I am always amazed how much screen time Bollywood movies donate to establishing and clarifying family relations of the film’s protagonist compared to the nil to absent mention of family connections in American movies.
The protagonist of an American made movie can be undergoing the direst and most despairing of circumstances and the screenplay makes no mention of mother, father, sister, or brother. Often very little time or explanation is given to the ex-spouse or ex-significant other, unless she or he is central to the plot.
Where Bollywood movies perhaps overdramatize the gifts and goodness of family, American theater emphasizes the need to break away and discover who one truly is.
American cinema and even the works of various literary genre’s have created a virtual reality of heroines and heroes who appear to survive just fine without human connections that might bar them from accomplishing the superhuman hijinks of thrillers they perform either on screen or the pages of a book.
But are the writers of these stories being honest?
Perhaps this is the life they know.
According to writer, dubbed the “…master of domestic drama…,”Antonya Nelson, “Others write what they know.” Antonya dedicates her words to what she knows, both the beautiful and ugly truth of it.
I applaud Antonya her answer, and the choice of not shirking away from who she is.
As a writer she cannot escape or absolve herself from doing so, because every human being knows the pain and drama, along with the love, discovery and healing that can and does emanate from family.
We may be brain dead idiots about super conductors and the intricacies of foreign policy with countries bordering the Siberian plains of the former USSR, but the politics of family is something with which all have in depth experience, even if is that of extricating one’s self from all to whom we are related.
And yet to attempt this betrays that from which we can never escape.
All of us are either someone’s son and daughter. Acknowledging this forms the first right of passage into the honesty of adulthood.
Crossing this threshold brings us home to the more somber truth–that the first months of our life began, with exiting the womb or being lifted from it. Rather it began most likely when two people came together, at least their egg and sperm.
And the owners of that egg and sperm from which we gestated and grew had a history. They lived, at least long enough to give rise to me, and you, all of us.
We come from each other.
This fact binds us to one another.
And it is against the canvas of your and my histories, that of our mothers and fathers, that we grow clear or sink into an emotional and philosophical swamp of mist and confusion concerning who we are, why the powers deemed life to thrive in us, and our purpose on this earth.
Without family and an understanding of the circumstances and connections that brought us here we have no place beginning point, no ending point. Our living drivels to nothing but a perpetual repetition of nothingness.
Like a dog chasing its take we grow weary and dizzy, never moving, always static–essentially stuck in one spot like a broken record reliving the same notes and melody that has become our life.
Human beings and stories demand this to survive, thrive, stimulate and motivate.
Our families give us definition, even if it is one we loathe.
Without it, all else succumbs to futility.
Tags: ambition, america, American cinema, Antonya Nelson, Bollywood, children, dreams, family, fantasy, hope, human relationships, individual, life, marriage, meaning, movies, plot, protagonist, purpose, spouse, story, thriller, wishes