Thursday, February 3, 2022

Groundhog Day and Embracing the Absurd


Groundhog Day and Embracing the Absurd

<i>Groundhog Day</i> and Embracing the Absurd

Often when we talk about stories, we question whether the stakes are high enough, or too high, or whether they’re even extant. In Groundhog Day, the classic 1993 comedy about a self-centered weatherman (Bill Murray) stuck in a time loop, tangible stakes quickly fly out of the window, with emotional and, more importantly, philosophical consequences being the only real stakes at play.

Pretty early on in the film, Murray’s character, the obnoxiously narcissistic Phil, realizes that there are no consequences for his actions. He can steal, seduce, wreak havoc and even kill himself, and nothing about his circumstances will change. No matter what, he will still wake up with Sonny and Cher on the radio in the small Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney.

His situation feels like the perfect recipe for nihilism, the philosophical idea promoted by Friedrich Nietzsche and others that life is pointless and the values that we hold dear have no root in actual fact. And who could blame him for being a nihilist when he’s faced with a blank slate every day? Phil follows this philosophy to its logical conclusions—hedonism and suicide—multiple times. No matter what, he’s still under that homey quilt in the morning. Nihilism is not the answer.

From there, Phil works on his own personal growth and starts to help the townspeople he once rebuffed, partly because he’s grown, but also because his development as a person endears him to his producer/love interest Rita (Andie McDowell, with glorious hair). At this stage, he seems to be subscribing to enlightened self-interest, the idea that in helping others, you in turn help yourself (basically the golden rule revisited).

It works for him most of the time, but he still has to start from scratch every day in terms of winning over Rita. Phil is painfully aware of how far he’s come as a person towards the end of the movie, confessing to Rita that the worst part of his predicament is waking up every morning with her still thinking he’s a jerk. So even though Phil’s change of heart serves him to some extent, he’s hardly a man of enlightened self-interest, considering the effort he has to go through to prove himself to Rita day in and day out.

Phil’s actions do follow a philosophy, though: absurdism, particularly that championed by the French philosopher Albert Camus. Absurdism doesn’t fall that far from nihilism, preoccupying itself with the inherent dissonance between our desire for meaning and the senselessness of the universe. Camus’ seminal work The Myth of Sisyphus invokes the Greek myth which isn’t all that different from Phil’s circumstances: Sisyphus is tasked for eternity with pushing a boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down to the bottom again, then he pushes it back up, and on and on.

Ultimately, though, Camus says that we can find happiness in the face of the absurd, as long as we both accept the absurdity of life and keep trying to create our own meaning. As he wrote in The Myth of Sisyphus, “Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.”

Phil follows this doctrine by embracing the cycle in which he’s trapped. He learns new skills like ice sculpting, saves a kid falling out of a tree, and preoccupies himself with general do-goodery. Phil also creates meaning by finding solace in his connection with Rita, despite him having to rekindle it every day. Only in embracing the absurd is Phil set free.

Our circumstances can feel so dire sometimes, between the greed of the upper classes, ignorance on climate change and any other number of issues that feel obvious in their solution, save for the inertia of world leaders. However, maybe by accepting the absurd we can find some of the peace that Phil has as he walks through the snow hand in hand with Rita.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy edtior. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.




Flats and blowouts could soon be a thing of the past.


Michelin and General Motors have teamed up to literally reinvent the wheel with a new generation of high-tech airless tires.

The automotive companies’ Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) doesn’t have a traditional sidewall and carries a load by the top via a resin-embedded fiberglass material that Michelin already has 50 patents for, according to Car and Driver.

“The idea was to develop a technology that was strong enough to carry the load but light enough to replace the air,” Cyrille Roget, technical and scientific communication director for the Michelin Group, told the magazine.


“If you have a load on the tire and you cut all the spokes at the bottom, you will see that nothing will change, demonstrating that the load is carried by the top of it, not by the under parts.”

There are quite a few advantages to airless tires, the most obvious being that the risk of flats or dangerous roadside blowouts is totally eliminated. A Michelin press releases states that approximately 200 million tires are scrapped prematurely every year worldwide due to damage.


The Uptis also requires virtually no maintenance and would have a significantly longer lifespan than pressurized counterparts.

That means that the environmental impact of the tire industry would drastically decrease if the technology was adopted widely.

It could happen in the next five years. The Uptis is already being tested on the Chevrolet Bolt, and later this year, a fleet of the EVs will spin the Uptis in real-world trials.

Ultimately, the goal is to begin offering the Uptis on passenger vehicles in 2024.

Soon, all of our pothole worries will be a thing of the past.





The “OG Insta golf girl” is totally crushing it.

Paige Spiranac attends The Maxim Hot 100 Experience in Hollywood. 

Paige Spiranac made her name by posting videos from the links to Instagram, hence her deserved, self-proclaimed title as the “OG Insta golf girl.” But she’s gone from turning heads on the green to nabbing major modeling gigs that landed her in both the Maxim Hot 100 and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, garnering millions of followers along the way.

Recently, the Spiranac made headlines for criticizing star Bryson DeChambeau after the American golfer was captured calling an official ruling “garbage”at the Memorial Tournament in late July.

“I used to be a big Bryson fan. I was all in on Bryson … I thought he was doing things that were different, innovative and he is who he is, and I respect that,” she said on her latest Playing-A-Round podcast“But in the last few weeks it’s been really hard to be a Bryson fan. He’s crossed that line from being different to being a d**k.”

Yahoo Sports notes that DeChambeau also blew up at a cameraman at the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier in early July.

As Spiranac continues to gain more fans and grow her brand, she has remained a staunch advocate for victims of bullying, a topic she opened up about in a piece written for

“Before taking up the game of golf, I was a young girl with horrible asthma and a hair condition that made me nearly bald until I was about 10 — a girl who was bullied incessantly,” she writes. “I started playing golf after a broken knee led me to quit my career as an elite gymnast. It wasn’t long before I became one of the world’s top-ranked amateur players.”

Soon after beginning her amateur career, Spiranac realized that competition took the fun out of playing golf for her.

“On the range and in practice rounds I was shooting lights out, but in competition I fell apart. It was terribly frustrating,” she wrote. “It wasn’t until last year that I figured out the problem: I just don’t love competitive golf.”

“What I love is the game itself. I love being outdoors, practicing, and smelling the freshly cut grass at 6 a.m. as the sun rises. But I didn’t love travel, or pressure, or the mean-spiritedness of my competitors.”

But don’t worry—she’s not putting her clubs down anytime soon. Among her many brand partnerships is an ambassadorship with X-Golf America, an indoor simulator entertainment concept.

Here, 10 glorious times Spiranac made the golf green a better place:

Her punch shot is primo.

So is her bunker shot.

Her golf cart selfie game is unmatched.

She has insane ball control…

Her preshot ritual is epic.

She has a great sense of humor.

Her trick shots don’t always go as planned.

She can drive in high heels…

…or something more casual.

And she’s got solid putting tips!