Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Diving Bell and the Butterfly," thoughts by Andy

Let me start off by saying that I do not particularly care for movies that glorify cheating, or movies whose main character is a cheater. That said, I especially don't like such movies when the cheater cheats on someone with whom I cannot somehow find fault. What I'm getting at is that I did not care much for our "hero" in this film. I'm far less impressed with Bauby than my distinguished colleague.

Yes, it is incredible that someone wrote such an apparently powerful autobiography after being totally paralyzed. That fact is not lost on me. Before grad school, I worked in a hospital as a nursing assistant. I have taken care of many patients with varying mobilities. I've seen people struggle through rehab. I've even seen people make incredible changes in their lives after suffering a tragic accident or trial. The idea is not lost on me that someone can advance beyond oneself even when physical limitations are acutely present. I know about a young girl who raised funds for cancer research when she herself was dying. I'm aware of a guy who thrice tried to kill himself, and in so doing lost his sight, hearing, and horribly disfigured his face, and now he write inspirational books and has a well followed lecture circuit. I personally know of many teenagers who have answered the call at home and raise younger siblings or get jobs after school to help out with family bills. I get it. He blinked out a book. It is incredible. For that single accomplishment, I am inspired and in awe.

Bauby's a jerk though. And for that reason, I have a hard time feeling so inspired by his story. I don't care how remarkable you are, when your wife (ex?) comes to visit you in the hospital, and she's the only family you've got that comes to visit, and she brings your children so they can continue a relationship with you, and you take a phone call from your girlfriend that your wife has to translate where you tell your girlfriend through your wife "I wait everyday to see you," you are a schmuck. And yes, I know the previous sentence ran-on and was almost intelligible. I don't care that I don't pen a great tome like Bauby, and it's unlikely that I'm going to ever write a book. But I've never done that, and I'm pretty sure that alone makes me a better person that Bauby. I've done some bad things in my life, and I am certainly not a perfect person, but come-on.

He did an incredible thing by writing that book (although what else was he going to do - let's give a ton of credit to his help). But that to me is all that should be celebrated in his life - at least as far as he is depicted in the movie. Beyond the novel, he was a jerk to his wife and even his girlfriend, and if the movie is accurate, a total pig.

comments by Andy

1 comment:

Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

Yes, I completely agree that Bauby's depravity and despicable depths of apparent selfishness aren't made acceptable by his great, authorial feat (much like Roman Polanski shouldn't get a pass on his alleged crime — or was he already found guilty? — just because he's a gifted artist).

To be honest, I had altogether forgotten the fact that Bauby was so grossly unfaithful. This goes to show that I should have revisited this film with a fresh look before trying to write about it from memory.

I share Andy's venom for infidelity in movies (and in real life). I remember when I was 16 years old, I stormed out of "Indecent Proposal" (1993) — one of only two movies I've ever left during a screening — because [spoiler alert] Demi Moore's character accepts said proposal that is indeed indecent.

Finally, I thought Andy's examples of inspiring people were quite remarkable. Their feats were just as incredible — if not more so, in some cases — than Bauby's.