Sunday, August 03, 2008

An Informed Decision

All of your no commenting on the last post leads me to believe that you either don't want to get into it, or that your agree with the single comment that was left. 

I will just tell you the story. It is a very short story, but of course, I will make it long. That's how I roll. So, I will tell you that I cannot handle historical tragedy. I have said for years how God was gracious to put me in a time when I did not have to worry that fatal disease might strike my family at any time, and when wars are fought in the desert and not in my homeland, where the nearest field might become a battlefield, when air conditioning and running water exists and women shave their legs. I just like being in the modern world. But mostly because there is less to fear. Childbirth, colds, and even traveling are things we rarely fear, where before they could often lead to death. I can't bear to think how common it must have been for mothers to lose their children, or even for children to lose their mothers. That is why movies like The Patriot and Titanic leave me feeling ill for days after I watch them. 

One might wonder then, why I would want to see John Adams. But, well, I did. And that was the movie that left me ill after seeing a portrayal of a man being tarred and feathered, something I have never really imagined before though I knew it had been done. I was trying to recover from that when I was confronted with a  smallpox epidemic that threatened the lives of our heroine and her children. At that point, I asked George if he liked the movie. My purpose was to see if I needed to leave the room, or if he too was noticing that the "critical acclaim" the movie received was undue. I was a little biased because I was not entertained; I was either bored or horrified, but never entertained. But sometimes a well done movie doesn't entertain me, but is still well done. However, even the boring political scenes lacked some set up so that I, someone with a minor in history (which sounds more impressive than it is, but nonetheless...) was struggling to figure out what these men were so incensed about. We were thrust into the middle of their story in 1770, and before we knew it there were shots fired at Lexington and Concord, but it was all very unclear what it was that lead to these events. Perhaps that is what it would have been like living in that time. With history behind us, we can draw up a timeline and place events on it, even if they happened all around New England, and see what led to the War. But if we were living during the time, it may have been difficult to know exactly what was going on or who to believe. It would have been confusing to be a colonial American without world wide web access or television news. But if you are going to do a movie based on the confusion of the time, you still need a little more clarity, at least just clarity that that is the point. Otherwise, if you are aiming for historical accuracy, a dramatization of the life of an American hero, then you you set up the story with facts so that we can understand this guys' world, his fears and feelings. This movie did not set the tension up for us that way. Mostly John Adams seemed confused, and the events seemed haphazard. And so all of my anxiety as a viewer was placed on the Adams children, and the poor British officer who was stripped down and had hot tar poured all over him. Anyway, I just didn't think it was well done. And I wondered if George felt the same way. But he realized that I had anxiety over the mother and children, just as I have anxiety over the mothers and children on the Titanic or in Life is Beautiful. So he thought I shouldn't have beat around the bush, as he called it, that I was placing the burden of decision on him, and that I should have just asked to turn it off. And to me, that would have been rude. Because if he likes the movie, I will just go somewhere else. But to go somewhere else and leave him to watch a horrible movie alone seems rude if I don't first ask if he is enjoying the horrible movie. 

This happens to us a lot. George has a really weird idea of what is polite. And I think he generally mistakes politeness for straightforwardness because he valuse straightforwardness more. And we all know that I think if nothing else, you should be polite. It gets us into all kinds of trouble. So to show George I have a good sense of humor about it, I decided to poll you all. But I suppose you sensed you were walking into a little bit of tension. But George thought it was a funny post, at least. And I thoroughly appreciated that Sarah saw it from my point of view! So now that you have the whole story, are you more inclined to say what you appreciate more? Straightforward or polite? I would especially like to hear from the straightforward folks. Give me insight into your strange little world ;) 

6 comments:

e.c. said...

Glad to hear the rest of the story, since I totally hijacked the conversation that you tried to start about it when y'all came over :) Anyways, I think I'm a weird bird b/c I often claim to value straightforwardness b/c there is nothing that drives me more batty than when I really want to know how someone feels about something, and they just give a vague answer that you're supposed to guess at. However, I also do this to my husband all the time, only instead of interpreting it as politeness(which I honestly think I do mean), he sometimes interprets it as manipulation, and gets frustrated at me for not just coming out and saying what it is that I want. Also, I do appreciate politeness more when the situation is more delicate and I would rather someone just phrase something so that I can read between the lines than to have to get into a potential landmine....does that make sense?

courtney said...

I have to say that I am more like George in these situations. I am just going to say, "I don't like this. But, if you want to finish it, please go ahead. I'll go read." But, I don't think that's totally impolite. Do you?

Abby said...

no courtney, that doesn't sound impolite at all. i just wouldn't know how to say it that way. that would never come to mind for me, i don't think. i don't know why, i just don't speak up. i guess it is kind of annoying when i see what i could've said! and elizabeth, i think george thinks it's manipulation sometimes too. that bugs me because it isn't my intent, but somehow it comes across that way to him. it is so weird that i know exactly what i want to say and it doesn't make sense to me how it could be misunderstood, and also that i can't ever think of any other way to say it. oh well!

Anonymous said...

Abby,
Definitely straightforward...Brian says I wouldn't even ask--I would just turn it off or leave. (And I am sure pouting would be involved if I just left). I don't typically waste politeness on Brian:)
Sara

abby said...

sara, you are hilarious!

Jandy said...

When I read your original post, my reaction was "I'd just say 'this is a crappy movie, I don't want to watch it'". But I was afraid you'd think I was rude. :) Also, I would probably only actually say that if I was with someone I knew would argue for the movie's quality and/or their enjoyment of it if they really wanted to keep watching it. Or someone who wouldn't mind having a differing opinion than mine. Of course, I also tend to assume that everyone would be like that...probably I shouldn't.

Although, if George thought it was a horrible movie too, couldn't he have made his own decision whether to keep watching or turn it off after you left?

Blog Archive