Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mean People

I tried watching Rain Man last night. I couldn't finish it. It was too difficult. Dustin Hoffman does a marvelous job in that role. Seriously. And I guess Tom Cruise does, too. (P.S. I did NOT know both of them were in that movie. Crazy?!) I could not watch Charlie Babbitt treat his brother with such contempt, such anger, such self-serving. Partially because it is sickening to see humanity so base, so far from what we were created to be ... it must have been a little taste of how God feels when He looks down at His creation gone so far astray. When I turned off the t.v., that must be a small part of what it's like when God turns His back to what His beloveds do. But I did not turn the t.v. back on and have chosen today not to finish the movie. I normally have a problem with not finishing things ... to an extent, at least (I also love to run away from things) ... but I am trying, as it comes up, to learn to let things go unfinished and be okay with that. I'm sure the movie is completely redeemed by the end, after all, it's a much-loved classic.
But I think what is more painful is that in the character of Charlie Babbitt, I also see reflections of myself. This is sometimes the marvelous thing about movies (sometimes it's the hardest). Movies can never be too far removed from the culture in which they are made and the people who make them. Somewhere there is Truth in them, but whether you see it or not is up to you mostly. There are some movies which are solely for enjoyment and you should not always analyze movies to find the Truth lurking in there. Return to Me for example. I do not think that it is a deep movie with profound spiritual Truth about honesty, secrets, relationships, destiny and community. It's true that those things are addressed and covered, but mostly it's a cute movie. That's fine. Rain Man, however, is more than just a cute movie. And the fact that I see part of myself, a disgusting part of myself, in Charlie Babbitt hurts. A lot. We have a new coworker at my shop and she is painfully slow and nearly incompetent. I do not treat her well. If my behavior toward her were filmed and put on a big screen. I think I would also turn it off and send it back. Only in my story I'm not fairly certain the behavior will be redeemed (if the person is) ... and I won't be getting a golden statuette for it.
I haven't sent Rain Man back yet, so I may still finish it and be glad that I did. Maybe I should finish it so that I can see and be reminded of the redemption of my actions and attitude, maybe the pain is good for me to go through to help me remember to beware of my choices and avoid making poor ones, especially as I relate to people.
For all the fluff I say about loving people, I don't often do it well. It's the second most important commandment and it's so hard. We only have to do two things in this life, and both of them are incredibly difficult. But not impossible. If we have Faith.


amyrose said...

I have always wanted to watch that movie, now maybe I won't, it's hard for me to watch people being cruel to other people. Did you know that the rain man character is based on a real person, someone named Kim Peek? I just learned that he died this past December. Pretty incredible to be able to do things like that. (They did change the character for the movie, but the inspiration was a real man.)

The Wibbler said...

I did end up making it through the movie. Hoffman's acting is incredible. Truly truly incredible. The movie, for me, was fine. I can maybe understand how it was such a big deal when it came out, and I think it has had a huge impact on cinema since then. But, if it's hard for you to watch people being cruel to other people ... I don't know that it's worth it for you. Maybe on some day when you're feeling super strong in your optimism toward the world. There have been more recent, less difficult movies with the same effect/point. But it was good and admirable.