(Irwin and I went on a plane ride on Election Day to Catalina. Perspective…)
Hey friends. Whew. A lot of things. I could write about a lot of things.
As I’m sure many can relate, it’s hard to stop my mind from chewing on this election all day long. The talking points, the issues that branch out into yet more branches of issues and more branches; it’s overwhelming. It feels like we’re living in a country of knots. Many of which are too stubborn to even consider untangling themselves.
I’m tired and angry and disgusted…and also more than capable of being a good force for this world. When so many are choosing not to do that.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to actually support something or someone.
I’m thinking about art a lot. I’ve seen it written that this is a time where we need escapism more than ever – so it’s great for people in entertainment! Yeah, I get that. But I don’t want just escapism. I want to feel closer to life and what drives me to live a good life.
After my dad died I really started questioning the worth of movies. Yes, you do need escapism. Especially when a family member is dying of cancer next to you. You need to watch Wanted together and laugh and say this is so stupid, it’s hilarious.
(It’s surreal. Wanted was the last movie I ever watched with my dad. I made fun of it the entire time. And he cried, he was laughing so much. He was in some ways younger than he’d ever been my whole life at that point. He had a brain tumor, and we were lucky in that it made him very sweet.)
I also look to art to feel how hard life is in a safe way. Recently, at a festival, a woman came up to me to tell me how much she liked our movie, and then she said, “My partner is over there. She’d come over too, but she can’t or she’ll start crying again.” And I though, oh, you too.
I can always tell who has lost someone based on their response to June Falling Down. It’s very quiet. And I think often times we don’t even get to hear their response because they walk away from our movie without saying anything. I’m the same way. Beginners made me sob once I got home afterward. So did Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I knew what these movies were about beforehand, but I went anyway. I wanted the pain of it and I felt more awake afterward. Because they’re also very beautiful movies. And they’re funny. Thank God.
There are a lot of complaints lately about how Hollywood really doesn’t make many good movies anymore. I think in a lot of ways we could take some responsibility for that. We’re not paying to see good movies anymore. We want them for “free” online. And they do cost too much in the theatre, I think that’s true. Chris and I go to matinees a lot to be honest.
I’ve also seen a lot of responses of, wow, just imagine the art that’s going to come from this election!
I thought that too, and I understand that response. I think it’s true, we’ll see some fantastic art come out of this. But we’ll also see a lot of young artists being bullied and shut down, disempowered, not to mention terrorized. You need artists who can practice their religions without fear, who can walk the streets proudly as themselves, as fellow Americans worthy of respect and their own self-expression. You also need to have artists with health insurance, which Chris and I have been lucky to have thanks to Obamacare. Before this, we just wouldn’t have gone to the doctor. What a blessing it’s been to feel safe.
I recently had a fellow director tell me not to be so upset about this election, to not worry so much, to just keep making art. “Art is more important than politics.”
Well not if you don’t have the freedom to make the art.
I can’t remember where I heard this recently, but while I don’t want to argue on levels of importance, I do agree with the concept that politics are more serious than art.
(Ps. violent rage ensued after that conversation. Mansplaining at its finest. Guys, this world is about to bitch slap you so hard if you keep behaving this way. It’s best just to get on board with us now because we’re just getting started. Best way to begin? Let us finish our fucking sentences.)
I also know that art is one of the best ways to step into another person’s perspective. I had a very bizarre response to the election in that I became obsessed with thinking, Idris Elba needs to be the next James Bond, like, yesterday. Because I want that 007 movie as the only movie playing in the one movie screen small towns of white America.
I’ve been thinking about money a lot lately. Clearly, America is too, considering we just elected a man for president with a gold plated penthouse (how does that not scream villain to everybody?!?). Well, if you’ve been reading my blogs at all, you know I’m pretty broke. It’s hard not to think obsessively about money when you don’t have it. But I do go out and a have a beer from time to time. I have a little bit of extra cash now and then.
So I donated to Planned Parenthood. To Standing Rock. For the first time ever as an adult (this feels embarrassing but I’ve been broke), I’m paying for a reliable print news source. Because I believe in facts and ethical journalism.
And I’m really thinking about movies. About paying for them – to “vote” for more like them. We recently saw Lion at the Twin Cities Film Fest and cried the entire time. It’s so gorgeous. The best movie I have seen maybe in years. I was just astonished at how beautiful it was. Hollywood needs to be making more of these movies. New kinds of lead characters and better stories.
Because I’ve never honestly really put myself into the shoes of a little boy in India, and I’m so glad I got to – through this movie.
I’m privileged enough to be horrified by the hate that’s surfaced during this election. I’m not shocked by the sexism of this country because I feel it constantly. But I’m white and in a bubble about all the other forms of prejudice and all I can think is – how did your teachers fail you so terribly? I grew up reading about Anne Frank and the Underground Railroad. I grew up reading stories and watching films about people who were different from me. I remember feeling the ugly anger of the villains of the past and seeing their faces in textbooks, and thinking, what horrible people. How do you not see when you’re on the wrong side of history?
How do you not see that now in 2016? I think maybe you do, but you’re ignoring the feeling.
The stories we consume can open us up to people who are different from ourselves. Movies and TV can help. They can break people open. But you have to pay to tell Hollywood to put different kinds of characters and perspectives in the mainstream. Pay to see Lion or Moonlight or Arrival or any other fantastic movie with a different lead than you normally see. Step into someone else’s point of view.
It’s time to challenge ourselves to be better. I’m still really really angry, but I’m doing okay. I’m lucky in a lot of ways. And I’m happy to keep waking up.