I try to stay out of politics; I avoid the main stream media like the plague because I believe they do more to poison the mind than to help it grow. So when I attend family gatherings now and someone asks me about Trump or Hillary I have to shake my head and agree that either “yes, he’s so racist” or “totally, a vagina is not a good enough reason to vote for someone” in order to ensure I’m not slowed down on my way to the salami and fresh mozzarella. In this reactionary age of social media and instant communication even the most reverent or deeply personal of topics are simply boiled down by humanity’s lower nature into some kind of “us or them”, “black or white” political debate. We the sheeple just seem to line up on either side and fall in line, giving into to the separation, division and rage being prescribed to us by our relentlessly profit driven culture. So I smoke pot and watch movies instead. For some reason I signed up for a free trial of Starz this week and found a 1993 action movie starring Bruce Willis I hadn’t seen before. So, taking full advantage of my 7-days of free Starz movies and my love for good old fashioned Bruce Willis action, I clicked on Striking Distance and toked on my Shatter Tank.
As the movie progresses I have to keep renewing my buzz to stay focused because the camera work and sound quality are way behind their times even for twenty-three years ago. The overly sultry soundtrack makes it feel like an extended episode of Moonlighting and they just recast Cybil Shepard with Sarah Jessica Parker and Blue Moon Investigations was traded in for a riverboat. I keep wondering when Ms. Depesto is going to pop in with some poorly written joke. Suddenly and without warning about thirty minutes into the film Striking Distance takes a surprising turn into some more resonant territory, if only for a moment. Parker saves Willis’ life during a hostage situation on a riverboat. When they are back ashore Willis tells her she “did really good out there.” Then as she’s walking away he tells her “I ain’t never had a woman partner before.” She turns back to him with her 1993 hair and says “Neither have I” with just enough nonchalance to resonate in an era that was just beginning to embrace true equality, for women, gays, and all walks of life. In 1993 Clinton lifted the ban so homosexuals could serve openly in the Military for the first time and Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman ever to be appointed as a supreme court justice. That same year the Rodney King beating divided a country as riots took over city streets. We’ve come so far since then. We’ve come so far that Caitlin Jenner feels safe enough to, well, be Caitlin Jenner. Im proud of us. This throw away line of dialogue from Parker to Willis touched a cord. Maybe it’s Orlando, maybe it’s just late and I’m high, but I feel proud again to be a human, proud to be myself, to be one of you, to be one of us.
Sometimes it may seem like things are getting worse and worse out there, but the truth is just the opposite. Where we put our attention is as important as what we do with what we learn. When you get your news from the mainstream media you are asking to get it with a side of fear and an extra helping of darkness. Something like Orlando should be pulling us together, but instead it becomes about guns or gays or muslims or immigration and we let it pull us apart. Getting emotionally caught up in this shocking news is what the mainstream media wants, it is the very thing that perpetuates this kind of violent act. I’m not saying to put your head in the sand, I’m saying to thoughtfully curate the types of media you allow to filter through your mind. Thousands of amazing and compassionate and life giving things happened on the same day as Orland and nothing was reported on any of those. I for one will not put my attention on more violence and sadness and shock that I can't change just because the media says to. I choose to break free and see the hope and love that is all around me. The violence done to our minds by the media is worse than anything we can do with a gun because it's pervasive. Orlando is the latest tragedy to get past around and boiled down like some juicy internet meme as if it weren’t a very real thing where people died and lives were altered. I think about how we make the tragedy of others ammunition for our own beliefs and yet still I can break into a smile; because the truth is that things really are getting better and better, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the news. So maybe check out Striking Distance instead, because if you need some proof just compare this movie to anything Bruce Willis has made since then, and you’ll see that things are getting much much better indeed. Our power lies in living our lives in a way that makes us happy, and then letting that happiness spill out to those around us.
Speaking of doing what makes us happy, I inhale a massive toke of my Shatter Tank and then reach for the remote control when I notice I’m only six minutes from the end of this god awful flick. So I decide to stick it out. In the final reel Willis asks the killer “do you like to jump off bridges” as he throws him into the icy water and I think, “I’m going to throw myself off a bridge if you don’t wrap this thing up.” The only reason I’ve let the film play this long is because I’m stoned and I want to see if I’m right about the killer. Striking Distance doesn’t quite go the distance for me. They say a sign of genius is being able to hold two opposing thoughts in your mind at the same time. So I’m feeling pretty smart as the credits roll because I’m left thinking “I like Bruce Willis; but I hate Bruce Willis”. I’m trying to be smarter about my life choices, not just my movie choices. So I’m going to smarten up, cancel my free trial to Starz, rise above the duality of argument and separation that we layer on top of our human vulnerability and finally realize, like the genius my mom says I am, that it’s better to coexist than to not exist at all.
Maybe I’m just buzzed, but this turned out to be a pretty insightful evening barely paying attention to a movie.