Study Guide

Birdman Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

To bird, or not to bird, that is the question that Riggan keeps asking himself.

Even though he threw away the bird suit long ago, a part of him still wants to hop back in and regain his former glory as the high-flying superhero on the big screen. But why did Riggan give it all away? What's not to like about being a movie star?

Well, the problem starts when the movie stops starring Riggan Thomson and starts starring Birdman. As Riggan runs mostly naked through the streets of NYC, what are people yelling at him? "Mr. Thomson, may I make an inquiry for an autograph"? No; it's "Birdman," this and, "Birdman," that, until Riggan Thomson is no more than the fleshy filling stuffed behind those big wings and bronze beak mask.

Riggan doesn't just want to do the play to prove his worth as an artist; he needs to do the play to prove he even exists apart from the thing that made him exist in the first place.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. Why does Ed (from the play) say he doesn't exist? Lost love? Lack of self-worth? Psychosis?
  2. What does Riggan mean when he says he wasn't present in his own life?
  3. Why is Riggan so afraid that he might literally disappear?

Chew on This

Social media presence is the equivalent of existence in today's connected society. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? If you live your life but nobody knows about it through Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, do you really exist?

Social media is the antithesis of existence. People spend all their time creating and sharing their digital life that they forget to live in the first place.

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