Last night at the Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow presented the award for best director. Sitting on the couch, I recalled how Ms. Bigelow changed my life.
My father and mother were flying to New Foundland for the weekend for an anniversary dinner. At the last minute my mom decided that my cousin Chris and his girlfriend were unfit to look after my younger brother and sister, and she wasn’t going. They had purchased two nonrefundable roundtrip tickets so someone had to go. That someone was me.
I viewed it as a sure sign of my parent’s acceptance of me as an equal. I didn’t care how I got there. If I got to play point guard for the Celtics because the whole team had come down with a crippling case of hemorrhoids, I would still be on the team. I would still be running up and down that brilliant parquet floor, just as I had dreamed while taking imaginary game winning shots in my driveway.
Taking my mother’s place made me, for the weekend anyway, an adult.
When we got there, my father informed me that he, along with the other adults, would be leaving for dinner. I wasn’t sure why he felt the need to share this information. Perhaps he was jetlagged, and had forgotten the self bestowed adult status I was enjoying for the weekend.
Maybe it was like Thanksgiving dinner, when you are too old to sit at the kids table but there is no room at the adult table. You are stuck trying to have dinner conversations with six and seven year olds who are making fart noises in their mashed potatoes. Until someone dies, or is disowned, you’re stuck there in holiday dinner purgatory.
My frustration at being left behind faded when I realized that I would be hanging around with my cousin Patrick.
Older siblings and cousins hold a mythical, god-like status. They listen to cooler music, wear cooler clothes, stay up later, and get to watch cooler movies. I sat down with Patrick and his friends to watch a newly released R rated movie, and as the bright red R rating flashed onto the screen, I felt goose bumps.
An eleven year old up past his bed time in a foreign country couldn’t have asked for more.
When the smarmy FBI director uttered this genius assessment of Reeve’s character, Jonny Utah; young, dumb, and full of cum, I was confused. At the tender age of eleven I had no idea what this meant. Everyone else had found it hilarious, so I laughed. I would be sure to label my little brother young, dumb and full of cum when I got home, delighting family and friends.
As the four letter words began to lose their impact, I wondered, where is the partial nudity?
I turned the box over in my hands. There it was. Rated R for adult language, violence, and partial nudity. What if I had missed it? I had no idea what partial nudity was, so it was plausible that it had slipped by while I blinked, or reached for my soda.
Then, it happened. A gun fight broke out, during which Anthony Keidis blows a bloody hole in his Reebok. Amidst the bullets and the shouting, I finally got what I had been waiting for. A stray bullet conveniently shatters the glass in the shower revealing a very blonde, very naked woman.
Although the expert camera angles prevented me from catching a clear glimpse of anything, I felt something. It felt dangerous, like I was out there in the world doing something wrong, and there was no one around to tell me to cover my eyes, or go to bed.
There was no going back now. Something inside of me had broken. There was a hole in my innocence the size of the hole in Anthony Keidis’ foot. The hole was insatiable. I sat on the edge of my seat, nervously running my hand around the edge of my Welch’s grape soda, waiting for more partial nudity.
I had been enjoying an average movie, with some slightly below average acting, with respect to Gary Busey, and Lori Petty’s hair do. But now, it was me “versus the system, the system that kills the human spirit” and prevents it from freely viewing all the boobs it wants. The movie stood for something. “To the dead souls inching along the freeway in their metal coffins” wishing each and every woman walked around topless, Point Break showed me that “the human spirit” and its desire for cleavage “was still alive.”
People yearn to be inspired, to feel alive. True art, true creative expression must have that life altering effect on you. It has to shake the very core of who you are and leave some form of hole in you. I barely remember the first time I got laid, and for a million dollars, I couldn’t tell you who the speaker at my college graduation was. But I will always remember feeling like an adult for the first time.
“This is your wakeup call” Kathryn Bigelow “I am” not “an FBI agent” but I am, and always will grateful.