Things that Go BUMP in my Mind

Knitting, stitching, reading, gardening, cooking--I have no time for any of it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A confession.

I am into escapism. When it comes to entertainment--movies, plays, TV, and to some extent books--I don't want drama, or pathos, or sadness. I have not seen "Schindler's List" or "The Passion of the Christ," and frankly, I have no particular desire to. It's not that I think those movies, and others like them, are not important. It's more that the horror of the Holocaust is already real enough to me that I neither need nor want to see it depicted on film. (I do, however, want to see "Hotel Rwanda," in part because I'll watch Don Cheadle in just about anything.)

A big reason for my aversion to drama in film is that there is enough of it to worry about in real life. There is genocide in Sudan, there are orphaned children living in sewers in Mongolia, and God help you if you're a triplet in North Korea. Why do I need pretend pain when there is so much real pain in the world, and so little I can do about it?

For this reason, I had my misgivings when Chuck and I went to a play last night. It was a fundraiser for Andy's school--a production of "Topdog/Underdog," a Pulitzer-prize winning play about two brothers and their struggles with each other. The play culminates in one brother shooting the other to death (having already shot and killed his erstwhile lover). The circumstances leading to the shooting--an impoverished upbringing, neglectful/abusive parents, lack of education and basic skills, an inability (due to all of the above) to dealing appropriately with frustration and lack of self-esteem--were all things I see daily at work, in the death penalty cases I work on. And I know what would have happened if this play had been reality. The other brother would have been arrested (perhaps after shooting a cop in a vain attempt at escape, but probably not) and sent to trial with a barely competent, overworked and underfunded public defender. He would be sentenced to death and he would die, and no good wil have come out of it for anybody. I see it all the time. I don't need a pretend version. All the pretend version does is remind me of my basic helplessness, and really, do I need to pay a babysitter $35 dollars so I can be reminded of that? All I have to do is listen to NPR or watch the news, and those are both free.


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