1999 Indie “Annihilation of Fish” Chronicles Love, Tolerance, and the Big Demon of Mental Illness

admin, 18 August 2016, No comments
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

David Foster Wallace joking compared everyone in the audience to fish in his 2008 commencement speech, published shortly after his death. He said, “this is water.” We are surrounded by water, so we must be tolerant of it. Yet, we seem to constantly complain about our situation, our friends, the people we see running red lights, committing crimes, driving over-sized hummers to make up for their bloated egos, and etc.

Perhaps people should be more tolerant of their standing in the world, and especially those around them. Annihilation of Fish is a deceptively clever indie flick from 1999 that spoke on these same ideas. Where is the tolerance? If culture consists of millions of fish cohabiting, why is the insistence on complaining and adorning so strong?

Annihilation of Fish came out roughly 15 years ago, and yet these principles of love and tolerance still stand today. Simply look at the controversy surrounding the recent legalization of gay marriage. The target has changed. The ideals have not.

The aforementioned fish in the title is not a swimming little creature at all, but a Jamaican widower with a feeling of lost abandon- quite literally. He is in a mental institution, and his nemesis is a man who may or may not be real. Hank is the embodiment of Fish’s dreams and fears and grim tolerance for the world. Appropriately, Hank has no tolerance for anything, even if it hardly touches him directly.

The film takes new form once Fish is released from the institution and from the grip of the infamous and potentially demonic Hank. She moves into a triplex where the viewers are introduced to a host if bizarre fish- or characters. Viewers meet the abused housewife, Poinsettia, and she sparks a relationship with the confused and scared Fish.

Annihilation of Fish asks the question, why is love so persistent? Why can’t people tolerate it? Through that, the film begs us to ask if the world is not better being completely annihilated. The question is partly rhetorical, but it does bring up fascinating themes about the substance of love and the place of mental illness. David Foster Wallace faced his own mental illness- he had chronic depression for years. Perhaps he asked these same questions of tolerance in love. Find the film at annihilationoffish.com.


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