The Cable Guy

I know that I have missed out on a few FNAMBC, and I apologize. Life has gotten the best of me. I was planning on doing only "Holiday" movies during December, but decided to skip that and just save my favorite Christmas movie for the FNAMBC closer to Christmas. Today, I am talking about the 1996 Masterpiece The Cable Guy. Now a days it's fairly common for a comedian to branch out and do something a little different, or a little more serious, but in 96, this was shocking move for Jim Carey and it led to some pretty bad reception (no pun intended).

A one liner of the film is "Matthew Broderick breaks up with his girlfriend, and he becomes friends with the cable guy (Jim Carey)", but just like every other movie, there is so much more to it than that. What I believe this film is making a statement about is the infiltration of cable television culture into our every day lives and how it affects our relationships. If we look at Jim Carey (the cable guy) as the institution of cable TV, we can draw exact parallels between the characters in the film and our relationship with cable. I think this whole idea can be boiled down to two scenes.

1) The karaoke party scene, when Jim Carey & Jack Black get into an argument over Steven's (Broderick's) friendship. It is my theory that Jack Black is arguing as "Human Interaction" and Jim Carey is arguing as "Cable TV". Jack Black is a single Person, offering only one channel of friendship (cheesy, I know), and Jim Carey is cable, who brought a bunch of people to the party, and clearly, with dozens of choices (channels), cable wins. It culminates in Jim Carey saying to Jack Black "He's changing. Get Used to it". This could be viewed as a statement about Steven (Broderick), but I think it's more of a statement about society as a whole. Collectively we are moving away from our need/desire to interact with one another, and are becoming perfectly complacent with artificial relationships that are streamed directly into our living room.

2) The second scene is when Jim Carey visits Steven while he's in jail and says "I can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. You seem to prefer the latter. I'm just here to comfort you" ... what is television other than a distraction from the real world, a comforting device in your life. Let's back up. At this point in the film, the majority of Steven's friends & family have taken a liking to The Cable Guy, and Steven is the only one who sees him for the truly manipulative person he is. Therefore, Steven is the only one fighting the integration of cable and everyone views Steven as a lunatic. By not blindly accepting the mind numbing push of Cable Television, Steven has become an outcast (cable becoming his worst enemy). If he were to just accept cable into his life, he would fit in, get along with his friends and family, and live a happily mindless life. It is not rare nowadays for people to think you're insane if you don't have cable, and this film forecasted that. 

There are multiple other scenes that can be used in this analysis. The scene when everyone is at Steven's Parents house and the cable guy recommends playing "Porno Password". This can be looked at as the increasing desensitization towards sexuality led by cable TV. And the final scene at the satellite dish really drives the theme of this movie home. It's about understanding your relationship with cable TV & understanding the long term effect that cable television can have on us.

At first, we were uncertain of cable TV. Sure, it offered us a lot of options, but there was a lot of garbage on there as well. Over time we began to adopt the medium, and actually began to love it and rely on it. Cable television has become so integrated into our society that is not uncommon for someone to watch 3-4 hours of TV a day. Sure this film came out almost 20 years ago, but the message is just as relevant (if not more) today as it was 20 years ago. 

I highly recommend this film! It's in my top 5 favorite films of all time, and it may even be my favorite Jim Carey role! Check it out!

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