A Crack in the Mirror
On Saturday, my youngest son, Sawyer, and I had the afternoon to ourselves. It was raining so I suggested we watch a “guy” movie. A guy movie, in Sawyer and my parlance, is something from the Science Fiction/Fantasy queue on Netflix. I did not notice that the movie we selected was rated R. I found out soon enough once the credits were over. It was a movie intended to feel like a video game, and it was orgiastically violent. I didn’t want to be too much of a prude, so I stuck with it as long as I could, but when a scene began with a character ripping the back of his own neck open to get at the device planted there – I turned it off. I apologized to Sawyer, but told him I couldn’t stomach it any longer.
“I could!” he said. “It was awesome.”
It was true he’d been able stomach it. He’d sat beside me on the couch, riveted to every explosion and decapitation. When I asked him what he liked so much about the movie he’d said it was “dark.” That it was. The movie felt like a nightmare, a gun-filled dream world in which the only three emotions are lust, paranoia, and self-loathing.
Then last night my wife, Sawyer, and I were watching the Gene Hackman basketball classic Hoosiers. In this film a washed-up high school basketball star played by Dennis Hopper is given a chance to redeem himself by helping to coach Hackman’s team. Unfortunately, at an important game, Hopper arrives late and thoroughly drunk and staggers onto the court raving about a bad call.
As soon as Hopper appeared on camera, obviously drunk, Sawyer jumped up from the couch and left the room. “He’s going to screw up,” said Sawyer. “I can’t watch it.” I was going to mention our science fiction movie and what he had been able to watch in it, but before I could, Sawyer answered this comparison.
“It’s too much like real life!” he cried.
I was glad, at least, that “real life” for Sawyer apparently wasn’t a nightmare. Funny, though – if we could have traveled into the mind of Hopper’s character as he stormed the court we might have seen a world eerily reminiscent of the science fiction movie Sawyer and I had watched. Both, in this way, are real. The mirror can cut you both shattered and whole.
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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com