Thus Didn’t Spake Zarathustra

What Hitchcock, True Detective, and maybe Kanye all get wrong about Nietzsche.

“God is dead.” “There are no facts; only interpretations.” “What does not kill us, only makes us stronger.” Nietzsche wrote sentences so quotable that they beg to be taken out of context. And that’s just what happened: From Hitchcock’s Rope to Little Miss Sunshine, American pop culture has turned Nietzsche into an icon for angry nihilists with superiority complexes. In this video, I explore how our view of Nietzsche became so distorted.

In reality, Nietzsche was a very subtle thinker: His so-called “nihilism” was life-affirming and optimistic; his rejection of morality, he thought, had the power to make us happier and kinder toward each other. How did the philosopher who championed “joyful wisdom” and wrote letters to his family and friends telling them to stop being anti-Semitic turn into a darling of Nazis and sad teenagers? Well, as Nietzsche definitely said: “Watch the video above and find out!”