Saturday, 23 May 2009

My Left Motherfucking Foot

This is a movie, by the way. That's not the clearest poster. How's this?

Yeah, not much better, I know.
It's true though. It is a great, exhilarating movie. I know I had a point here at some stage.

First of all to just give this film my blessing and recommendation. It's as awesome as they say it is and worth it even if you're strongly averse to schmaltzy stuff - so is Christy Brown.

I'm not even going to attempt a proper synopsis because hey why the hell should I, but what this movie's essentially about is a person whose life other people found it easy to compromise on, and his relentless, fierce battle for equal treatment - for dignity.

It is about the triumph of the human spirit, but what's interesting is that the film seems to suggest Brown's greatest adversity is not his neurological-physical condition (near-complete quadriplegia) - he can overcome that, in all meaningful ways - but other people's reluctance to accept him as an equal. People lower their expectations of him in what they perceive as an act of kindness, and he's relegated to the fringes - interacted with out of "kindness" rather than out of respect.

Christy Brown is in a constant battle for the survival of his dignity, and that leaves him very little time for anything else. He's a bitter, egoistic bastard, not to put too fine a point in it, and while some people apparently find this makes him harder to relate to, I was somewhat surprised to find that for me it doesn't, not remotely.

Christy Brown's life revolves around Christy Brown. This isn't because he's a bad person. He cares deeply about those he loves, and is incredibly strongly principled - it's just that his principles assert that he deserves more than the bones other people are willing to benevolently throw him. If he doesn't fight viciously for what's his, he will not get it.

And Brown's struggle is a heroic one - I do think that's the right word here. The same way a moral obligation towards others sometimes justifies self-sacrifice or the risk of it, your moral obligation towards yourself sometimes justifies "sacrificing" others, in terms of preventing them from having an easy time.

It is this equivalization that is mainly on my mind. The movie is actually about quite a few other things, but the notion that what you owe yourself morally overweighs that which you feel you owe others is one that, while I entertain, I never give much credence to. Not giving yourself the opportunity to live life fully and unabashedly is evil, callous, hateful behaviour of the worst kind. Being nice is so overrated.

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