What do you get when you mix a pandemic with a forced recovery period from a traumatic traffic accident?
You get time to watch a lot of movies.
After my follow up doctor’s appointment and subsequent physical therapy last week, I have been given very specific instructions regarding exercises I should be doing to help regain the complete use of my right arm. The best way to accomplish this has been, apparently, to do so in front of the TV. Instead of binge watching shows, though, I’ve opted for watching movies since it makes for more time to work out the atrophied muscles because it commits me to at least ninety minutes.
Somehow Shannon and I recently got on a newspaper-related movie kick and watched Richard Jewell (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and All the President’s Men (The Washington Post) and the Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 2015: Spotlight (The Boston Globe). I can only assume that this an indirect and subconscious result from my frustration rooted in today’s political media and saturation of misleading information.
Spotlight‘s events took place almost twenty years ago, but it’s a stark reminder of how the media (newspapers) used to work to be in service to their readers and, at times, the world. The written word had to be crafted carefully since the concept of going to print meant something compared to now in the age of typos, blogs, and non-stop “breaking news” cycles.
The topic it tackles is heady stuff: child abuse at the hands of priests in Boston. The news team, similar to the team in All the President’s Men, saw the bigger picture: it’s not just about a horrible circumstance; it’s about corruption within a powerful system. While I was aware of the incidents regarding the story in Boston and what it exposed in the early 2000s, I wasn’t fully informed in how far reaching the implications were regarding the Catholic Church until I watched this movie.
You see, I (similar to some of the reporters in the film) was raised Roman Catholic as a child. I remember church and Sunday school and even a stint for a year or so in a Catholic private school. Somewhere photos exist of me going to my first Holy Communion on crutches due to my having recently broken and ankle. Like many Gen Xers, the concept of organized religion and its offerings lost appeal to me the more I read and educated myself about the world and history.
Now, to be clear, I don’t begrudge people who maintain their faith. We all need it on some level whether it be in a deity or the universe or a philosophy. Personal faith is powerful. However, movies like Spotlight remind me that any organization is susceptible to corruption – even the “House of God”. Human beings are endowed with the ability to think freely and to be pragmatic. We should always perpetually question ANYTHING we don’t fully understand. That’s how we learn and grow individually and as a society.
Faith is powerful. Blind faith is dangerous.
So did I like Spotlight? Absolutely. It was well acted, solidly paced, and left me thinking about my own journeys in the realm of religion. More importantly, it told the story of people brave enough to clearly question the status quo when faced with the adversity of how tragic and horrible the truth could be.
We need that level of powerful bravery again in today’s political climate, but too many people aren’t willing to listen anymore. However, I think we’ll get back there again someday.
I have faith.
LIST OF BEST PICTURES I’VE SEEN
1939 Gone with the Wind
1945 The Lost Weekend
1947 Gentleman’s Agreement
1950 All About Eve
1962 Lawrence of Arabia
1964 My Fair Lady
1965 The Sound of Music
1971 The French Connection
1972 The Godfather
1973 The Sting
1974 The Godfather Part II
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1988 Rain Man
1990 Dances with Wolves
1991 The Silence of the Lambs
1993 Schindler’s List
1994 Forrest Gump
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1999 American Beauty
2001 A Beautiful Mind
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Million Dollar Baby
2006 The Departed
2007 No Country for Old Men
2008 Slumdog Millionaire
2010 The King’s Speech
2011 The Artist
2014 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2018 Green Book