It seems simple (or simplistic) to assume that mimicking another’s easily recognizable quirks is of course a mockery. It is likely, or at least possible, that the parody is a tribute.
High Anxiety, homage or spoof? The send-ups of Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, are all over the top, of course. Mel Brooks is clearly piling on the Alfred Hitchcock tropes and making fun of them, but so lovingly that it could easily be read as an ironic tribute.
I said Camus, but perhaps Woody Allen was aiming for Hitchcock, too. His Irrational Manis among the best of his recent works; it’s dark and introspective. Infidelity, mortality, uncertainty in relationships, is usual fare for Allen it is always intensely personal. Here, as in Manhattan Murder Mystery he looks at characters who commit murder with indifference.
Hitchcock always served murder with a slice of irony. Nonchalance was the modus operandi of his villainous heroes.
The Ladykillers, famously with Sir Alec Guinness and directed in 1955 by Alexander Mackendrick, finds new life with a hilariously bumbling Tom Hanks under the direction of Coen Brothers. Like the Hitchcock homages mentioned, this film is completely sui generis. It’s originality is fueled by outstanding performances by Irma P. Hall, Hanks, and an ensemble of fools bent on a sketchy get-rich scheme.
Most of us either never learned, have forgotten or misremember most of the American story. Much of what we learned was likely from popular culture, at the movies not in the classroom.
Films of Indians warring cowboys or cavalry don’t do much to fill in the blanks missing in our knowledge. Generally the American cinema portrays a heroic expansion because as Americans we like to think of ourselves as good. The ideal of perfection is hard to attain, and John Wayne or Pistol Pete don’t give us an accurate picture.
History does not always paint a pretty picture
The impulse to be just is also the impulse of perfectibility that has made America great. We move towards the better, hoping for the best. We progress towards the ideal.We want to be fair; we aspire to decency. Our history is one of striving for the better for all our citizens.
We need to see the forging of the United States of America as a picture of struggle and achievement.
Musicals, even the well-researched like 1776, Hamilton, and for a bit of worldliness, Les Miz, can’t make historians of us anymore than the movies can. Even when they are rooted in events, their focus is not sufficient to make up for the deficiencies in our education.
What we do learn from both Hamilton and 1776 is that it took a lot of smart men (no women, but I digress) many months of hard work to come up with our America. The Constitution is an unprecedented document, built on enlightment values. It was written for democracy, with diplomacy and compromise.
The Constitution was not perfect, and America, ever striving, has added Amendments to the original. These Amendments improve on the freedoms granted its people, her citizens. Progress requires that we keep improving. It is, by definition, a moving forward.
As Americans we should be steeped in the spirit in which our country was founded.
There are times I am gripped by what feels like a lingual fantasy. I can hear the words of a proverb in what was once my native, or at least first, language in my head, but I cannot form them. I am unable to repeat them even though they are on the tip of my tongue.
Instead, I stammer and realize the inadequacy of the attempt.
Afflictions of the tongue
What was my mother tongue is lost to me in almost every way. It remains a shadow, a memory that I cannot express. These afflictions of the tongue sometimes feel like afflictions of the heart, too.
It saddens me that the words I should be able to say are stuck in my throat. i feel like I am dreaming words that are familiar, and the dream becomes a waking nightmare of regret.
The words I hear in my head sound as if they were under water. There is no ease in repetition. The harder I try to express them, the stucker I feel. Stuck in an adopted language, one in which I am quite adept; speaking the words of a country of choice, not birth, more fluently than I ever remember speaking the language of the country I left behind.
Nativists would argue against bi-lingualism. I, despite my ineptitude, am all for it. I would love to be able to speak well in both the languages to which I belong.
I miss the fluidity I once had in moving between two languages, the gift of easy expression.
Parenting has very little to do with the way your child turns out, so you can relax.
You don’t have that kind of influence. Parenting has a lot less to do with how and who we become as adults than people–especially parents– would like to think.
Growing up is not directly related to events in childhood. Offspring and those who raise them often lead separately parallel lives. Admit it, once they hit their teens, you’re pretty sure they’re from a different planet. And, of course, you know in your heart of hearts that they feel the same about you.
Who you are is not an outcome of who you were as a kid or what your parents did to influence you. Short of major traumas, and I acknowledge those can be horrific and can deeply affect how you view the world as a grown-up, childhood is just a passing phase.
As adults, we are looking to rectify the missteps our parents made; we image that we have suffered damages even when we had non-interventionist parents. This, as I said, is not to trivialize the real traumas some children are put through. I am speaking of adults whose parents were benevolent and caring.
Childhood is not a magic era, even when it seems ideal and placid. You know that because everyone you know complains. Your analyst knows it because s/he spends hours listening. Very few of us enjoyed life when we were teenagers, for example. Elementary school may have been a difficult period for some of us.
Those who raised us with the best of intentions are put to scrutiny and scorned for their efforts. Most of us were able to ignore their advice and guidance while living under their roof, yet we look back on our days in the family unit with displeasure.