THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is a new movie overflowing with wisdom and honesty. Marginalizing men into mere sperm donors does not completely detoxify them. A family can't be perfected, but when you are part of it, it can be understood and appreciated. Its OK if the family you grew up in did not approach normality. There is nothing wrong with a marriage like the one you grew up in. All families straight or gay, male or female, it's all more the same than otherwise.
Everybody has a family story to tell that's full of wisdom. I grew up hearing about my Uncle Harry's discovery that there's no easy way for a man to say No to a predatory woman, especially one, like Tallulah Bankhead, clad in only a bottle a bourbon.
I come from the South, a land of storytellers. Fiction is necessary: Without it we don't know what it feels like to be anyone except yourself, and therefore we don't really know what we are like, what effect others have on us. We aren't whole and we aren't connected.
Shared misery can be as exhilarating as a runaway roller coaster. It is the misery experienced alone that sucks us ever downward. One of the functions of movies is to bring us together and cue us to share the joint feelings. We denizens of the human condition are all in it together, whether it be in Haiti, Chile, or even Washington. We can find the human condition in the movies.
Tiger Woods has been our untarnished hero, the most reliable of athletes, and the most conscientious of sons, fathers, and husbands. He was the man we all aspired to be. But it seems cruel for Mother Nature to bestow those gifts without the sense and judgment to enable guys to use those gifts wisely. A sheltered boy hears the banter of guy talk. He may not know that the huffing and puffing is part of the game, the show of male bonding, not to be taken literally.
Are we treacherous scorpions by nature or guileless frogs? Unlike frogs and scorpions, whatever our nature, we are not at the mercy of it. Just because we feel lust, does not mean we just jump the bones of whoever tickles our fancy; just because we feel anger, does not mean we get a free shot at whoever offends us. We have to keep in mind that we are always making choices. Of that, and that alone, we have no choice. We are capable of just about anything, so in contrast to Malcolm Gladwell, we must always think before we blink.