Birdman’s Existential Crisis — The Infamous “You Don’t Matter” Scene

Do you matter? That’s my question for you today. Why am I writing about such a random topic? Well, I’m going to blame it on “Birdman”. The film just raised too many existential questions in my head. The story follows Riggan, a washed-up Hollywood actor who once played an iconic superhero (Birdman) in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

The film is pretty open to interpretation. Favourite scene? The heated discussion between Riggan and his daughter Sam. This is where Sam confronts him about the play:

Ouch! The end of the scene is utterly heartbreaking. The look on Sam’s face says it all: though, she feels good for giving Riggan a piece of her mind, she also has some regrets about the use of her words. Their father-daughter relationship did not start to deteriorate because of the play. Their problems go way back, it’s hinted in the film that Riggan was probably an absent father. I’m not here to take sides, but Sam kinda has the right to be angry at Riggan. As a father, he was not present during her childhood and he’s still not there for her. It must be frustrating for Sam to see her father putting all of his efforts and attention on something else but his daughter. Hmm, I guess someone is not going to get the “Father of the Year” award…

What Does It Mean To Be Relevant?

So, what does it mean to relevant? I often associate “being relevant” with “success”. But… how can one measure success? Perhaps the question can be compared to our personal clothing choices. I believe most people will accept “having a good taste in clothes” as a compliment but that raises certain questions as well. How can “taste” be rated? To whom are we dressing up for? Is it for ourselves or for other people? Again, the concept is as vague as success. The meaning and value of something is not solely determined by our personal beliefs, the standards that govern our society also have a saying on this matter.


Birdman’s Existential Crisis

Actually, I’m happy for Riggan’s existential crisis. Why? Because it means that he’s living in a “First World” country, where, apparently, living a comfortable life, materialistic wise is not enough. Think about it, if money problems are no longer relevant, what kind of problems do people in these countries struggle with? First World Problems. Please do not underestimate this phenomena: it’s rising and unfortunately it’s making more and more victims. People can’t be blamed for suffering from this “disease”, it’s not a lifestyle choice, everyone is conditioned to get it sooner or later.

I guess ambition is really inherent to the human nature, once we get what we want, the next step will be to want something else. Maybe it’s also part of human nature to complicate things. Having said that, Riggan’s desire to do something that’s meaningful for him is legitimate. Nonetheless, this is bound to be a never ending journey because the things that matter to us tend to change overtime. It would much easier if our needs and priorities stayed the same. If that were true, people would be much happier and in need for less therapy.