We flew toward the pulsing skyline of Chicago, which danced in the distance like a giant, realized dream. Voices spun stories. We talked about how we approached the page, how book proposals were stupid and how guidelines can be so crippling. We laughed about the Oklahoma bumpkins gazing up at the big city lights of this big time world.
I confessed. I had not watched the popular and well-critiqued Friday Night Lights. “Because I know there are teenagers making bad choices.”
I had not seen The Wire because the world is so gritty and dark and that is a real truth for more people than I want to realize.
I had once come thisclose to asking for prayer for Dr. Mark Green during Sunday School. You know? Dr. Mark Green, who only existed on the small screen and had been saddled with inoperable, fictional brain cancer by the writers of E.R.*
I have so far avoided the movie I Am Sam, and the one with George Clooney, The Descendants, because it’s an ugly family thing, with adultery and pain and mess.
My husband thinks Life Is Beautiful is a gorgeous and uplifting film. I think he’s crazy. The guy dies! He’s murdered, for cripes’ sake. I fail to see the beauty in that.
Then again. I’m the woman who makes a case for Eminem. He tells a provoking, raw, angry story. His story is valid and true, and it is told with his language, his diction, his style. Christians like to hate Marshall Mathers because he’s so offensive, he’s so over the top, he’s so provocative that he refuses to be ignored. And he, being both a great storyteller and a genius marketer, knows how to craft stories that get him more attention. As emotionally blasted as his work is, he tells a story.
And there is truth in every story.
I had to examine my logic. Despite the accolades that each of the films or shows received, I had decided, sight unseen, that I couldn’t handle the subject matter. I do have an overactive maternal instinct. At the conference in Chicago, I had everything in my purse except a washcloth in a baggie, which my mother would have packed first. I do not like when fictional babies get fictional illnesses. I do not like it when the family (of actors) falls apart. It hurts too much. It’s too much like real life.
But I don’t avoid them because I only like perfectly tied bows of happiness and unicorns. I watch plenty of unhappy, ugly, raw. I don’t mind a story that shows the imperfect underbelly of life. The unknown, toiling away writer in me is avoiding the work of better-knowns, because they are better knowns. But mightn’t they have something to give? To teach?
I’m taking my time, starting with The Wire. Can’t wait to write about the chess lesson in episode 3, season one. Turns out, there’s some good stuff there.
*dont’t pull a Kathrine Heigl and piss off the writers, because they will kill you off and it won’t be pretty.