Monday, April 8, 2013

We Must Always Appreciate "2 Thumbs Up" -- At Any Price

At Any Price --2 Thumbs Up 

Last Thursday we lost Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize winning film critic to a battle with cancer.  So is this of social and clinical significance?   The answer is yes, but before I attempt to discuss his legacy as socially and clinically relevant I want to share an experience that led me to think about his meaning to the contemporary American psyche. 

Over the weekend I saw the film At Any Price. This film is what one might call
an artform that might very well be dying. No 3D glasses, but a story of family and tradition. A no-gimics-take-'em-or-leave-'em-but-they-are-family-people. The end is somewhat haunting and dark. Can you like a protagonist who might have done a wrongful act, a life changing sin against another?  Can you like the lead that sits in a church after doing the unthinkable, looking at the victim's family in the eye?  There could have been a feel good ending in the family systemic struggle by using art and film vs. reality and Bowenian explorations and multi-generational transmittions.  The film avoided the former --the gimmicks of Hollywood by avoiding the sure thing of NASCAR glory.  The latter would be a cinematic gamble and not easily understood.  However, the culturally and mindful direction of Ramin Bahrania allows us to go through this journey and become a fool for loving these people.  Why?  Because they are flawed, human, and there is true define of family that is troubled. In some way we all understand this. As diverse as America is, we all understand our own trans-cultural inheritance that is passed down from within our previous generations. So, we can be forgiving when we see such transgressions because each generation has them.  And if you don't think you have generational "gifts" then you need to go to a family therapist to understand this.  If not, then expect to pass the "gifts" down to your community's youth, or your own children. Now, on a side bar -- for the clinicians and psychologists out there: What would you do if one of the Whipple family members walks into your office?  They will eventually need to process these secrets and generational gifts.  Even if they come to your office they will not be so forthcoming with sharing such family gifts.
In this idea of multi-generational "gifts" Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers has a great section Legacy, Chapter 6, Harlin, Kentucky that focuses on the Culture of Honor.  This cultural theme is throughout the movie.  Life choices are made because of generational patterns. This is not cinema.  This is real life.  So, what is Roger Ebert's connection to all this?

That might be an answer that you might have to explore for yourselves; however, he was a gatekeeper to our cultural cinematic mythology.  His critical execution to this film countered other critics and he pulled some key social relevance from this movie that many missed.  A historian of our contemporary mythos is crucial as we as humans are storytellers. But at times we need the nommo to help the griot fully achieve the message that was intended from the art of art.  So, I caught this gem as a clinical psychologist.  I am not sure how to bring this gem to the masses in a simplified ease.  Mr. Ebert's historic devotion to reviews (and of this film) was often an intelligent communal engagement that allowed us to be engaged with our art, culture, lives and psyche. And for that he deserves "2 thumbs up!"

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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