There are a variety of people I’m quite afraid of sounding like when I write.
One of those stereotypes is the right-wing type; the “White straight men are so opressed” stereotype; the “through reverse discrimination, people in the majority actually have it more difficult than everybody else” stereotype.
In many ways I am so very lucky by most of my demographic details. My life would have been much more complicated if I’d been born a woman, born an ethnic minority, born gay, etc.
Having made that disclaimer, I’d like to cruise on to the thing that is on my mind tonight. That thing is this:
We do a good job of recognizing and discussing the challenges and hardships associated with a variety of groups. We don’t do as well in recognizing the hardships associated with other groups.
More specifically: we do a really amazing job of recognizing the rites of passage that adolescents go through. We might not say anything very wise, helpful, or interesting in formats like films. But at least movies like American Pie, The Breakfast Club, and countless others recognizing that those passages exist.
Yesterday, my kids were watching the Steve Martin remake of Cheaper by the Dozen. It got me to thinking about many of the movies that Martin made in the decade before. It’s easy to write off movies like Father of the Bride, L.A. Story, Parenthood etc., as chick flicks. (Sorry, I know how sexist the term is… but it’s just such a perfect term.)
For my money, it’s a mistake to write them off that way. I’d go so far as to argue that Steve Martin has done more for family values than Newt Gingrich ever will. (Obviously, at least as much credit ought to go to the writers who created those works. But I think ol’ Stevie wrote at least some of them.)
These are real explorations in what it is to be a real grown up. They are goofy and silly sometimes. But there is something real and legitimate going on underneath them. One of those real things is the idea that it’s hard, almost heroic, just to be a good person and to do the right thing, day-in and day out.
And then I saw Rocky Balboa tonight. Holy cow! What a great movie! The wierd thing, is I think boxing is kind-of dumb. And I didn’t particularly love the other Rocky movies. In fact, even the latest could have scrunched the whole boxing thing down to like two minutes and I would have enjoyed it just as much.
That movie sent a counter cultural message. I’d never even noticed the message before it was countering before. But it seems like maybe we’re told a pretty horrible thing, in this society:
Once you hit your adult years, it’s time to stop. Just stop. Stop becoming and growing. Your future was not fixed once. Your nature was mallable once. But all that unknown is in the past. Now it’s time to settle in to the same course you’ve been aiming at. It’s time to stop writing your script and start following somebody else’s.
I can’t bring myself to call it middle-aged. I’ll settle for the euphanism post-young adult, or pya for short. I suppose the tension of pya is that people come to depend on us. Whatever we risks we take are now shared by others. It’s one thing for me to jeapordize my own sense of security as an adolescent. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to risk others.
I don’t know if I’m contradicting myself, or writing in circles, or just developing the same, consistent thought. I guess the thing I’m trying to say is that either way is an act of heroism; either submitting your desires for family or risking everything for family.
It seems like we so often potray both instead as an act of cowardice. Either we’ve sold our souls to the man or we’ve recklessly embarked on a midlife crisis…