Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Girl

The Girl at the local pub.

I took a week off my day job this summer to spend time with The Girl, and among other things I took her to a workshop at the Irish Film Institute. They showed the children, six to twelve, how to make their own movies, using flip-books and whirling pictures. She adored it, and when she emerged I told her I had another surprise for her: I was taking her to the cinema. She had only been to a real theatre a few times in her life, so this was a special occasion.

I had picked out a film I thought she would love: an Irish movie called A Shine of Rainbows, about a Irish boy who befriends a seal pup. It was the sweet children’s story I researched, but contained some tragic scenes when the boy’s mother died. As The Girl began sobbing in her seat, I realised that she’s never seen a sad movie before.

I have worked hard to allow her the innocence that many children these days are denied, but know she must be introduced to sadness at some point. Still, I comforted her, talked to her afterward, and gave her a week of fun, and she forgave me.

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As we all settled down after supper, I said I wanted to watch a Cary Grant movie, and that she was welcome to watch it with me.

“Is it scary?” Not that I know of, I said.

“Does it have wolves in it that suck your blood?”

Um ... no, I said. Did you see anything on the telly about –

“Does it have any dead angels?”

Sweetie, I said, have you been watching movies at your friends’ houses? I asked, thinking I might have to speak to the neighbours.

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I thought about writing something about the tenth anniversary of the day that I and my co-workers gathered around the television and watched the towers collapse like fast-forward candles. Certainly such remembrances fill the news here, so I can only imagine how gonzo the US media must be about this anniversary.

And yet .... I have studiously ignored such news, as I do my country’s two-and-a-half-year election season. I don’t want to see any of the movies made about September 11, with the real victims played by Hollywood actors. I don’t want to hear the politically powerful announce what the day means, or see choreographed rituals of grief. I don’t want to stick a “We Will Never Forget” link on a Facebook page and say I have honoured the dead. I respect that others find value in these public commemorations, but I am not obliged to.

You see, I actually saw these things happen. I don’t want a media campaign to slowly superimpose its own meaning over that genuine moment, until my own memories are replaced.

2 comments:

Kelli said...

Another lovely post. Coincidentally, my thirteen-year old daughter and I watched a Shine of Rainbows last night - lovely movie. I feel as you do about the 9/11 commemoration here. I didn't have anything to add... There is a sweet "Daily Show" clip floating around, though, that I appreciated. John Stewart seems to always get it right - his comments during the first show after 9/11 were about grief - and love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb3gInJAY6g.

Brian Kaller said...

Kelli,

Thank you, and for the clip as well.