Once again, we turn to The Simpsons here, as in one episode Springfield’s resident hippie tells Principal Skinner to SIMPLIFY, MAN! That’s essentially the thrust of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, a minimalist documentary that maximizes lifestyle hectoring. Two ex-Wall Street types travel the country positing that people would be happier with a few cherished possessions instead of an overabundance of indistinguishable things.
That’s called being poor. We’ve known about that for a long time. Thanks.
Of course, being choosy and spendthrift isn’t second nature to people (our creepily hug-obsessed hosts, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn) who made in a month what the authors of this site do in a year, so the fact that such a concept would be revelatory to them, says more about them than it does about us.
Minimalism: The Movie, is basically Minimalism: The Book Tour dragged out over a 90-minute run-time, with Ryan and Joshua touting the benefits of a lean lifestyle to some of the most well-heeled people imaginable (“NPR listeners, now these are our people.”).
One of the touchstones of this minimalism movement is your typical Road to Damascus moment, wherein people claim they were unhappy, threw away their stuff, and became much happier. You hear the same a posteriori reasoning about yoga, gluten-free diets, meditation, etc, etc. But the happiness-stuff-arrow can go the other way too, and the Really Awful Movies team is reluctant to part with any of its hundreds of Blu-rays/DVDs (naturally, an over-abundance of books isn’t cited as a bad thing by the doc hosts-cum-authors).
Talking heads (a couple of neuro-scientists including Sam Harris and a few sociologists) pontificate loftily about the nature of happiness and how the masses fill the void with consumer goods, absent anyone from the faith community (there’s a slew of evidence to suggest people of faith are happier than the rest of us), which is a pretty big oversight.
Ironically, the minimalism movement has brought us a veritable cottage industry of books: The Joy of Less, Goodbye Things, Stuffocation…it’s odd that you’d need a book to tell you what most people — save a a tiny percentage of aggressive Black Friday rubes — already know: live within your means. And yes, it’s easier said than done. But it’s easier done, when you have amassed a small fortune already, and are hawking a message to a receptive audience with time/$$ to spare.
*1/2 (out of 5)