Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha valorizes idealism, not madness

Forget Don Quixote and “Man of La Mancha” for a second.

Whether you like either or both or neither, can we all agree that there are a LOT of books, movies, plays, etc., dedicated to the dubious notion that the insane are wonderful people that we should all learn from and emulate? That the mad are free and happy and that we would all be happier if we were just a little mad too?

“Man of La Mancha” is just one of thousands of pieces of pop culture pushing that message. And it’s worth asking occasionally… isn’t that a rather stupid and even dangerous message?

To use another example I’ve discussed here before… Elwood P. Dowd is a delusional drunk in “Harvey,” but is held up as a role model for the rest of us! We sane, sober folks are a bunch of repressed, miserable buddy-buddies who need to loosen up and embrace the crazy.

“Harvey” was a funny movie and Jimmy Stewart was delightful… But that is a TERRIBLE lesson.

What did spell check not like about “fuddy-duddies,” I wonder.

Death: “What are Dreams? Dreams are nothing, my brother.”
Dream: “Dreams are ‘nothing’, sister? Without dreams there could be no Despair.”
Delirium: “His madness…his madness keeps him sane.”
Morpheus: “And do you think he is the only one, my sister?”

The real Norton was a very sick man. But in a harbinger of things to come, the people of San Francisco embraced his madness, thought his sick delusions were cute.

The same thing happened a century later with Cal Berkeley’s “Naked Guy.” Andrew Martinez was a suicidal schizophrenic who needdd help. Did he get it? Hell no- he was treated as the latest lovable Bay Area eccentric. His madness was seen as delightfully quirky.

His suicide, of course, was far from cute.