Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Living in Boston many years ago as I was working on my doctorate, I rather enjoyed going to some of the more “artsy” movies that, honestly, I’ve never found elsewhere. I’m sure they are available somewhere, and play in more locations that Boston, but I’ve just never found them. One of these movies was a depressing French Film called “La couleur bleue”, which translates to “The Color Blue”.
This must be one of the heaviest and most depressing films I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to give too much of it away (and I apologize if I do), but the premise of the movie as that a woman loses her husband and children in a car crash. It focuses on her struggles as she fights to recover both physically and emotionally from this trauma.
In one scene, she finds a family of rats in her closet, and cannot bring herself to kill them. Clearly a metaphor for her own family, she simply cannot bring another mother to this end, even if they are just rats. The movie had been so heavy up to that point that, when she finally steps back from the closet and closes the door, the audience laughed.
As odd as this response is, it shows that the human mind can only take so much tragedy, even in a film. We require rest to deal with bad things, some form of comedic relief even in just ninety minutes of darkness. It’s not uncommon, and we’ve all noticed it, that we can only follow bad news stories for so long before we simply turn away, readership slips, and news programs move on in the search of more advertising revenue in more widely read stories. In the Ukraine, the Russian invasion continues, and may be intensifying as the tide of war seems to be turning against the Ukraine and they lose ground to the invading forces, and yet the continuing tragedy of this war was overshadowed by the often comically absurd story of the Johnny Depp and Amber Herd divorce, featuring who pooped on what. The divorce proceedings are, no doubt, difficult for Depp and Herd and a personal tragedy to them, and yet, as they step back and close the closet door, we all get a good laugh.
I really don’t mean to cast blame here. It’s the nature of the human mind to seek out comic relief in the worst of times, and the nature of our capitalism to seek out higher readership and by extension more money. I laughed when I heard that my mother had died. This might sound unfeeling, but it was the culmination of a year of so much bad news and so many tragedies that I just couldn’t help myself. That my mother died was not funny in the least, but of course it had to happen this year. The timing was just, well, the timing was comic relief.
For children, this is probably doubly important. I grew up in a dark world, emotionally abused with very little praise or encouragement. This kind of environment creates mental defenses that I still struggle with to this day. No doubt, my crippling shyness in my teen years and into college is a defense to keep people away so I could not be hurt as I had been for so long. I’m likely single to this day because I missed the prime years of finding that special someone with whom to share my life, because I did not believe that I deserved to be with anybody or had the capability to find somebody who would be happy with me.
Today I tend to avoid the heavy movies. I don’t watch murder stories because I’ve seen too much of the real thing already. Rom-coms are kind of hard to avoid, but more often than not I feel lonelier after watching them than I did going into them. Honestly, I’ve kind of had it with movies that are supposed to “make you think” because there is just far too much to think about in the world already (and, yes, every night I read several news sources where I get all of the drama I need). Instead, I lean towards some of the cinematic classics, such as “Monsturd”, the heartwarming story of an eight-foot-tall piece of fecal matter that comes alive and starts to kill people. My friends will often tease me about my choices in movies, and rightly so. I’ve just seen and been through too much, and I’m at that point in my life when I honestly need comic relief.