Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bearclaw and the Red Filter

A phrase from a movie popped into my head a couple weeks ago and made me laugh.

Officer Dale Rigby.....

Whether that's the exact line or not, I don't know, but it's a voice over from Natural Born Killers, the voice over is done by Robert Downey Jr. during one of the reporting scenes on Mickey and Mallory's killing spree. It's intercut with Dale's partner saying in a very pathetic way, "all he wanted was a bear claw."

Let's start by saying I really hated this movie, I thought as a whole it sucked and wondered, like many others whether Oliver Stone was out of his friggin mind for making it. Since then I'm going with the out of his mind theory as everything after Platoon or JFK has not been very good.

Now while I thought the movie sucked, I did make it through the whole movie, and perhaps even watched it a second time (quite possibly in an altered conscious state). There are some things I liked about it, which is why I think the line popped into my head and the soundtrack was one of the best soundtracks ever in my opinion.

The part I liked, was that Stone tried to show that almost no one is what they appear to be on the surface. That everyone has an inner demon(s) of some sort inside of them, buried down by society and norms. Stone tried to show this by having his two protagonists being his most 'normal' or 'real' characters in the movie. Real in the sense that they didn't pretend to be something they were not. I happen to think that he made this point sloppily and the actors he chose for some of the main roles were incapable of delivering what he was hoping for. And with the subject matter made for a bit of a disaster of a movie.

The reason I'm remembering it is what I've referred to as the 'Red Filter' the color Stone shot characters when they were 'free' of their societal chains or moments where the film was showing a character's inner turmoil or hidden secrets. I remember Robert Downey Jr's character for much of the movie, and how at one point he let go of his control on things and picked up a gun and started shooting, releasing himself from the bonds of society. At least that's how I remember it and what I think Stone was going for in the movie. It bears repeating though due to the subject matter, I wasn't really a fan of the content or the story that he used to try and explain his point. The gratuitous violence was gross and disturbing. While I'm sure that was also part of the point, I thought it was exaggerated, in poor taste, and a crutch used in the absence of good writing.

I think a large number of people have a hidden side of their persona. The level of it varies, and I don't believe everyone hides things, but I believe that many do and I'm fascinated by it. Sometimes it's a deep dark secret no one knows about, sometimes it's a secret shared with a few people, and sometimes it's something that the holder isn't able to contain and it becomes public knowledge. There are more reasons then these three, but those are the ones off the top of my head. I don't think my fascination comes from what people hide. I think my interest comes in why they choose to do so. Sometimes I believe it's conscious and sometimes I believe it isn't.

When we choose to suppress or hide something it changes who we are, because how we choose to take this path shapes our personality. Call it a Freudian view on personality if you will. In my experience I've observed this in many people and sometimes wonder how much of my life has been affected by suppression or hiding things.

That's where "Officer Dale Rigby" comes in, while looking over my current state of mind and trying to understand what has gotten me here, this was the trigger in my mind for the next point of understanding. What have I suppressed in life, what have I hidden, what have I denied? These are the questions I ask myself. I seem to be uncovering a lot of them lately and it's a sobering feeling. I do believe some of it's functional. Emotionally at times I just couldn't accept things for what they were. I needed to suppress the truth to myself in order to proceed, as I just wasn't prepared to deal with the emotion, so I'd convince myself that what was real just wasn't true and create scenarios that fit.

The problem with denying the truth is there are feelings that were associated with those situations, that were extremely important to me that I denied as well. It shaped me going forward and by not understanding the truth, it inevitably influenced decisions further down the line in my life. Unfortunately one critical misstep can multiply expotentially when it's applied to life decisions creating more frustration as I come to realize how much influence that denial has factored into my current state.

If someone was to apply the red filter to me, it might show me screaming, pounding my head against the wall from frustration, or in a deep isolated sadness. I'm working through this and I am making good progress. I've come to terms with catalyst situations that I've emotionally denied and I am trying to understand what other decisions my denials influenced since then. I wish it was something that just happened a year or two ago, but it's a series of incidents in upwards of 15 years that I find myself trying to rectify. It's a bit difficult to fully understand how my thoughts were influenced going forward during that time, but I'm not looking to understand all the decisions. I accept that time is gone and there is nothing I can do to change the past, but I will gain an understanding of myself by accepting those mistakes and choices. Once I've determined who I am today I can start to come to an understanding of how I need to shape my life going forward.

It's funny one of the phrases, I work to live by is sometimes a banana peel is just a banana peel. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to it years ago and I would have faced the facts instead of trying to come up with complex scenarios. But then again, I suppose I could use it now as well, and just assume that an obscure movie phrase from a movie I hated is just that as well. Funny how that works.

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