Death at a Funeral

We watched another movie last night.  Let it be said that I think I have watched more movies thus far this year than I have ever watched in my life.  And by watching movies, I mean renting or paying in some fashion to view a complete movie, as opposed to watching it on TV or something like that.  It’s been an interesting and surprisingly enjoyable experience.  I’m obviously getting old and drifting into Alzheimers.

That’s depressing.

Though, not as depressing as the tripe at the end of Death at a Funeral.  This was a moderately funny British comedy about the outrageous goings-on at the funeral of the patriarch of a well-to-do family.  It was very common British comedy fair – outrageousness erupting in the midst of staid, placid, reserved family functions.  Family dysfunctionality in general.  And the lone sane person in the midst of a sea of loonies, struggling valiantly to cope and somehow, in the end, drawing everyone more or less to their senses.  The real funniness of this movie was in how hilarious my wife found it – something I would have NEVER expected. 

If I could just get her to appreciate Monty Python.

Now I’m depressed again.

However, not as depressed as the eulogy that was finally delivered at the end of the film.  A eulogy which elevated the worst indiscretions of the deceased, somehow making them into something admirable, and on a par with the greatest of a man’s accomplishments in his life.  Rather than acknowledging that we all act shamefully on some level, the effort was to deny shame, to justify it as our ‘best efforts’ to sort through this confusing life which we live.  Rather than admire the best in a man, we are called to view everything as the best, thereby desecrating the concept of best, and justifying our own foolishness and indiscretions and moral failings.

That’s depressing.

But it’s a common theme these days.  Nobody is allowed to judge.  Nobody is allowed to say this is good but this is not.  Nobody is permitted to be subjected to an outside evaluation of their choices and decisions.  Good is an internally defined matter, and nobody else has a right to weigh in on the matter.  Thousands of years of philosophical and theological work at attempting to understand the concepts of good and evil and right and wrong are tossed out on their head as irrelevant.  There is no good or evil, no right or wrong.  There is only what we choose to do, and there are only our justifications and attempts to mitigate the guilt we still feel despite assertions that we have nothing to feel guilty about. 

Of course, this is all dishonest claptrap.  Of course there is good and evil, right and wrong, and we apply these concepts just as unrelentingly to others as people always have.  It’s only that we now exempt ourselves from this sort of application by others.  We know good and well what is right or good or fair or true or reasonable or loving, but if we happen to violate these norms, we don’t wish to suffer the guilt which naturally comes from transgressing them.  And so we have to destroy the standards in order to avoid the guilt, in order to avoid having to be honest with ourselves and others, and most of all, in order to avoid having to change our behaviors, admit that we were wrong, and set out on the difficult road of living the way we know we should.

Movies like this one aren’t saying anything new.  It’s just depressing that in the midst of what would otherwise be a rather harmless (if foul-mouthed) comedy, this sort of intellectual Cream of Wheat has to be inserted. 

Depressing indeed.

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