22 March 2007

Touched

Get ready for some sidetracking, you guys. This post was going to be about one thing, and then it totally became something else. Rather than go back and change the beginning, I'll just leave my whole thought process on display.

It all started here...

Let's see... how to justify this on a music blog... Well, regular cast member Vanessa Williams had some big hits, and tonight's special guest Patti LuPone is a Broadway musical legend. That's reason enough for me to discuss "Ugly Betty!"

And there's so much worth discussing. I agree with all the scuttlebutt that this is a golden age of television. In the last decade or so, even amidst the crappy reality series and endless vehicles for "actors" like Pamela Anderson, television has proffered series after series that can rightfully be called art. Did you see the last episode of "Six Feet Under?" It's a beautiful, heartbreaking example of storytelling. Watching that show--and particularly that episdoe--expanded me as a person, much like an excellent piece of theater or an exceptional novel, because it unveiled something true about being alive. Wrapped up in "Six Feet Under's" best episodes were ruminations on how much we can help one another have a better time being human.
Even as we wound each other endlessly--and often unintentionally--we also can heal someone's wounds.

I think about the moment, for instance, in the final episode of the show when Claire offered to stay home with her mother instead of moving away to school. And her mother, Ruth, said no. No, don't stay here. And thanks to the writing, the acting, and the directing, I was able to see how much good both halves of that conversation did for those characters. For the mother to hear the daughter's offer to stay and the daughter to hear the mother's joy in her child's developing life.

I wouldn't have felt the depth of that moment--or understood the importance of gestures like that in my own life--if the series hadn't been so well constructed over dozens of episodes. I knew these women, and so I could feel the explosion of love in just a few sentences.

As a rule, I prefer small moments of love in art. They feel more real to me than those grand gestures, like Jack sinking into the ocean so Rose can live or even Juliet committing suicide. To me, those gigantic acts are the kind of moments that you can consciously perform because they *seem* like love. They seem like the things people in love are supposed to do, and they can be performed without much real feeling if you just understand our general cultural script of what romance and commitment are supposed to look like. (How do you think I "dated" girls in middle school? I just did what I'd figured out I was supposed to do.)

In my experience, the most honest love reveals itself in unconscious or barely expressed actions. Small things that come naturally, without an effort or a show, tell me love has sunk so deeply into someone's being that it has become a part of them. It's like how whenever I have good news, I always call my friends Laura and Stephanie. Because obviously if something good is happening to me, it means even more if I can share it with them.

Or take Andrew: When he walks by me on his way to get a glass or a fresh pair of socks or any mundane thing, he touches me. Even if he's on the phone, and I'm on the computer, and we're both doing things that don't involve the other, I'll still feel his fingers brush quickly across my shoulder or my waist. Just a quick touch as he moves through the room, like we're grounding each other. It's so small. It's so automatic. It's everything.

And you know what? Now that I've said that, I don't want to go into an analysis of "Ugly Betty." Suffice it to say that it's a work of art that can bring me around to gratitude for what I have in the real world.

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2 Comments:

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous AdamH said...

A sweet post. Love is the music in your heart, after all.

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Holtzwoman said...

Six Feet Under=best! show! ever!

 

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