The Role of Humor in Adaptation
In Anne Dalke’s discussion section, we discussed the role of humor in Adaptation and in evolution as a whole. We started off with the idea that maybe Adaptation is telling us that humor is key in evolution because it makes us more resilient. Charlie Kaufman is depicted as anxiety-ridden, miserable, constantly suffering from an existential crisis, and unsuccessful. He is obsessed with creating the perfect movie and drives himself nuts with it. Donald Kaufman is depicted as a much more carefree, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants guy, and (ironically?) it is his ridiculous screenplay that is successful. Perhaps it is Donald’s humor that helps him be so much happier and more resilient than his brother.
On the whole, Adaptation can also be read as a parody, which we also discussed. It is self-referential and shows how absurd the world and “rules” of moviemaking can be. Some of us found that the film was closing down possibilities, and saying that certain types of stories can’t or shouldn’t be told through film, whereas other classmates thought that it opened up possibilities. Putting Adaptation in conversation with Richard Powers’ Generosity, is film the medium of the future? Does the self-referential film we watched give us the same feeling as did our self-referential novel, or did they have vastly different effects?