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Fighting and Fixing

October 30, 2012

About a month ago I got into a fight at a party. I didn’t walk away with a broken nose, a bruised fist or even a scratch, but I walked away crying and ashamed that my words couldn’t change the reality of the world, and with a battered ego.

Let me backtrack (sidenote, the following paragraph has nothing to do with my point or the story, so if you are pressed for time, just skip ahead): tonight, while religiously checking my social media, text messages, email, CNN, and NYTimes apps for news on Hurricane Sandy and what brutal beating she was giving to my friends and family, I was shopping for some flattering clothing for my body type at The Grove. This is only easy if you’re a model, and even then, it sucks. I hate shopping. I prefer to walk in to a store, push through every hanger methodically and efficiently, throwing items over my shoulder as I go and trying on clothes in no less than 5 minutes. If the line is too long and I was apprehensive about buying it anyway, I put it back and leave and usually go get a cookie or something. Because I hate shopping. I love being the new owner of never-before-worn apparel, but I hate shopping for it. So I did my research in the parking lot, I Googled “busty actresses” and took careful note of their [stylists’] wardrobe choices and set out looking for these specific items. I found one of them. And it was very expensive. And I bought it anyway. And I’ll probably keep the tags on and return it in two months. Because I’m poor. Anyway, I’ve digressed tremendously. One of the aforementioned “busty actresses” whose wardrobe I’d been studying was Christina Hendricks (obviously). So you can imagine my surprise when I sat down with my friend to dinner and who was sitting next to us, but…yeah, Christina Hendricks. I’m not starstruck and I’m not particularly surprised to ever see actors out to dinner, this is LA after all, but this was just too much. She was still up in my iPhone browser. Anyway, this is not the point nor does it have anything to do with my story I just felt the need to mention my serendipitious encounter. MOVING ON.

After dinner, my friend and I went to go see Argo, (this actually is the point of my story). For those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, you should probably go. It’s pretty rad. Also, my heart was racing the entire time, and that seldom happens, so take that as a cue. There will be no spoilers here, but it is about the Iranian Hostage Crisis that occurred between 1979-1981. The film opens with a description (that I may be paraphrasing slightly inaccurately here, and if so, I apologize, I simply don’t remember every detail of the beginning of the movie and haven’t been able to find the information elsewhere) of how Iran has been ruled by a monarchy for however many years and years and then there was a democratically elected President who kept the national resources restricted to national use and he was overthrown by the American government. The film goes on to discuss the hostage crisis surrounding the Revolution that occurred in 1979. After we left the movie I found myself frustrated. Two seats down from me, as the movie ended a woman said, quite audibly, “U. S. A. U. S.A!”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of pride for my country, a great deal, but what I got from this film was not a great sense of national pride, but a sense that we have been doing too much damage to too many people in the name of USA and oil and POWER. And this is where the fight I got in a month ago comes in to play:

I was at a BBQ/Pool Party with a few friends from work. The host was a French actor in town for a workshop and most of the guests were also International actors in town for the workshop. After a few glasses of wine, I felt confident enough to test out a bit of my rusty French. Just a few words, nothing offensive or highly conversational, but a few words thrown in to conversation with a man whom I thought was the most jovial, lighthearted French party-goer. I was wrong. He responded to my mediocre French with a very long sentence that I did not fully understand. I explained that I hadn’t spoken French in a long time and that I was unpracticed. He asked if I’d been to France and I responded that I had and it was very beautiful, that I loved his country and wanted to go back. To this he practically spat at me. The words, a mixture of French and English that I was able to decipher only because my understanding of French is better than my ability to speak, were something like, “Why would you love my country? Love your own country. Stay out of my country. Stay away from Europe. Americans have everything, you are a part of the empire, the empire of the world, don’t come pollute where I live so you can get ‘culture’, you’ve created your culture so live in it. Stay here.” It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I love every place I have been to. I love Wyoming and Costa Rica, Greece and Texas, England and New Jersey. Yes, I love New Jersey, you can quote me on it. It was then that the Cotes du Rhone kicked in and I launched in to what I lovingly refer to as my “lawyer” mode. I put my hand up and put it on his heart and I told him what I want to tell the entire world, “The luck that I have to have been born in to a society where what I am and what I have are secure and safe and I have every opportunity to succeed that I could ever want is just that: luck. I am immensely grateful for it, but it does not change my humanity. I am a human just as you are and I feel things and I want to explore and I want to learn and I want to understand. The actions of the United States government are made by men and women whose good intentions (and humanity) get wrapped up in politics and making sure that the POWER that we have had for so long and are so PETRIFIED to lose does not get taken away from us. So these good intentions turn in to decisions based on economics and energy and oil instead of humanity, and thus they become, most of the time, evil, empiric decisions. As an American citizen I want to be afforded the luxuries that I grew up with because I am used to them, but as a human, I want to mend the hearts of the people around the world to whom I have inadvertently caused pain.”

Well, I didn’t say all that, but I wish I did. I said parts of it and then I got up and went in to the kitchen, breathing heavily and sobbing. A few minutes later the Frenchman came in and apologized, kissed me once on each cheek and went on his way. I will never know how much of that conversation was understood, on either side, but I hope he knows that I mean him absolutely no harm and that I think he is a beautiful human being with a lot of resentment, just as I know that I am a beautiful human being who is far more naive than she will ever even begin to understand. The truth is, I’m not an economist, nor am I a historian or a humanitarian or a politician and I know very little about world affairs aside from the articles I read or the news I watch (which, I’ll be the first to admit, is limited), but I am a human being and I know that this country’s greed for oil has been the catalyst for far too much bloodshed and tension for one million lifetimes. I am a human being who wants to apologize, personally to all of the good people in these countries that we’ve ripped apart for our own good who are made to seem evil by our media. I want to reach out and hug them and say, “I know you are not a monster like they’d have us believe, you are just a person, just like me, only less lucky because I get to sit in my very large, clean apartment on top of a hill underneath the Hollywood sign and type this on a computer and you might get shot in the face tomorrow or blown up in a drone strike and I am so sorry. I am so sorry that I can’t fix this.” Because it’s time we fixed it. Four years ago I thought that by electing President Obama we could fix anything. Now, I think the world is very broken and I am not so naive as to think that one country or one man can fix the problems of the world. I think we all need to fix the world. And I think the Frenchmen and I should start.

 

PS: Say anything you want about the futility of the film industry, but without movies like Argo I wouldn’t be inspired to pen this or have discourse like this. If a movie can remind me that peace and change start on an individual level than that’s the best $12 I can spend. And its why I do what I do and strive to do further; to be a part of an industry that changes the way people think and feel and feel about what they think (on its best days…sure there’s a lot of crap out there, but I’m neither interested in nor am I talking about that). I could try to go into politics or humanitarian work or economics (okay, you’re right, never economics), but this I chose: telling stories that make people think and feel or think about what they feel.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2012 8:49 PM

    Oh Adria. I’m so glad to have read this.

  2. November 1, 2012 11:46 AM

    I know it was just a sidebar to your story, but I LOVE Christina Hendricks. I’m quite jealous.

    I think the sad reality for Americans is that the rest of the world dislikes you as a whole. I know that there are amazing individuals out there, like you and many other bloggers I’ve “met” – but as a nation the world carries a lot of resentment.

    Living in Canada, 45 mins north of Buffalo, I’ve grown up trying to differentiate myself from the people south of the border. When Canadians travel we wear Maple leafs on our bags so that people from other countries won’t confuse us with Americans – because we’re perceived as nicer. Americans have a long history of causing conflict with other nations and that’s just a tough place to be as an individual. You can’t carry the weight of your country all on your own. You’re not the bad guy, no need to go on an “apology tour.” We don’t blame YOU. There are just so many socio-political factors that go into how a country is precieved globally. But I will say this, you can simultaneously love your country but also appreciate and borrow from the cultures of others. I love British culture. I don’t talk with the accent, but I might enjoy a scone with clotted cream and tea every so often.

    • November 1, 2012 11:30 PM

      First of all, Allison, I knew you loved Christina Hendricks and that’s basically the only reason I included that story (seriously, just for you!). You’d be happy to know that she’s SUPER sweet and very normal.

      As for the rest of it, you’re right, it’s difficult to deal with all of the stigma that comes with being an American, however, I mostly feel fortunate for all that I’ve been able to do/have given my circumstances and, honestly, a lot of that is due to this country. However, I did tell people I was Canadian in Florence, just because I was so tired of all of the talk and lecturing on being American. It’s exhausting to have to constantly defend yourself, but then again, it could always be worse.

      • November 2, 2012 11:31 AM

        Sweet – I’m glad she’s actually a nice person, so not to shatter my dream image. lol. I need to know her fashion secrets – because I have the hardest time buying dresses!

        Yeah, everyone in the 1st world is fortunate for all the opportunities we have. Funny because when I’m abroad most people’s perception of Canada is that it’s really cold here. “Isn’t it really cold? I don’t think I could live somewhere so cold.” It’s funny. No one knows anything about our politics – just our weather.

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