As Husband would not hesitate to tell you, I like to find and watch some really depressing movies. It’s not that I necessarily search them out, it’s just that they look like the most interesting movies when I’m perusing Netflix.
I started thinking about this after the movie I watched this morning about a woman who lived in Iran and was falsely accused of adultery and consequently stoned so that her husband could marry a 14 year old girl (which didn’t end up happening anyway). The movie is The Stoning of Saroya M if you’re interested.
Anyway, after I finished the movie, I was trying to figure out why I like movies like these so much, even though I walk away considerably more depressed than I was when I started. I think it’s because movies like these often depict the best and the worst of human nature. I think that is what makes them so interesting. I get to see people who have power abusing it, people who are oppressed live under it and try to make the best of it, people who are willing to stand up for themselves (and others) despite the consequences. Human nature is so complex and I think so many movies miss that. They try to simplify human behavior into either ridiculous heroics or sex, but there is SO much more to it than that.
I find that I am so inspired by those who defend themselves and other weaker individuals. It inspires me to do better, to be better, to stand up for individuals who cannot do so themselves. I also find that I am so disgusted by the actions of those in power that it pushes me to continually examine my actions and identify how my actions do or do not line up with what I claim to believe. With those movies, it’s more than just being entertained. I try to put myself in that position – what would I do if I was in her shoes? Would I make the same decisions? Would I make different decisions?
I think that our culture is one that is so much about being entertained that we forget about others whose lives revolve around just living – getting from day to day, supporting a family, trying to live with a domineering spouse who demands everything and gives nothing (except perhaps a beating). It’s easy to forget about people who aren’t free to live how they wish and do what they want. It’s easy to forget that there are governments that are so corrupt that they only care about the citizens with money and influence and forget about the rest of their people.
It also amazes me how much the good and the bad of humanity crosses cultures, religions, and distance. If there is one thing that binds us all together, it is the fact that we are ALL human and we are ALL capable of doing the same good and the same atrocious things. We are all capable of disregarding certain human lives and elevating the lives of others. It is amazing how we decide that some people are more important than others and that some people are expendable, good enough for the lowest of humans to use and abuse before throwing away.
I think that these kind of movies are important because it reminds us that if we don’t take care and watch our steps, we could become just like any of these people on the screen – even the detestable ones.