Sartre: The artisan would not have manufactured the dishes without the express intention that they would serve as a shallow container for food. In destroying the dishes’ essence by shooting them, Kenny has denied the dishes any meaningful existential purpose. They are done, and Kenny will soon learn that Hell is cleaning up shards of ceramic off of a lawn under the midday sun.

Nietzsche: The dishes cannot be done because they are no longer dishes; they are merely objects awaiting their next social construction by humans. If only Kenny and Sue Ellen had beheld an Überdish—such a dish would never have broken!

Plato: The dishes are done, but the Idea of the dishes lives on.

Camus: Like Sisyphus before him, Kenneth has the potential to be the absurd hero, resigned to the perpetual struggle of washing the dishes with no hope of success, as the dishes will be soiled anew each day. Instead, Kenneth has shot the dishes in revolt against his crushing fate. He will not find happiness until he recognizes that the dishes will never truly be done; there will always be new dishes to do.

Wollstonecraft: If Sue Ellen’s patriarchal educational system had afforded her the resources it heaps on men such as Kenny, she would have known to ask Kenny to “wash” the dishes rather than “do” them. Sue Ellen’s lack of specificity is the fault of a society that conspires to preclude Sue Ellen from ever truly being “right on top of that,” for either Rose or herself.

Kierkegaard: The objective truth is that the dishes are done, but that is not the point. Kenny was overwhelmed with angst over the freedom to choose whether or not to wash the dishes. Shooting the dishes was Kenny’s misguided attempt to release himself from this inescapable dread; when the dishes no longer exist, there can no longer be a choice about washing them.

Arendt: The banality of evil is such that evil acts come more from a lack of thinking than from evil intentions. Sue Ellen told Kenny to do the dishes. Rather than consider the nuance of the request, Kenny thoughtlessly complied, like any bureaucrat would have.

Socrates: Why do you think the dishes are done? And why dishes? Why not bowls?

Schopenhauer: Talent hits a target which others cannot reach; genius hits a target which others cannot even see. In shooting the dishes, Kenny has also destroyed Sue Ellen’s authority in the Crandell household—a target visible only to him. The dishes are done, as is the family hierarchy, unless Sue Ellen can reassert herself in the second half of the movie and Kenny can find a purposeful outlet for his genius.

Smith: The true query be not whether the dishes are done, but whether Sue Ellen has enough money left in petty cash to procure more dishes.

Wittgenstein: In most cases, the meaning of a word is its use in the language. Sue Ellen and Kenny are both using correct variations of “do.” However, the siblings are playing different language-games: Sue Ellen’s sentence gives an order, while Kenny’s sentence makes a joke. (I’m pretty sure we’re not here in order to enjoy ourselves, but that Kenny sure makes me lol.)


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