I went to see The Help by Kathryn Stockett, over the weekend with a friend. Great movie based on a great book about a devastating American culture. As my friend and I discussed our thoughts about the movie, book and all things girl talk, it hit me why the book is better.
Even though the book is fiction, its part of the memoir genre--based on a real life story, and no such confrontations happened in the real life, so those "scenes" from the screen were not on the page.
We want them to be real, and Hollywood is so artistically good at exploiting our desires. We want to have the last, best greatest word, and reduce our enemies to shiveringly shaking piles of tears. We play those scenes out in our imagination and so when it plays out onto the big screen, it's a yeah, you tell 'em, right on, kind of moment--it seems so powerful.
It's the "take this" moment of redemption. But it's not real.
In the real world, nice guys do finish last but without the last word. Satisfaction comes at times in silence, without audience or desired outcome. Battles can be won and moral victory achieved but not celebrated and often with a price. That's real.
Our egos often call out for our rightness to be acknowledged, especially in conflict--but well, such a publicly affirming spectacle is not real.
So, is it wrong to wish for a life that fits our well written script, for imagination to take hold and indulge in how we want these moments to sound like? What's the harm in just playing it out in our mind?
Is it so bad to want it to be real?
Well, as normal as it is for me, I think too much of my dappling into the fertile fantasy pool of my last best word is a dangerous trap. The risk of ego inflation aside, how much wasted energy do I invest in that which is not real? Do my fantasy scripts ever lead me to sound, healthy solutions? (ahem, no--not yet)
In the movie, these scenes work, in part because those who have the stunning moments of silencing their enemies are really the ones in the right, confronting the one's in the wrong. Simple. But such clear lines of right and wrong are not really real either, are they? Life is more complicated and conflict less clear cut.
At the end of the day, this desire is really for vengeance. You hurt/humiliate/devastate me and here it comes back--faster, harder and much more clever--with cameras rolling.
It seems fair, you do something wrong and I say something oh so right.
Real redemption is a restoration to a whole, healing place. Redemption is when we work to and want to leave people better than we found them, and not in a pile of what we perceive they have coming.
Real redemption is slow, often partial or elusive and does not garner much whoops and applause. At least here on this planet. There seems to be rejoicing in the heavens however, when we get real.
Redemption, of which there is much in the book is not the same as vengeance. Vengeance is so tempting, seems so just, makes us happy--but it's not real.