Thursday, June 5, 2008

Marriage and the Freedom to Eat Porridge (Movie Moment, 8: Yojimbo)

[I came home a couple weeks ago to find that Donna had left three geraniums on my landing, to supplement the ones I'd wintered in the cold basement, while they straggle back to life. I planted them in the same pots. In the slant of evening sun, the white one turned into light.]

The California Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear the anti-gay-marriage appeals, so weddings will begin at 5:01 p.m. on June 16.

D. and her woman partner have been together for almost 26 years, and they're now launching into full wedding planning. I'm excited!
(I want them to plan to get married the same time and place as Mr. Sulu, aka George Takei, and his fiance, but I doubt they will take this into consideration.)

I was hoping our state would beat CA to the punch, so I could take the city bus to the wedding. But now it's a pilgrimage, a trek, which is better.

The struggle for justice makes marriage--entering into a bourgeois relationship with the State--into a radical romantic event.
One day same-sex marriage will be just as boring as boy-girl marriage, like women suffrage in America. People will have forgotten what it's like without the equal right to be legally normal.

Only us old folk will remember the stupidities of how it used to be.
I think of our mother's obituary, for instance. In it, we referred to S. as our mother's "daughter-out-law," which is what our mother always called her.

The liberal local paper refused to print it. Turns out it wasn't PC enough. They said it might offend people who didn't realize it wasn't meant offensively.

This is the sort of tangled thinking discrimination spawns. After all, our species does best with literal facts. And yet people who face discrimination sometimes come up with creative round-about responses.
This scrambles the literal bureaucratic mind, causing it to protect you from yourself by declaring that you can't call yourself what you like because it might offend people like you...

In fact, I don't know why majority U.S. conservatives haven't figured out the best way to neutralize any "outsider" culture is to bring it inside and housebreak it.
At first there will be a great outpouring of noisy joy (or outrage), as we are seeing, but eventually everyone would settle back down to figuring out how to update their technology again (HD TV?).

Then people would be free to be queerly creative because it was in their natures, not because they were in pain.

Which reminds me of a Movie Moment. (Haven't written one of those for a while.)

Kurosawa's Yojimbo (Japan, 1961) is about the nameless rogue samurai (Toshiro Mifune, above), who hires himself out as a bodyguard ( "yojimbo" in Japanese).
He comes into a town ruled by two warring gangs.
Fear has made the place a ghost town.

The son of a peasant family joins Yojimbo, declaring he's tired of a life eating porridge, he wants a life of excitement and adventure.

Yojimbo takes on first one gang, then the other. He's not a romantic hero--he does it for money.
At the end of the movie, after pain and sadness has been wreaked in liberating the town, Yojimbo turns to the horrified young man and says,
"A quiet life eating porridge is best."

What I'm saying is, I'm no romantic about the creative effects of suffering. Suffering hurts people, reduces them. Only a very few people thrive under repression. Most of us just get little and mean, struggling like bedraggled geraniums.


momo said...

I don't know why i am so shocked that the STrib would refuse to print that, but I am. How awful.

Yojimbo is one of my favorite movies of all time, along with Sanjuro.

fresca said...

We were shocked too. It was so weird to be censored by a liberal paper "for our own protection."

I got to see "Yojimbo" on a big screen (Oak St.) a few years ago--I'd forgotten how beautiful Kurosawa's movies are. I haven't seen "Sanjuro" in a million years.
I wish theaters still showed old movies.

poodletail said...

1. Thanks for the geraniums picture. I've been wishing for more of your photos.

2. I'm not sure why you call the Strib a liberal paper.

fresca said...

1. That's nice to hear that you enjoy my photos. Thanks. (Since I'm just learning my camera, I have my doubts about them...)

2. Um, isn't the Strib self-proclaimed liberal? (You caught me out--I don't read it.)

They saw themselves that way at the time, as "protectors" of the GLBT community against our offensive langauge.

("Liberal" is hardly a word of high praise these days. Can mean "mealy-mouthed mediocrity." That better fits my experience of the obituary dept., anyway.)