I just got home from a week of international business travel. I am all fu-shtooked. I am jet lagged and disjointed. I am in a funk caught between hating life and being struck by the immaculate creativity of the guys who made HBO’s The Night Of.
Have you seen this? It is ridiculously gorgeous, though the content is violent and gruesome. One scene is silently making noise in my mind. It is shot quietly, a reflection in a rain puddle. It’s all you see of them, not their faces or their full view, just these muted, filmy blurs walking by on their way into jail.
I mean. Who was it sitting around a table with the other writers who said, “It will be the loneliest, most anonymous way to show how viciously absent humanity is from crime and its consequences. How it becomes numbers and nameless and never endingly confusing to be confiscated from your life – be you victim or perpetrator or family of either.” I mean – this guy? Genius. He takes pain, makes it poetry, and then amps it to a graphic (in the true meaning of the word) statement about how far we are from any kind of simplicity or justice.
I am a Law and Order junkie. I find it soothing, all that resolution in 60 minutes. It keeps me wondering how people even get up in the morning. I like the de dun dun. I like the characters, the broody-moody relationships, the drive to understand the criminal’s mind and motive. So psychologically intriguing to look for the reason in the wrong doer. I like that it reminds me of my G*dmother. That show was her mantra, gave her spirit and inspiration, I think.
The Night Of is the story of a 1st generation American immigrant born to Pakistani parents. A good boy. A boy you would want to marry your girl. Sweet. Innocent. Hard worker. Loves his family and they him. And somehow he ends up in a lot of trouble. I won’t say how much or how he came by it in case you want to see for yourself. But suffice it to say – life changingly, mind bogglingly bad.
And I am hooked because I find his drama soothing. Not because I can’t imagine that it could be me, but exactly because it could. I could be the kid, the mother, the cop, the victim. I could be any member of all of their families. Such tiny, fine, almost imperceptible lines separate us – good and bad, free and locked up.
Makes me think of my German colleague who I visited this week. He struggles with the concept of Diversity. He has always been a student of culture, he says, but coming from a country with the history his has, “It creeps him out,” when we focus on race or gender or other demarcations. The last thing he wants is someone saying again, “You’re a Jew, go over there.”
This same German colleague described a time when an African-American, female Diversity and Inclusion leader, open her executive briefing session with, “Our goal is to no longer be dominated by white, German men.” He raised his hand and asked, “Like me?” She apologized, later, privately.
How easily inclusion becomes exclusion, right becomes wrong, or wrong becomes right. Hard to tell which is what when the scene is shot at such an imperceptible angle, a reflection from the puddles of people just walking through their lives.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
Image courtesy of http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/tv/warm-tv-blog/article87964717.html