Posts Tagged ‘ Taking Chance ’

Temple Grandin – Connection

She seemed to relate to – understand, feel comfortable with – cows better than people; and I am sure that seems strange to most “normal folk”. She didn’t seem to have a close, personal relationship with anyone; and this seems to be a characteristic of autistics. But, I’m not so sure it isn’t also a characteristic of this modern technological age.

This technology that is said to bring people closer together. Really? Walk into a restaurant and observe how many people are on their “device” (I guess “cell phone” is already passé?). Maybe it’s the ability to be physically close to someone at the table, and “electronically close” to someone who isn’t? Is this the much touted closeness? Close to everybody, so close to nobody. What kind of connection is that? A distant one, at best.

Some people I know seem to be happiest when they are merely around other people, like at a shopping mall, a bar, even at a church service (see my posting, “The Edmonds Group”). And the corollary is also true: these same people can’t stand to be by themselves. So, they absolutely love the toys that keep them “front and center” (now, that term is passé), or “in the face” (a little more current, eh?) of others. It is no longer a matter of having only six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon (“Taking Chance” is one of my most favorite movies); it is, rather, a matter of how many “Facebook Friends” you have, or how people you follow on Twitter.

Do I need to say that I wish my cell phone did only three things? One, make and receive phone calls (the call screening ability I absolutely love). Two, send and receive text messages. Three, serve as my alarm clock (I wish I could program more than six alarms). No graphics, no internet, no photos, no games. And, I probably use the “silence” switch more than anything else.

My wife no longer asks how a certain feature works on her iPhone because she is tired of hearing me say, “I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s your phone, you figure it out.” I think she has the local Apple Store on speed dial.

In other words, what does “connect” or “connection” mean, in this modern social context? What value are hundreds, if not thousands of names stored in some computer? Will any of them care when you no longer answer your phone? Will any of them even notice?

In “It’s a Wonderful Life” (those of you who know me, knew this was coming), James Stewart discovers at the very end of the movie that, for the most part, everyone in the town of Bedford Falls was willing to dig into their pockets for whatever they could give him. Now, THOSE are connections worth having (and in the days of wall-mounted, hand-crank telephones, too).

I am halfway through the Patrick O’Brian series on Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin – the second time. The first time I read the 21 volumes, I just enjoyed the story. This time, I am trying to understand what it is about Jack and Stephen that I find so attractive. Since I have served on slightly more modern naval vessels (and the USS Nimitz is slightly bigger than anything Jack was in), I know in my soul-of-souls that I am most grateful for the, shall we say, “amenities” of ships today. So, it’s not that I wish I had been born in 18th century England (or, the US). Socially, I would have been one of those we now call “cannon fodder”; which is not very attractive, either.

What I believe makes me want to read the roughly 6,000 pages (twice) is the friendship that they enjoyed. I cannot think of any other characters, anywhere in literature, who connected so well. I know I have certainly not connected with anyone so well. While the story is a historical novel, perhaps the friendship is also fiction? Of course. But, is it also possible?

Temple Grandin didn’t seem to care whether she connected with people or not (please note that everything I know about Dr Grandin I know from the HBO movie, and her website). Do others more in the “mainstream” of society actually connect any better, or are they merely fooling themselves by accumulating connections (oops, contacts).

Yep, human beings are social animals, but then, so are cows. Do we, as a species, actually form bonds any more significant than other mammals? (Ask your cat – not your dog. You know the joke about shutting your dog in a closet for three days, or shutting your wife in a closet for three days? Which one will be happy to see you?) The need for social interaction is in our DNA, but I don’t think we’re very good at it. More toys don’t seem to be helping us connect.

There is nothing new under the sun?

Really? Whoever said that* hasn’t seen the latest to come out of Hollywood.

I can’t say that I cared about either entertainers or pianos when I was growing up; I was mostly into whatever my parents chose for evening tv. Having been out of my parents’ house for ages now, I not only don’t watch tv, I seldom go to movies, and I certainly have never given Liberace a second thought.

So, I really don’t care about the new movie about him. I would not likely have wasted any time at all watching it, even if the actors weren’t no-names, which they now are in my book.

But, while other institutions, like the military and universities and large corporations have had to implement a governmental policy that their composition reflect that of society (can you tell I grew up during the 60s?), Hollywood (specifically the film industry, but also the entertainment industry in general) has pretty much gone its own way. Until recently, when it became popular to pay attention to what the celebrities were saying. Now, thanks to the crowing of actors of every stripe (most abysmally bad at their chosen professions), society has adopted a policy of reflecting Hollywood’s values. If there was ever a more blatant example of the tail wagging the dog, I cannot, at the moment, think of it.

Consequently, the irony of the film studios refusing to distribute this movie in the USA about a ho-hum piano player because the movie portrays a lifestyle that really is not palatable to the 97% of us that might buy tickets, is, as the title of this commentary suggests, something that really is new.

What is also new is that internet technology provides a lot more entertainment than Hollywood ever did. Oh, Hollywood has always been very good at cranking out movies, as a one-time movie theater projectionist (back in the days of carbon rods and changing reels), I saw more than my fair share of pure, unadulterated crap. Far more than my fair share. But, if you wanted the movie experience, you were at the mercy of what the local theater was showing. And, growing up in the Midwest, there was precious little else available.

Of course, now, you can have a “tv” screen in your living room that your neighbors can easily watch from across the street, and the programming is beyond comprehension. A sign of the times: “How do you know when you have enough channels? When you can’t find anything to watch.” Har-dee-har-har-har. The joke may be on John and Jane Doe; but they are not spending their dollars on Hollywood entertainment, they are spending it elsewhere. They have options, and they are taking full advantage of them.

I used to know people who went to the movies “all the time”; for a few, it was a weekly ritual. I don’t know anybody now who goes to the theater without first going on line to see what’s playing and where and what the ticket price is. When I do see a movie, it is at a $3 theater, and it is a movie I have researched; sometimes for hours. As to my home video library, I have such titles as “The Way” and “For Greater Glory” and “Taking Chance” (none of those were produced and distributed by a major Hollywood studio).

As far as I’m concerned, most of the film coming out of Hollywood should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

* Ecclesiastes 1:9