So, like many people I’ve talked with, I’ve seen a couple of Netflix films recently that have gotten a lot of press. One of them is Roma, billed as a potential Oscar winner for best film, and given top ratings by many critics and also some viewers. I anticipated seeing it and, well, loving it. I didn’t. But this isn’t about movie reviews. It’s about perception. And why we make decisions about what we value in life.
I watched Roma with my brother. We both grew up as young children partially in an environment very similar to that depicted in the film, in a Latin country—minus all the dog excrement. The story seemed very familiar, very mundane, and very obvious in terms of our own experience embracing and caring for those who worked for the family in the home, and their devotion to us. We witnessed first-hand the close domestic relationships and the genuine support offered by both sides. It was not a new story for us. So our conversation about the film, albeit which had some beautiful cinematography, became about why we choose what we love at an authentic level, and how we are influenced by others. We wondered why this film was getting such strong reviews by so many. Why were people loving it so much? What was new and groundbreaking about the story, and how did the main character actually move people? I saw the main character like a leaf blowing in the wind, without position or opinion, without self-advocacy, without knowing how to move about the world without someone else telling her. And it frustrated me as it always does in films, with both male and female characters, seeing that lack of arc to empowerment.
In a time when we are desperate to globalize and embrace cultural diversity, we support any and all causes that might uplift the underdog, the disenfranchised, and show that we are embracing all peoples. In an era of resurfacing bigotry, racism and hatred, we want to give power to those who have been subjugated.
The question gets muddled then. Do we love a film for the film’s sake, or are we saying we love it to show our support for one of the scariest human crises we are facing in today’s world, a crisis that we thought we had transcended? These questions arose as I was reading the massively positive 5-star reviews to this film Roma. What are people really loving about it? So I had some conversations with those around me and while there were some who liked the film and saw some moving moments in it, I still didn’t hear anything that screamed Best Film.
In life, what do we value, and “follow,” from an authentic place within us, and what do we claim to value or follow in order to belong to something? The implications of this kind of decision-making is center to our lives. It affects family, religion, parenting, education, business, promotion, the arts, and policy in many domains. Are we really supporting that which reflects our deepest values?
I’m excited about 2019. I believe this year will reflect both the ongoing struggles we are being invited to transcend, and the potential for expanding our awareness and choices that feel right for us. And that brings us right back to knowing what we value, and standing for that.
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Wishing you a very insightful and Soulful 2019 and beyond…Melanie
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