In Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter with the desire to abandon his occupation of making the same sterilized movies over and over again in favor of exploring his creative freedom by writing a novel. His determination only grows when he and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents travel to Paris, but instead of harvesting all the beauty of the Lourve, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe as fuel for his novel, Gil complains about the disappointments with today’s world. He begins to proselytize to his fellow travelers about how much better life in 1920s Paris must have been, and on one random night while he’s wandering around Paris and imagining what it used to be like, he finds himself (without giving anything away) in a situation that psychiatrists everywhere would diagnose as indicative of dementia, paranoia, or delusion. This got us thinking about other places where one would be likely to have a mental breakdown.
Nothing would facilitate a psychotic break faster than a visit to Disneyland or Disney World and encountering all your childhood heroes. You’d quickly realize how better off your life would have been if you didn’t waste your time in marveling at characters with droopy ears and falsetto voices and instead, you got up off your ass and developed a useful skill, like a curveball or an update to the Pythagorean theorem. You’d also be surrounded by children who are blissfully unaware of the challenges they will face in their futures, and you’d be disheartened by the choice you have to either end their fun by warning them of life’s hardships, or leaving them alone and prolonging their fun but realizing the pain they’ll eventually feel will be more severe because you didn’t give them any warning as to what was coming. Whatever your choice, you would not emerge the person you thought you were.
The Bodies Exhibit
For those of you who don’t know, the Bodies exhibit allows people to gain insight into the inner workings of the human body by presenting them with actual bodies that have been “meticulously dissected and respectfully displayed.” They been maintained through a process called polymer preservation, which uses liquid silicone rubber and prevents the human tissue from decaying. Some of the halls in the exhibit are quite explicit, like the one that’s full of aborted fetuses at various stages in development. This could easily trust someone into pondering the probability that one of the fetuses in the jars in front of them was their brother or sister because their mother had an illegal abortion behind her high school’s Jiffy-Lube. And looking at your sibling as they’re suspended in formaldehyde is just about enough to do anyone in.
A screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
This classic and highly sexualized movie would make even the most heterosexual or homosexual person question their preferences, and quite possibly send he or she into an abyss of confusion regarding their identity. But besides igniting the question of one’s own sexual preference, a person could also leave the theater with the desire to leave their profession as a doctor or lawyer in favor of someone who does the real magic, which is deriving gold spandex-wearing humans out of pools of goo.
On a cruise
Not even all the shuffleboard in the world would keep someone from considering the likelihood that their vessel could suddenly collide into something in the ocean and sink within four hours, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. James Cameron’s Titanic proved that despite everyone’s best intentions, some things are just unavoidable and if there’s one thing that thrusts the realization of true helplessness into someone’s mind, it’s when you’re on a boat that someone else is steering and the only things you see for miles are skinny pelicans and sea foam.
In a pet store
Pet stores are places of judgment. With all the puppies and kitties in the windows who are prancing around and playing with each other enthusiastically, it’s like they know they’re being watched and heavily scrutinized by people because they need determine which one of the animals has a personality that would blend in best with their families. So of course the puppies and kitties are going to ham it up for their audiences, since they’re all getting really sick of the cramped in boxes and would very much like to have their own L.L. Bean dog (or kitty) bed that’s engraved in red thread with their names. This process of analysis and inspection that exists in pet stores everywhere are dangerous for those who are slightly more sensitive towards criticism, because it just reinforces the idea that no matter where you go or what you do, people are always going to work hard to try and pinpoint your weaknesses so they can either exploit you or label you as being insufficient.