Let's go to the movies..: Let's go see the stars
Fred and Ginger spinning madly....
Anything you can imagine...
Songs and romance.
Life is the dance.
Sitting in the darkness,
popcorn on your knee!
Give the maid the night off!
Warbucks: Turn the kitchen light off!
Grace and Warbucks: Let's go to the movies,
Annie, you and me!
It is a picture of the escape that movies are for people during the depression. I have been a regular movies attender all my life and for me, there is nothing like sitting in the dark and waiting for the movie to begin.
It is more than escape, however. The movies that I watch frequently stay with me and give me images and stories to reflect on as I live my life. Last Tuesday I saw the movie Detroit and it was literally the hardest movies I have ever sat through. And ultimately I am glad I did. It is a gut wrenching and graphic portrayal of the events that happened at the Algiers Motel in Detroit during the riots in 1967. It received mixed reviews because of the violence and I would have a hard time recommending it to anyone, but I am glad I saw it.
In 1967 I was living in Birmingham Michigan, a middle class suburb of Detroit and during that summer before college I was working at a dry cleaners. I was hardly aware of what was happening downtown except that the African American Woman, Ollie, who worked the presser at the dry cleaners was unable to come to work for a week. I look back now on my own blindness and unconsciousness to the terrible injustice and systemic racism that others experienced as I lived in my own little world.
Two weeks ago I saw The Glass Castle. Another movie that was hard to watch at times as it explored the difficult chldhood of Jeanette Walls whose parents were free spirited and neglectful. The movie moved back and forth in time as she came to terms - as an adult - with the reality of her childhood. At one point, she was dating an investment banker who encouraged her to walk away from her family, but she realized that she could not do that. She would deny herself.
This has all made me think about the whole business of what to do with the statues of the confederacy. It is really important for us to remember our history in its entirety. Some people are drawn to nostalgia and remembering the "good old days" and either forgetting or denying some of the sinful history and wounds of our past as individuals and as a country. There is always a voice that tells us that we and they should just "get over it." But the reality is that our history will continue to inform our present and we can understand and have compassion for ourselves and others when we remember where we have come from and what we have been through. For me, films, through the years, have been a way in which I have come to a deeper awareness about all kinds of issues and historical events. As I look back I can identify pivotal movies (like Platoon, Schindler's List, The Killing Fields, The Mission) that have impacted my worldview and made me think about things in a new way. They have been a source of illumination and awakening as they help me SEE.
And so, I will continue to go to the movies - not just to escape from life - but to better understand and appreciate life in all its beauty and complexity. I pray always for discernment as our country seeks to appropriately honor and remember past events and people.
Here is a blessing of Vision from Maxine Shonk:
May God bless you in your blindness
when it is impossible to see in spite of all your looking,
may God bless you with the ability to envision
a better world and to visualize a healed creation.
May ou be given the gift of prophecy as you share your vision with all who surround you.
And may you help others to see by your touch of compassion and your word of encouragement.
May the God of VISION bless you.