And by carousel ride, I’m not referring lyrically to the online comment stream debates elsewhere (I’m thinking of those at Autostraddle and AfterEllen) between women who have seen the lesbian family film The Kids Are All Right, which opened in limited release this past weekend and is opening in wider release this Friday (theaters here), and those who haven’t. And won’t.
Though I am thinking of them.
An impressive and spirited number of those who haven’t seen the film are cocksure (d’oh!) they know precisely what it’s about and what cultural impact it will have, and are therefore both avoiding it like the plague and denouncing its writer-director. (“No cash for this trash!” one commenter declared; “Lisa Cholodenko is an idiot!” concluded another.)
To which I can only sigh and moan: My people, my people. That, and periodically jump on one of the up-and-down ostriches and try to talk sense into the cantankerous menagerie.
As one who not only saw the film but found it breathtakingly subversive — think New Yorker cover that takes you at least ten seconds to “get,” and then after you do you go, “Wow,” or “Ha!” and appreciate the value of art that much more (e.g., this recent one)– I am storing up observation after observation and look forward to doing up at least one post later this week reflecting (and inviting dialog) on what in the hell is up with our people and this issue that so many of us would be so, well, reactionary. (I am also feverishly trying to scratch out the time to finish transcribing and writing up my round-table interview with director Cholodenko and actor Bening).
My least favorite theory about this tempest-in-a-stewpot is that Fox News has polluted all of contemporary American culture, not just its viewers, such that reasoned debate based on valid, primary source evidence (which one has actually reviewed oneself) has become old hat, hopelessly too 20th century.
Another, maybe less dreary theory is that a lot of online debate has the subtlety of a big ole bar fight. Between anonymous people. Who have no prior or enduring relationship to one another. The sober ones, who root their objections in sincere, very valid concerns, are often inaudible above the din, or at risk of being knocked out and silenced by an errant swing.
Is the Jules character in The Kids Are All Right a kind of a white lesbian Bigger Thomas? Maybe, maybe not. But the question, I hope, indicates that one has to think a bit, and with a modicum of subtlety, to answer it. Also, just as one would have had to have read Native Son to pass judgment on the Bigger character and Richard Wright, one pretty much has to see the The Kids Are All Right to determine what one thinks about the Jules/Paul storyline and Lisa Cholodenko’s treatment of it.
Now, to the actual carousel ride of the post title! A sweet, 2 minute 37 second detour into the experience of a three and a half-year old boy! Hope it’s as calming to you as it is to me. [Apologies: it’s Baba’s first iPhone video, and I’m no videographer.] Minimal dialog, nice soundtrack. The one audible line uttered by my son I think does a good job of summing up a lot of the problem with the Kids debate amongst what I can only assume, perhaps wrongly, is a predominantly non-parent crowd: “Baba, your whole body is in the way of my face.”