We have gotten used to the idea that our society condemns anything that’s different, strange, unusual, that it condones any behaviour ruled by something other than the social impositions of our century. But when did we start accepting the unthinkable, nodding at the discrimination and alienation of people based only on what makes them different?
When we watch a movie and the hero is an autistic man who overcomes his sickness by getting a job, a bullied child with tourette’s who starts a dance squad, a boy with a girly voice who gets to sing at the Superbowl, we feel emotional and happy that good things can happen even to the underdog. Then once everyone’s out of the theater, a guy picks on a woman because of her chin hair, a group of girls start laughing at a lady because all she can afford are hand-me-downs or clothes from Walmart, a man with a stutter isn’t hired because he annoys the staff or someone with osteoporosis gets the nickname Sir limps-a-lot because it’s funny. That “hairy woman” has hormonal problems and would rather feed her children than get expensive laser treatment, that lady is paying for her parents’ medication and hasn’t been on a single vacation for years to make sure all her money goes to caring for her family, that man started stuttering after receiving a shock watching his son get hit by a bus and hasn’t been able to heal since, and that person with osteoporosis used to be a champion runner, but their current illness has them swallowing pills by the dozen hoping the torture would finally end. Maybe it’s the background music carefully selected in films that activate the waterworks, maybe people really feel moved by the stories on screen, however where does all the compassion go when real life comes knocking, when the people who really need support and empathy end up receiving all the blows? Yes that handsome man is dating a fat girl, and he likes it. That boy with all the scars got his puppy out of a fire, that woman was raped and hasn’t been able to smile for the past 4 years, that young girl with the double chin has a nutritionist mother who feeds her very well, but she’s diabetic and her metabolism is too slow and that “geek” who never got a date dreams daily of finding the cure for cancer. This goes beyond stereotypical situations, this happens every day to people struggling to stay positive and get through life as wholly as they can, but they weren’t in a movie, they might not get prince charming or their dream job because in real life, nobody goes “awww”, not enough root for them to succeed but instead bash all their efforts because they don’t fit the carefully drawn molds the media has voluntarily helped shape. Why would they let the “imperfect” ones win when they’ve spent so much time and effort becoming “perfect”? Whose ego would allow to condescend?
They say life imitates art, but isn’t cinema considered the 7th form of art? Then why isn’t everyone cheering for the misfits, the marginals and the unfortunate ones that life didn’t spoil? Why is it our hearts beat faster when we’re in a dark room and nobody knows how deeply we can feel?