Twenty-some years ago, on The Tonight Show (when Johnny was still hosting), comedian Bill Maher did a few minutes of insightful political humor, and then stopped and added this joke: “Ahhh, who am I to think I can change the world? I mean, I’m no folk singer.”
There was more to that joke than a good laugh at uber-serious guys and gals with acoustic guitars who could use a shower.
Contrary to the idea that laughing at someone or something can diminish their/its power, I think that when we laugh at something it lessens our charge about the issue. I think the more we laugh about it the more we dismiss it as unimportant.
Which is why Mike Myers (yes, “Austin Powers” Mike Myers) is the root of all evil.
Mike’s upcoming movie is The Love Guru where he plays an American boy who was raised by gurus in India (similar to being raised by wolves in Alaska, but with better food and more dirt), and then “comes back to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality” as Guru Pitka.
The good news is that his motives are, at least, transparent and honest, unlike many of those whose footsteps he follows.
The better news is that if the movie is half as funny as the material they’ve put out to advertise the movie, it’ll be HYSTERICAL.
And now you might be getting the hint about why, once again, Mike Myers is the root of all evil.
By getting everyone to laugh at the techniques that “gurus” (self-help, spiritual and business) have used for decades to help us become detached from our
egos wallets, in the name of some nebulous thing called “growth,” we may become even LESS critical of people who make untenable promises of “personal advancement” with the help of meaningless acronyms (e.g. they say “fear” = false evidence appearing real… but I think should be: “F*%k! ‘ere are rattlesnakes!”) and dopey aphorisms turned into playing cards, screen savers, and needlepoint wall hangings (Like: “Enjoy the journey and not the goal”… something you would only think to tell yourself if you’re having a crappy trip and aren’t near a rest stop, let alone Disney World).
So, even with Guru Pitka’s melodious voice (which is a better Deepak Chopra impression than Deepak Chopra does!), and his more useful teachings (rather than Sanskrit, his mantra is Hungarian: Mariska Hargitay, which, if you repeat it often enough will land you a part in an NBC crime drama), he may help make New Age nonsense seem even more meaningful!
In fact, I’m willing to bet, right now, that after this movie comes out, the average “spiritual” reviewer will completely miss that Myers is skewering the self-help and spiritual biz and, instead, they’ll say things like, “Not only is Mike Myers funny, but he’s teaching the TRUTH!” Non-dual fans will drool over themselves (wait, have we just discovered a new teaching — non-drool-ism?) with the idea that Guru Pitka is introducing Ramana Maharshi’s “Who am I?” teaching to a whole new generation!
There could, though, be a silver-ish lining to the (hopeful-if-hysterical) popularity of The Love Guru. Let me explain:
Back when I would host comedy shows, I would sometimes open the show by doing every “hack” old joke I could think of (e.g. Here’s one that was told in Vaudeville houses and still shows up in comedy clubs: A bear and a rabbit are taking a dump in the woods. The bear asks the rabbit, “Hey, rabbit, do you have trouble with poo sticking to your fur?” “Never,” answers the rabbit. So the bear wipes his butt with the rabbit).
I’d do this to punish the comics who would come on later and who relied on these old jokes rather than writing their own material. They’d tell the joke and instead of a laugh, they’d have the entire audience just staring at them, wondering why the guy was stealing material from the host (full disclosure: I stopped doing this technique because I didn’t want anyone who didn’t understand satire to think *I* was just another hack comic who relied on 80 year-old material).
Well, Guru Pitka seems to be a walking Best Of… Old Trite Spiritual Teaching Stories. He has more “borrowed” material than the Chicken Soup books (which, btw, are ALL borrowed material). If we’re lucky, Pitka/Myers’ telling these stories will force the gang on the self-help circuit to write some new (I’m not too naive to hope for true) stories. But, if the gang proves to be as creative as they have been for 100+ years (did you know that the “teachings” from The Secret came from a book that’s almost 100 years old?), instead we’ll have a gaggle of gurus introducing their stupid stories with, “And as Guru Pitka said in The Love Guru…”
All that said, I can’t wait to see the movie and nothing I said above will stop me from laughing — even at times where I’m the only one, no doubt — and thanks to The Love Guru, my new spiritual practice will be doing prostrations to Justin Timberlake, who is… well, go here to see for yourself.