Recently, I watched Mike Leigh’s film, Naked. It was an excellent demonstration of Sartre’s philosophy of living an authentic existence versus living in bad faith. Also, it illuminated our ability to make right or wrong choices.
Are we, as individuals, able to choose? Who, or what, is in control of you?
Who is in charge? You must decide that you do have a choice, you do have free will, if you fear this decision you will lose any free will that you had!
To begin, I think we need to define the two terms:
Authentic Living—one must take responsibility for the actions one chooses. One must not lean on preset rules and objective norms.
Living in Bad Faith—failing to recognize the many choices that are available. Bad faith is the habit people have of deceiving themselves into thinking that they do NOT have the freedom of choice. They fear the consequences of making a choice. So they fear choice, which is a choice in itself.
Naked is a raw movie, where people are stripped of their protective layer of civility and compassion. The three male characters refuse to face facts and make good choices. With pressure from society’s rules and norms, they adopt false values and disown their freedom. They don’t take responsibility for their actions.
The story is how these male characters interact with the women in the tale.
There is Johnny, the sociopath, Jeremy, the violent class conscious person and Brian, the night-watchman, who is a voyeur. They all live lives full of bad faith. They are all misogynists.
Johnny is a person with a personality disorder which manifests itself in antisocial attitudes and behaviors. He never tries to get himself out of being an educated derelict. He is naked in the sense that he has nothing of material value and he has lost his identity and security.
Jeremy believes his high social class gives him the right to be dominate over others. He is violent toward women and he takes but doesn’t give. He believes he is very masculine, which is his essential role. His personality is expressed through his massive consumption of objects, cars and luxuries.
Brian is a security guard, he guards the building at night for the daytime people. To him, he guards nothing. He has no sense of identity. He watches other people with no interaction with them. He feels he has no freedom of choice and denies any responsibility in his world.
The male characters in Naked, are all caught in bad faith, they deny their freedom of choice or try to avoid it.
In conclusion, we must choose to act and take responsibility for those actions. We must make sense of our lives. This is living authentically. We cannot feel that we are victims of fate, or mysterious forces within us, or of heredity, or pressure from society, for all this is to be living in bad faith.
The end result of your existence here on earth will be the total of the choices you made while you were here.
Also published on Medium.