The way of Waymond

The way of Waymond

by Pakistan News
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August 14, 2022


It started with a conversation about Andrew Tate. For those who don’t know, Tate is latest poster boy for the so-called ‘manosphere’ – a collection of online communities that seek to ‘reaffirm a lost masculinity’. Their reaffirmation, more often than not, ends up being reduced to misogyny, both by vocal proponents like the aforementioned Tate and by critics from the other side of ideological spectrum. But the problematic ideas that simmer in the manosphere go beyond misogyny. The term toxic masculinity is thrown around a lot, to the point that it may lose its meaning, but the ideal of masculinity that a generation of confused young men are gravitating towards is both toxic and a reversal of generations of philosophical and spiritual insight into what the best version of one’s self could be regardless of gender.

Since its release earlier this year, Everything Everywhere All at Once has garnered pretty much universal acclaim from critics. While its gross of a little over $100 million may seem nothing to talk about in comparison to the billion-dollar-plus club of summer spectacles, it is to date independent film distributor A24’s highest grossing film. Not bad for a movie made with a budget of just $25 million.

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – collectively known as Daniels – Everything Everywhere All at Once is at once science fiction, slapstick comedy, kung fu film, family drama, a love letter to Hong Kong cinema; the list goes on. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has popularised the idea of a ‘multiverse’ – a network of parallel universes collectively encompassing limitless possibility – the multi-billion dollar franchise has so far not explored it beyond alternate destination hopping.

Everything Everywhere All at Once, in contrast, confronts us with existential terror that may emanate from awareness of alternate versions of one’s life. Many of us suffer scattered moments of dread, wondering what could have been had things gone another way. But imagine knowing for sure that life could have been more exciting; that you could have been more successful in countless ways.

“I saw my life without you. I wish you could have seen it… it was beautiful,” the film’s protagonist Evelyn Wang tells her affable and forlorn husband Waymond at one point. “You have so many goals you never finished, dreams you never followed. You’re living your worst you,” an alternate version of Waymond – Alpha Waymond (we’ll come back to that) – tells Evelyn earlier in the film. “Can’t you see? Every failure here branched off into a success for another Evelyn in another life,” he adds.

Everything Everywhere All at Once makes the viewer consider nihilism in the face of this cosmic horror – “If nothing matters, then all the pain and guilt you feel for making nothing of your life goes away,” the film’s antagonist reflects. It asks us if an alternate path to follow could even be valid if all existence is at its root meaningless.


But at its heart, all wackiness, sci-fi shenanigans and philosophy aside, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the story of a family fractured in ways that are deep yet unremarkable. There is no grand tragic event that has left each member of this family lost. Between the pressures of day-to-day life – “laundry and taxes” – they have, like many real life families, neglected reminding each other and themselves just how much they love and need one another. That is what makes it most tragic.

There is a fracture across generations – Evelyn and Waymond marry and leave for the US in defiance of her father’s ambitions for her. Their daughter Joy, unable to live up to her mother’s expectations in her mind, particularly on account of her sexuality, feels continuous exasperation. Most heart breaking, however, is the predicament of Waymond who, it is slowly revealed, is considering a divorce. Unlike the cliché, there is no philandering involved. There is no other person, not for Waymond nor for Evelyn. Despite everything, he deeply loves, admires and cares for his wife. But seeing his affections unreturned and his attempts to be there for his wife has left him considering if they would be better off apart.

Coming back to the initial train of thought, Waymond, as other critics have pointed out, may well be the standout character. Considering the times we live in, I believe Waymond may perhaps be a crucial model to consider. On the surface, he seems to be a prime example of the ‘pushover’: the kind of man other movies put on a path to transformation into an ‘alpha male’. The kind someone like Tate and his fans would endlessly mock and belittle.

The interesting things, as critics have noted, is that Waymond doesn’t change. The Daniels choose not to frame Waymond as someone whose masculinity needs to be repaired or rediscovered. And while we start the movie seeing him from Evelyn’s eyes, we later learn that in his own way, Waymond too is an active and courageous participant in the conflict life places us all in.

Towards the climax of the film, Waymond pleads with everyone on screen – and the audience – to just stop fighting: “I know you are all fighting because you’re scared and confused. I’m confused too… The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.” Juxtaposed with this Waymond is a version of him in a universe where both him and Evelyn found material success as a consequence of drifting apart. “You tell me that it’s a cruel world and we’re all just running around in circles. I know that,” this version – CEO Waymond as fans have dubbed him – tells his world’s version of Evelyn. “When I choose to see the good side of things, I’m not being naive. It is strategic and necessary. It’s how I learned to survive through everything.”

Both these Waymonds in contrast to the self-identified Alpha Waymond, whose martial arts prowess and conventional daring wows us in the beginning, are shown as unafraid to be vulnerable. But in their own way, they have made the most of their lives, sticking to their unselfish, empathetic outlook. The primary Waymond, as we learn has constantly rescued Evelyn from her worst errors, simply by being kind and friendly, and without commandeering her life. His Alpha version, meanwhile, quickly discards the central version of Evelyn as soon as he feels she can’t help him meet his ends.

For whatever reasons – and these merit exploration – a generation of young men today finds themselves lost. Many of them, naturally, seek an ideology or model that could guide them out of this existential wilderness. While circumstances may be different in a country like ours compared to say, the West, young men generally have been sold an idea of masculinity that rests on a myth. The story of humankind’s success boils down not to the feats of ‘great men’. Rather, it is a tale of collective effort, cooperation and innovation. Selfishness and needless aggression will not lead us to fulfil our human potential. But kindness, empathy and courage – the way

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