TNP?)
    4. This is the last time we meet like this (ME?)
    5. You'll always hold a special place in my box (notme?)



    He could 'do' list

    1. One last tap on the genitals

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dormant, you could be somewhat right too, but you're implying a sociopath is invincible and could NEVER lose control except for another socio...

    I don't discredit any of you at all, don't get me wrong, I am merely implying that most of these thoughts exist inside a box. You could add so much more to them!

    ReplyDelete
  11. "How could Dexter make us laugh in that time period between wrapping the victim and dumping in the ocean?"

    He could rape them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dexter is a faggot, i would respect him more if he killed little girls. Any real life serial killer pwnz him.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Did you hear about the guy who started calling himself the 'Crossbow Cannibal'. He killed three prostitutes and got caught. Aren't you supposed to be elusive and fear-inducing to earn yourself a serial killer nickname, having to name yourself is kinda lame. And not so scary.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think he was doing that for attention, good or bad he needed it, three kills is weak.

    ReplyDelete
  15. How silly is this. You think that him being a sociopath would heighten the drama, when he's a goddamn hitman. It should be the other way around, dear. At that point in someone's life, it doesn't matter if they're a sociopath or not.

    I remember watching this movie when it came out. Thought it was decent, but not a special snowflake. Different strokes, I guess.

    Personally I hate it when the "bad guy" always seems to get fucked over in the end, especially the sympathetic ones. Not with all movies, just 99% of them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. anon 9:21 said
    Dormant, you could be somewhat right too, but you're implying a sociopath is invincible and could NEVER lose control except for another socio...

    Actually no such implication is suggested from what I'm talking about. All that is implied is one socio exposure has the possibility to wake up a dormant socio. I've met five and I am still not awake. I need UKan to wake up.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That's what I thought! Just need someone in the media to say, 'Three hookers and you got caught? It's not exactly impressive now is it darlin?'
    Genius needs an audience, but he was no genius.

    ReplyDelete
  18. He was an ugly bastard and a recluse, the best serial killers are always good looking and socially adapted.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "just this scene shows that Jamie Foxx was able to turn over the situation and gained control over Tom Cruise. He could well have been a dormant sociopath, which I am, waiting for his prince to kiss."

    His character was just fighting for survival, the same as anyone would in that situation. You sound like an idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I need a new pet... And I just realised I use this site like a chat room. Ah well.

    ReplyDelete
  21. haha love the cannibal troll idea :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. You're welcome, NTP.

    Some of us are well-educated in rewriting the narrative in a way others (e.g. Medusa) are unable to see.

    Let me try again: When forced to drive around a car at a socio's gun point causing a well-calculated car accident is the only thing in your control. The beauty of it is that the socio who threatens to shoot is only bull-shitting, for his ass is not driving that car.

    ReplyDelete
  23. '5. You'll always hold a special place in my box (notme?)'

    wait, am i dead now?
    Still, I'm honoured.

    ReplyDelete
  24. how can you be a dormant sociopath? If you're waiting to become one i'd hazard a guess you aren't one. Just saying.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The cheese-tastic, spoiler filled ending:

    Max angrily speeds through the empty downtown streets and deliberately crashes the cab. Vincent takes off on foot before a responding police officer arrives at the wreck and notices the corpse in the trunk.

    Max spots Annie's profile on the cab computer and, realizing she's Vincent's final target, overpowers the officer and takes his gun. He sprints to Annie's building and arrives at her office to prevent the assassination by sufficiently wounding Vincent enough for them to escape. Max flees with Annie, boarding a metro rail train with Vincent in close pursuit. Boxed in and left with no other option, Max makes his last stand; capriciously asserting himself to protect Annie. He miraculously remains unharmed while mortally wounding Vincent in a face-to-face shootout. Vincent slumps into a seat and expires as he reiterates an anecdote of "a man that rode the metro rail train for six hours before anyone noticed he was dead." Max and Annie get off at the next station, leaving Vincent's body on the train as it continues on in the breaking dawn of the new day.

    ReplyDelete
  27. See, max kicks ass, I knew without even seeing the movie. Don't awake the dormant sociopath...

    ReplyDelete
  28. You are so right, it's not even funny.

    ReplyDelete
  29. i'm laughing. how, romantic.

    I especially love those 'profound' last words they get dying characters to say. I'd be busy saying, 'fuck this hurts.'

    it's so true Note, the bad guy hardly ever walks free at the end.
    hahaha, i wonder why.~

    ReplyDelete
  30. lol, i just remembered another tom cruise movie, the last samurai. I remember laughing my head off. So absurd.

    ReplyDelete
  31. LOVE! PEACE! JUSTICE! Evil shall always gets it's comeuppance!... I guess that would mean all us socios would be pretty much screwed in the movie world... But then we always seem to be the ones having the most fun.

    ReplyDelete
  32. which bit is fantasy?
    the comeuppance bit or the having most fun bit?

    ReplyDelete
  33. I assumed you meant the comeuppance bit...

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am murderously angry, someone better not look at me wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Perhaps nobody wants to look at you at all.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "I am murderously angry"

    JOIN THE FUCKING CLUB!! AAAAAGHHHH!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Good always triumphing over evil. I'm not saying it's the polar opposite, but that's definitely not how it works.

    Just further complicate it by moral ambiguity, as it's usually not so black and white.

    ReplyDelete
  38. speaking of dormant sociopaths, moral ambiguity, and elegant detachments: L'Avventura, 1960

    When Anna, Sandro's fiancée, goes missing from a desolate island during a vacation cruise, it takes Sandro less than a day to put the moves on Claudia (Vitti), Anna's best friend. It takes her less than three days to respond, and less than a week to fall into his arms. The search for Anna from then on is just their cover, as they recreate a new fantasy for themselves, where the other is an interchangeable player filling an idealized role: all style and no substance. At some point we learn that Sandro had studied to be an architect, but instead became a successful businessman. That he is creatively and personally unfulfilled is shown when he spitefully spills an inkwell on the drawings of a young architect he encounters making drawings outside his hotel. The film cumulatively creates a mood of elegant detachment, and in this case, the mood is the message.

    ReplyDelete
  39. notme, kiss me:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15311hr5HRo

    ReplyDelete
  40. depends what you look like and if you're male. very male. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Very male? What do you want? More than the guy kissing Vitti in the clip?

    ReplyDelete
  42. he's alright, a bit mature for me. However, i could try one out for size i suppose...mature may be what i need...ooh golly, am i growing up?!

    so what's your type then?

    ReplyDelete
  43. blue highlighted notme.. i'll go slap the monkey. sleepy.

    ReplyDelete
  44. i know who you are and you're not male. Nice try though ;)

    night. I'll go blue tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Dont' forget you're not supposed to self diagnois!! That goes on too much around here!

    99% of you just sound like jerks, not spaths (sorry, I used the word jerks because I'm sure you're probably tired of being called assholes) and you are relating events that probably happened 30 years ago.

    A spath wouldn't sit here and blog, too boring.

    I've got to get a googl account. I want a name.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I agree with anun

    ReplyDelete
  47. User no. 1 - "I am murderously angry, someone better not look at me wrong."

    User no. 2 - "Perhaps nobody wants to look at you at all."

    Ahahahaha! This really made my day :-)))

    BTW, Collateral is a splendid movie. I love it. And at times, it is very philosophical. THIS scene is fucking awesome. I am always reminding its word when I start to be lazy about my life "goal".

    Vincent: "Someday? Someday my dream will come? One night you will wake up and discover it never happened. It's all turned around on you. It never will. Suddenly you are old. Didn't happen, and it never will, because you were never going to do it anyway. You'll push it into memory and then zone out in your barco lounger, being hypnotized by daytime TV for the rest of your life. Don't you talk to me about murder."

    SO FUCKING TRUE!

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think Vincent and Max were similar characters. When they first met, Vincent identified Max as someone who does while also identifying himself in that way too. Vincent was definitely sociopathic in that movie but I think his encounter with Max affected him equally as much as Max was affected by Vincent. Vincent already had a withdrawn view of the world and the people in it; made necessary by his profession. Max, who Vincent identified with, forced Vincent to actually think about what he does; which I'm sure Vincent hadn't done in a long time.

    It is hard to speculate since there is no history on Vincent but I would suspect that Vincent did not have this sociopathic outlook in his younger days. As he got used to the way he made his living, he ended up compromising his principles to make it work. I'd bet that Vincent did not intend to be an assassin all of his life and Max stated he was only doing the cab thing to fund his side project; they had not found that perfect opportunity to do something else. Vincent saw the forgotten moral version of himself in Max and tried to push him to make something of himself.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I'm wondering whether a critical post I read yesterday about
    M.E. could be true.
    Some hollier-then-thou person said that EVERYTHING about
    M.E. was fraudulent. Her claims to be a sociopath. Her book.
    This blog. Her goals in setting up this blog etc..
    If his goal was to undermine M.E. and discourage people from her
    book and this blog, he/she has NOT suceeded.
    You see, I don't care if it IS fraudulent. I happen to enjoy the
    experience of coming here. I don't feel "used" anymore then a person who spends money on any other form of "entertainment"
    does.
    My extensive studies on M.E. tell me that she is unlikely to be a
    sociopath. She might feel tempted to do something
    "dangerous" to prove her status in the "club." I hope she doesn't.
    She should understand that some of us bought her book, and
    come her each day, simply because we are "charmed" by M.E.
    like we are "charmed" by the art and movies she recommends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. M.E. is a cunt.

      Delete
    2. So the diagnosis, with the quoted psychologist, that was not refuted, was a fabrication? As was the verification from the publisher? And Dr. Phil's background team to allow her on the show?

      Maybe your views on sociopaths is in error, not the other way around. Just because the peg is square, doesn't mean you can believe on it hard enough to make it round to fit your hole.

      Delete
    3. There is no diagnosis of "sociopath". I believe she has a diagnosis but has not disclosed it. I believe she published only a small part of her evaluation in her book because evaluations are quite lengthy and it would feasible to include in a book.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    4. The letter she published clearly states a 99% conformity to prototypical ASPD. You will also see, after the letter, that she addresses the clinical interchangeability between ASPD, Psychopathy, and Sociopathy.

      And actually, having received a letter myself regarding ASPD to file away for personal medical records, it can be shorter than you think. Mine is only one paragraph long.

      Delete
  50. Maybe some normal folks do "studies" posing as psychopaths? Almost like in that movie Dear Mr Gacy? They wanna lure real things into their field of vision by acting hollow? But in reality they cry when daft romatic comedies are shown on telly & feel trembling fear when confronted by the mailmans stern recommendation to put up a name-sign above the mailbox..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would actually violate ethical restrictions set forth by the APA and every university because of the financial proceeds of the study (ie. sale of the book).

      People need to stop Googling for the site and not reading the book. The official diagnosis is spelled out in a letter from an independent and reputable psychologist in the very first chapter. Because of this, numerous people are operating without all the facts.

      Delete
    2. Basically, 'ASPD' or 'Psychopathy' will soon become synonymous with 'autism', or else will be relabeled as 'Malicious Autism'.

      Delete
    3. For ASPD perhaps, but not Psychopathy. Malicious is the wrong descriptor. Sociopaths don't function with malice. They function with ambivalence and apathy. It is the penultimate form of naked neutrality - they no more regret helping you than harming you.

      By the way, if you read the latest literature, ASPD and Psychopathy have been separated. They're no longer being the same thing.

      Delete
    4. Basically it means that you're either a nigger or a Jew.

      Standard forms of autism and ASPD.

      Delete
    5. By the way, 'Jewish' is modern slang for 'Canaan'.

      If your read the latest non-mainstream, non-bullshit non-fantasy form of suppressed literature.

      Delete
  51. How come ME gets fewer comments now that her book is out than before? ME stop reposting old stuff from the "good ol' days" and get us new stuff if you want to keep this blog alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coming up with novel material everyday would be impractical, due to the time and effort required. She has a life to live, just like you do. It can be more time-consuming and effortful than you might think.

      Besides, the older material can have current relevancy in what was thought about at the time. It provides a way to rediscover a topic that had otherwise laid dormant for years, allowing for new ideas on old subjects.

      Delete
  52. Bob (In reply to yesterday @ 12:55),

    I agree that personality disorders are highly misunderstood. Part of that misunderstanding, especially on this blog, is that lack of empathy is only specifically listed as a criteria for one of nine personality disorders; Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). And of the nine possible criteria at least five need to be meet for a diagnosis. This means that you could have empathy and still be diagnosed with NPD. But I also believe that the "lack of remorse" criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder speaks to lack of empathy.

    The general overview of personality disorders are "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible...". Lack of empathy may or may not be the inflexible criteria (rigidity) of someone with NPD. It could be that one (or more) of the other criteria (a grandiose sense of self-importance, arrogance, sense of entitlement, etc.) are the inflexible or rigid aspects that must be present in order for a diagnosis to be met.

    I agree with you; just because someone isn't a race car driver doesn't mean they don't know what NASCAR is and it certainly doesn't stop some guys from acting like race car drivers. (Wink)

    MelissaR

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now you've seen the issues with DSM. While the current gold-standard, the overlaps and contradictions are problems. ASPD and Psychopathy are recognized unofficially be reputable psychologist as separate, but in the DSM it's all melded together.

      An important note, regarding the DSM committee that revises the editions. Approximately half of the members work for pharmaceutical companies, while some of the other half receive research grants from them. There has been widespread criticism of the conflict of interest and monetized incentives which have formed the DSM, and how its development is tied to it. While any official diagnosis remotely relating to Psychopathy/Sociopathy is tied to ASPD as described by the DSM, the reality is more diverse than they allow for it. I have heard criticism from respectable and experienced psychologist who think the DSM-5 is not only worse than previous editions, but actually scientifically unsound.

      Here is a link to a reputable third-party source as reference to the issues with DSM. He is, I should note, the former chair of the DSM-IV task force.

      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201212/dsm-5-is-guide-not-bible-ignore-its-ten-worst-changes

      Delete
    2. It's always all about money.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    3. It should be noted that this phenomenon is less pronounced in european countries. Considering the DSM is a strictly american construction, there is a marked difference as to various disorders overseas. For example, the number of diagnoses of Dissociative Identity Disorder (ie. multiple personality) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD) are significantly less in Europe in comparison to North America. In fact, there is dispute as to the accuracy and existence of both disorders. Many psychologists overseas hold significant doubts as to their very definitions.

      Delete
  53. For a long time I wondered if I had just become a nihilist. In a lot of ways I am. But I don't think that explains my past patterns of behavior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends. You would have to systematically look at your past from a clinically detached point if view. If you don't, you risk molding the data into fitting the model you want. Even unintentionally. If you can't get yourself to be fully detached from looking back through every event, it may be favorable to have a third-party who you can trust to do it for you. Self-diagnosis is very easy to slip sideways.

      Delete
    2. I feel like I can be relatively detached about myself, but I know I'm not qualified to diagnose myself. I wish there was a way to be diagnosed anonymously. I would like to know where I stand, but I don't want potentially damaging medical records following me around.

      I feel like nihilism is about denying meaning in life. I don't feel like my life has meaning in any grand sense, but my life is obviously important to me. I think apathy and nihilism aren't the same thing.

      Delete
    3. Doctor-patient confidentiality laws protect against unauthorized disclosure. You choose whether the information is released, or not at all.

      As for meaning if life, it is built by you. You choose what matters and you make the meaning for yourself. Idealistic altruism or selfish materialism, it doesn't matter. You choose the proverbial house to live in.

      Delete
    4. There are certain situations in which that information is legally required to be disclosed, both by the doctor and by the patient.

      It's a funny kind of dilemma; I feel like I'm on the cusp of an interesting revelation about myself, on the other hand I don't really feel like the diagnosis matters that much. What do you do with that information? Is knowing with certainty more of a liability than it is worth?

      I'm definitely a materialist. I don't find any meaning in that, but there is a kind of purpose.

      Delete
    5. Those situations are only warranted in the event that you are at significant risk of harming yourself or someone else. The other cases would be during a criminal investigation, which would require a warrant and cause.

      There are pros and cons. Pros in that you have a professional third-party assessing you from the outside as verification, while the cons are the situations mentioned above. I should note that people have self-diagnosed themselves as sociopaths, but were in fact not. Remember, the probably of being a sociopath is between 1-4% (depending on which study you follow).

      Delete
    6. I think you may be looking at it from the standpoint of a doctor. My concern is that there are some situations where I, individually, would be expected to disclose mental health treatment. Just a few examples that come to mind: licensing boards doing character and fitness reviews, undergoing a federal security clearance, or applying for a military commission. I'm sure there are other circumstances that don't come to mind in which an individual might be asked to disclose such information. Even if the diagnosis doesn't prohibit whatever certification or employment you seek, there is still a paper trail.

      I'm also a little unclear about whether the diagnosis of a personality disorder would have to be reported to NICS.

      Delete

Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.