‘If something offends you, go do something else.’
I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my husband about ‘Passengers’, a film which has caused a bit of a fuss over the moral dubiousness of its plotline. I was genuinely excited about this movie when the trailers first surfaced in June, but when it became apparent that what this movie isn’t either pleasant or comfortable in terms of how the two leads end up together? I pretty much lost interest. The biggest problem however for me, on considered thought, was the fact that this movie intentionally skirts those real issues in all of the promotional material, and it was only when the first indignant reviews emerged that it became apparent what you were really buying into. Once that becomes unavoidably apparent? Well, it is obvious that some people didn’t care about anything else except the bad things.
My husband has very rationally and logically pointed out that if you know about the moral duplicity of the plot? It could make things more interesting, and not less so, and this is a very fair point. The problem is however that with the year that’s just gone, I suspect many people went to see this movie in the hope it would be sunshine and rainbows, and not to be metaphorically kicked in the genitalia. As a result, this whole endeavour also suffered as a result of circumstance. However, if your interest is the moral complexity of how to deal with isolation and loneliness? I suspect this movie could be right up your street. In discussion over this, my husband pulled up ‘While you Were Sleeping’ as a perfect example of a movie that, like it or not, is really rather morally dubious, but won’t see people bemoaning Sandra Bullock pretending to be an unconscious man’s fiancee.
For my husband, the reaction to this whole debacle simply amplifies the depressing ‘echo chamber’ effect of the Internet. That revolves around a subset of people who decide to hate something based solely on exploitation or received moral indignation and doesn’t take at all into consideration the fact the focus of their ire in this case is a) entertainment and b) fiction. Because it is art there should be no need for such a reaction: if you don’t like it, then you can simply ignore the thing and move on. Those who somehow feel better about being part of the lynching party not simply over movies but in every aspect of modern life are genuinely scary, and it is becoming increasingly galling when these flash-points end up splitting up friendships and causing people to threaten others livelihoods or existence. Mostly, this particular episode has been a salutatory lesson for me, to remind him and myself that the only way all this works is when you listen to each other, and learn from contrary viewpoints.
I’m still not spending my cinema money on this however, that will be going on Rogue One.
What happens next for me in personal terms is becoming increasingly better defined as time goes on. Maintaining an open mind needs to be top of my list: engaging, not arguing, making people think and not imposing points of view on others. It isn’t about being right, and never will be, it is far more important to understand WHY and look to yourself as a potential source of change before expecting anybody else to do the same.
I want to talk with you in 2017 and very definitely not at you, and that will need some work.