Monday, May 03, 2004

My very own emoticon!
I am so excited. My insanely brilliant friend Mateo Burtch created it to celebrate and represent a certain period of my life that he was, frankly, never really part of, but may wish he was. Click here to see it.

The Merits of Kill Bill's 92 Personalities
Tonight, as part of a writers' group, I was subjected to a decade-old Oprah interview with a woman named Truddi who claimed (quite credibly, I'm afraid to say) to have 92 personalities as a coping mechanism for the horrific abuse she suffered as a child.

Naturally, in order to better understand Truddi and the made-for-tv movie about her life that was airing that evening on other ABC affiliates, Oprah needed to probe deeply into the twisted and psychotic torture Truddi's stepfather dealt her from the age of 2 on.

I knew I would hate watching this and I did. I have always hated any depiction or talk of child abuse. I simply cannot abide its existence.

And isn't that the way it should be? Shouldn't *everyone* loathe, abhor, reject and condemn any such instance?

Obviously the answer is yes. But the more complex question is what form that condemnation takes? Does a dramatization and books about and subsequent interviews with survivors of such horrors make it any less likely that they will occur again?

And on a related question, for years I drew a distinction between "real" and "fake" terrible stories. Oh, don't get me wrong. I have never had a high tolerance for hellish scenes or stories of any kind.
For years I've been served well by a basic rule of thumb: I walk out of any film during the second anal rape.

I also don't see horror films (exception: The Shining). And, truth be told, I don't really enjoy the experience of reading the many well-written novels depicting childhood evils given to me my wonderfully literate and completely sunny and optimistic mother-in-law.

Yet two of my favoritist favorist films are Blue Velvet and Pulp Fiction. Now what is up wit dat? Blue Velvet contains at least two rapes (albeit only one anal) and I have created at least one additional personality whose only job is to remember the basement scene in Pulp Fiction.

I have often waxed on, completely unoriginally, regarding the brilliance of the contrast between the happy sunny 50's society and its seamy underbelly in Blue Velvet and the sheer audacity of violence and over-the-top cartoon characterizations of Pulp Fiction.

(Sadly?) I find that tolerance and appreciation of incongruous over-the-top violence coming to an end with the 60 seconds I saw of Kill Bill the other night (my Bill was watching Kill Bill to prepare for Kill Bill II). In it that asian actress from Allie McBeale and Charlie's Angels was lecturing an audience while holding up a severed head--it was out of context, but I was given to understand that she had a hand in why head was now bodiless.

As I understand more and more that what we visualize and put our attention to in this world comes to fruition, I fret increasingly about visualizing creative new, untold horrors. Maybe what I'm saying is the same as people who dislike violent movies because they believe violence begets violence, but it feels different to me. It's more about where we focus energy, money, attention, time than it is about the ultimate product itself somehow.

So I'm relatively clear on this: I won't see Kill Bill or Kill Bill II and I don't really want anyone else to see it--although I'm sure many of you have. But what of Sybill, 92 Personalities and the like? Does it do harm to focus on what's (I presume) true and most vile in our socieity? Or is it better to focus on what we want to bring about, a world where children are treated with love and respect?

Can we we create the latter without acknowledging the former? I invite your comment...

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