I experienced something last night that encouraged my faith in humans - just a little bit.
Three weeks ago I saw the film Lucy in a mostly empty theatre for a weekend matinee. I came home to find that it had 6.0 on IMDb and that, for the most part, people thought it a bad movie. Last night I saw it again - on a Monday night, when theatres are known to be a morgue. The theatre was packed. Nearly every seat was taken.
It was clear from the warm up commercials that the theatre was not full of intellectuals. And for the first minute or so of the film, there were those boys in the audience who thought the first images either silly or corny, who giggled to themselves. That, however, evaporated very quickly - and as the cheetah tore down the gazelle, it was almost possible to hear assholes puckering throughout the theatre.
Lucy is a good film. It is a smart film. It is classic sci fi, in which the 'science' is a means to an end, it is not the end in itself. Right and wrong are treated as what they actually are - interpretations slapped like bumper stickers onto the back of reality. It is sweet. Luc Besson has finally figured out how to direct.
I'm not sure why the fan boys hate it. But they do. They really do.
Of late I've been reading articles about why so many bad movies get made - and why the way Hollywood is designed practically guarantees it. Apparently, it is all about how the scripts are purchased and how vehicles are proposed, how writers are used like tissue paper and why producers suck. That is all well and good, and it certainly explains the Transformers franchise - but it doesn't explain how movies like Lucy get made.
A friendly warning: I don't think this is going to get back to D&D. I mean, for the moment, I don't have a connection for it - but as I write forward, I'll keep trying to think of one. I wanted to pursue a thought first that occurred to me while watching the film - about not knowing things and the certainty of not knowing.
We are all told not to judge things before we see them. We even use that philosophy as a weapon against others during an argument. "You don't know what it's like to be me," we say, implying that until you ARE me, you have no right to say anything about who I am or what I think.
We also apply this to those who haven't done the things we've done. A favorite is to say to your children, "Wait until you have a kid - then you'll see." Hollywood likes to tell us that the moment our kid is born, a miraculous change comes over us in a magic moment that makes our hearts melt - because we cannot really know what it is like to have our baby in our arms until it actually happens.
Most, I think, agree with these arguments. There's room for quibbling, but the arguments are made so many times by so many people that we have to at least accept that society believes the arguments to be true. Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. You'll never know what its like to be a parent until you are a parent.
So if we chastise someone for making their minds up about a movie they haven't seen, why is it we are all so casual when it comes to telling others what death is going to be like?
Everyone has an opinion, don't they? You're God's problem or your worm food, isn't that how it pretty much goes? But nobody knows . . . and nobody is in any position to know. Death is way less known that a film you haven't seen or a parenthood you haven't experienced yet. Brothers and sisters, just give it a think. What the hell do you really know about what happens after you're dead?
There are two times in your life when you'll become obsessed with death. When you're very young, and you're just trying to get a handle on what it is and the fact that it is going to happen to everyone; and when you're very old, and you're finally realizing that yes, you're not getting out of it alive. In between, death just gets put on a shelf. We get reminded of it every once in a while when someone around us dies - particularly our parents. My mother died almost two years ago. My father is 78 and he's definitely beginning to slip. That's becoming pretty clear - and the cold, hard truth of it is that this is how it goes. Slowly, steadily, this is how it goes.
It would seem really trite right now to talk about death in D&D. It would seem equally trite to talk about those blogs who feel they must post something every year about the death of some minor celebrity who is deeply remembered and deeply missed. It is a strange, mocking ritual, but it all fits the pattern of trying to manage something about which we know absolutely not a thing. Viewed from a distance, it all makes sense. We do what we can. We comfort ourselves as we can. We invent, we rationalize, we construct castles in the air and populate them with our imagined balm. There's nothing else we can do.
What is the alternative?
"Think of them as fleas on a dog hit by a car driven by a drunken teenager whose girlfriend has just given him the clap. It will help your sense of perspective."
- Lawrence Fassett, The Osterman Weekend
Well, I'm not sure that's helpful.
I'm encouraged that film and art hasn't given up the debate. I'm encouraged that the theatre was full last night despite the campaign going on that Lucy is a bad film. Word of mouth showed demonstrably that it's not.
"We never really die."