What is happening in ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’? – a plot summary, analysis, and the ending explained

Charlie Kaufman’s latest film I’m Thinking of Ending Things is arguably his most inaccessible work yet. I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about it, reading about it, and dissecting it. Here’s the best explanation I’ve been able to come up with (Note: Spoilers, obviously).

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a video essay as researched as this one, and it’ll probably be a long time until I do one again. It’s just too much work to do on top of my full time job to become a regular thing, but this movie was so compelling (plus I had a brief opening with the holiday weekend) that I pushed through to make it happen. I hope enjoy it.

This one is for all the marbles

There’s a tweet thread I haven’t been able to get out of my head recently. It comes from Brynn Tannehill, who recently expanded her viral thread into an entire article for Dame magazine. You can read the whole thread here but I’ve also reproduced some of the text below:

The more I write about this, the more it becomes plain: if Biden loses, 2020 will be the last remotely free and fair election we have for decades, and certainly my lifetime.

We are in the middle of an autocratic attempt, and it looks so much like Hungary’s. The courts are being packed with loyalists. Most state legislatures in swing states are gerrymandered beyond belief. The executive branch is gaining unitary power. The Dept of Justice is blatantly selectively applying the law to favor the autocrat. IGs are being destroyed. AGs are being replaced. Congress is no longer a check on corruption, as the Senate has been captured by Trump loyalists. RBG is in bad shape. Ditto Breyer. Hybrid regimes (competitive authoritarianism) are remarkably stable. This is why 2020 is for all the marbles.

This is why I have no use for people who whinge about Biden/Harris not being far enough left for their tastes. They are under the mistaken belief that if Biden loses, they will have another chance to elect people that are far enough left for their liking.

The truth is, if Biden/Harris lose, there isn’t going to be an opportunity to elect someone they like in their lifetime. Not without secession of blue states. That’s the only plausible scenario I can come up with after the autocratic breakthrough. The people who study autocracy are all singing the same tune: American Democracy is not strong enough to survive another 4 years. The guardrails are already almost completely down. This is entirely consistent with how others have fallen in the post-Cold War period. […]

Beware, be warned, or don’t. Because once this election comes and goes, if Donald J. Trump is still President on January 21st, 2021, We’re Fucked. Democracy in America is not coming back. In most states, your vote no longer matters. We are rapidly approaching it at a federal level.

The thread does a great job of summarizing the direness of the situation but also pointing out the bizarre delusion that many people seem to be laboring under: That being dissatisfied with Biden and holding out for a better candidate in the future is a viable option to effect change.

The truth of the matter is that America is already operating under minoritarian rule. Increasingly, the makeup of our government no longer represents the will of the people, as gerrymandering and the electoral college continue to entrench the GOP despite the fact that Democrats have won the popular vote and lost twice in the last five elections. Soon, the work of these institutions will be complete.

Over at Eudaimonia, Umair Haque makes a similar case in his ominously titled piece, “We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying.” Haque warns that all the signs of authoritarianism we’ve witnessed in other countries are happening right here in the U.S. We just don’t have experience in recognizing them:

America already has an ISIS, a Taliban, an SS waiting to be born. A group of young men willing to do violence at the drop of a hat, because they’ve been brainwashed into hating. The demagogue has blamed hated minorities and advocates of democracy and peace for those young men’s stunted life chances, and they believe him. That’s exactly what an ISIS is, what a Taliban is, what an SS is. The only thing left to do by an authoritarian is to formalize it.

But when radicalized young men are killing people they have been taught to hate by demagogues right in the open, on the streets — a society has reached the beginnings of sectarian violence, the kind familiar in the Islamic world, and is at the end of democracy’s road.

On Instagram, filmmaker Ava Duvernay wrote an excellent summation of the situation on the occasion of Kamala Harris’s nomination to the Democratic ticket:

There is no debate anymore. There’s no room for it in my book. We either make this happen. Or literally, more of us perish. People are dying. Someone I love died. This virus is real. If it hasn’t visited your doorstep, it will. Oh but, Kamala did this or she didn’t do that. I hear you. I know. And I don’t care. Because what she DIDN’T DO is abandon citizens in a pandemic, rip babies from their mother’s arms at the border, send federal troops to terrorize protestors, manufacture new ways to suppress Black and Brown votes, actively disrespect Indigenous people and land, traffic in white supremacist rhetoric in an effort to stir racist violence at every turn, attempt to dismantle most American democratic systems of checks and balance, degrade women all day everyday, infect the Supreme Court with another misogynist hack, demolish America’s standing on climate, actively cultivate and further white supremacist structures and systems across all aspects of American daily life. I mean, that’s what she DIDN’T do.

So I don’t wanna hear anything bad about her. It doesn’t matter to me. Vote them in and then let’s hold them accountable. Anything other than that is insanity. It’s ego. It’s against our own interests. It’s selfish. It’s disrespectful to our elders. It’s nonsense. It’s talking to hear yourself talk. This is a matter of life or death. We need all our energy focused. This is a fight for more than can be expressed here. There is no debate anymore. Not for me anyway.

Some citizens believe that one’s vote is a sacred thing. That one most vote for a candidate that represents one’s true beliefs and that it’s a violation of one’s obligations to compromise in any way.

It’s a perfectly valid way of approaching voting but it’s not one I subscribe to. I think you should vote to effect a specific outcome. And all the available evidence we have indicates that voting for Biden offers us the best opportunity to continue our democracy and achieve an outcome that’s closest to what progressives actually desire.

I hope everyone who’s undecided will wake up and decide the same thing. This one is for all the marbles.


A few things I’ve made recently:

Some other things worth checking out on the internet:

How you can help me make more stuff

This week, I launched a Patreon page to support my work.

I’ve been creating podcasts and videos on the internet for 13 years. During that time, I’ve been blessed to garner a small fanbase of people who support what I do, both financially and emotionally. While my life has gone through many changes during that time, I’ve continued to crank out content as quickly as humanly possible.

Balancing a full time job and all my extracurricular activities has always been delicate. My approach thus far has been to essentially make things when I feel like it. But I’ve now reached a phase (and let’s be honest, an age) in my life when I need to be as thoughtful as possible about how to use my time.

In the past year, I’ve launched several podcasts (including my pride and joy, Culturally Relevant) on top of my existing commitments. I’ve grown my YouTube channel to 15K subscribers. I’ve also continued to do plenty of live broadcasts on Twitter/Periscope.

I generate zero revenue from these activities, but I’ve enjoyed doing pretty much all of them. I am happy with the communities that have sprung up around them and want to keep investing more time, resources, and energy into them.

I also want to make even more stuff. I want to have more interesting conversations. I want to create more videos. I want to hire a producer and an editor to help me. I want to be able to justify spending hours taking a look back at [insert your favorite TV show/film/soundtrack/etc.] when possible.

The question I’m asking the world with this Patreon is: How much do people out there want to invest in me? It’s a terrifying question to ask the internet. But it’s the answer I seek. I think there’s value in paying for things you want to invest in and that you want to see continue (I support multiple Patreons pages myself and find it to be a very satisfying experience).

Yes, there are some cool rewards, but ultimately it’s about supporting me as an artist, encouraging me to make more things, and giving me resources to do so. If you’ve enjoyed any of my tweets/writings/podcasts/videos, I hope you’ll consider it. Thanks.

Also, if you want to hear me talk about why I’m doing this, check out the latest episode of Culturally Relevant.

TL;DR: I’ve launched a Patreon and I’d be much obliged if you could support me and my passion projects. Thank you.

Social media is a bloodsport

In 2019, a Twitter user named @maplecocaine unleashed this piece of wisdom onto the internet:

The tweet resonated with so many people because it captures the cyclical nature of social media. Every day the internet focuses its destructive energy on a small group of people, often leaving only smoldering wreckage behind before moving on to the next thing that temporarily catches its attention.

Recently, Geoff Shullenberger wrote a piece for Tablet Magazine that beautifully captures this phenomenon in much greater detail:

Regardless of which side wins any particular battle in the recurring speech wars, both parties to the conflict end up reinforcing the power of the overall system in which the drama is enacted. And so a pattern emerges that is larger and more consequential than the specifics of the latest political flare-up. It is not the arguments or ideas of any political group, but the structure of the digital platforms that sets the tone of the culture as a whole.

And what is the structure? It is an arena for perpetual conflict driven by an accumulation of grievances collected in a mass program of decentralized surveillance. We are incentivized, by the coded logic of the social media platforms where public engagement now takes place, to find reasons to hate each other. The algorithms that encourage and reward particular behaviors on Twitter and Facebook play on our deepest human instincts and desires to create spectacles of symbolic violence and sacrifice. Much of the time, the violence and spectacle has the appearance of a game or a light amusement. To take it too seriously, therefore, is to risk being an alarmist, and likely of the reactionary sort. But it is precisely the gamelike aspect of the platforms that keeps us playing. Playing and paying because the point, finally, is profit.

I cannot recommend this piece enough. It identifies precisely what drives so much of the conversation on social platforms. The platforms are calibrated to appeal to the basest instincts of human nature, and the masses demand a blood sacrifice on a near-daily basis. The platforms are ready and willing to serve one up, and make a buck on the side while doing so. Lives are destroyed (some justifiably, others not so much). The rich get richer. The house always wins.

I also think it’s worth noting that this thinking applies regardless of your beliefs on politics, “cancel culture,” or social issues. The drivers of conflict transcend ideology. The rewards and punishments are often the same.

I’m not saying don’t use social media but if you’re going to step into the ring, at least know what outcomes the ring is designed to achieve. As our discourse becomes increasingly polarized, it’s important to consider what incentives drive us and, if necessary, maybe take a step back from the keyboard before we (myself included) dunk on that terrible, terrible tweet.


A few things I’ve made recently:

Some other things that are worth reading on the internet:

Waypoint Radio’s Last of Us Part 2 review

The Last of Us 2 was a provocative piece of art and while I didn’t particularly care for it, I did spend quite a bit of time thinking about it, reading about it, and dissecting it.

I wanted to share who I think has done the best job tackling this complex topic: Waypoint Radio, which has recently published a six-hour long podcast (yup) about the game. It’s one of the most cogent, thoughtful explorations of what the game was trying to accomplish, and how it might have missed the mark. I consider it essential listening for anyone interested in The Last of Us Part 2.

Here is part 1 of the podcast.

Here is part 2 of the podcast.