Day 47: Narra-been There, Done That!

Today I took a break from the #marthalyf to head on down to the beach. On a day this perfect for it, you have to take advantage of it. It was amazing. Great, easy drive up to Narrabeen. Beautiful looking beach, and perfect weather that meant I could lay there and not boil over. Nary a person in sight where I planted myself so I could get my tits out. So I spent a leisurely afternoon reading my book and then walking the length of the beach. You just cannot hate life on a day like this…

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The only downer was that I couldn’t go swimming. When I got there I ventured out to the water’s edge only to hear and feel a *squish* beneath my foot. Fucking bluebottle! Turns out it was the luckiest step I had ever trodden because I managed to step on the bulbous body of the bluebottle without being stung by the tail. So I hauled ass out of there and gave up any dreams I had of swimming today. I really did not want today’s entry to be “Day 47: Today for the first time ever I got stung by a motherfucking bluebottle.”

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These little fuckers were out in force today. Walking along the beach was an exercise in constant vigilance. I noticed the odd person braving the waters today, even with no flags, and I just thought, are you people insane? Do you want to die from the stings of a thousand bluebottles? For someone who usually has very little sense of danger, I have a strangely acute awareness of bluebottles. I have remained un-stung my entire life and I plan on keeping it that way. That’s one thing I don’t mind never experiencing.

Man…rough surf, bluebottles, sharks…are there ANY beaches in this God forsaken city that a person can swim at without being killed to death by Mother Nature?? Straya, indeed.

On Day 46, yesterday, I had a big #marthalyf day, but I did get to watch Dallas Buyers Club. It sort of goes without saying at this point, but great movie and very powerful acting performances. I can’t be the only person who watches any movie that begins with the phrase “based on a true story” and then immediately Wikipedias the relevant person or event to find out what “really” happened, can I?

When I was younger I used to take a perverse kind of pleasure in finding out the facts and noting every bit of license the movie had taken. How dare they! As an historian, and a rather empirical one at that, it would rankle me that they didn’t portray the story exactly as it was. Now I’m a lot more philosophical about it. It’s a God damn Hollywood movie, calm the fuck down. After I watched The Imitation Game I was reading up on it, and one of the people involved in making the movie said something that really struck me:

“When you use the language of ‘fact checking’ to talk about a film, I think you’re sort of fundamentally misunderstanding how art works. You don’t fact check Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’. That’s not what water lilies look like, that’s what the sensation of experiencing water lilies feel like. That’s the goal of the piece.”

– Graham Moore, ‘Imitation Game’ Writer Slams ‘Fact-Checking’ Films As Misunderstanding Of Art, Huffington Post

And I think that sums it up better than I ever could. If you’re trying to tell the story of a particular person or particular series of events, it is literally impossible to re-create it perfectly. How could you? According to who’s point of view? What do you put in and leave out? How could you fit it all into a two hour movie? And make it engaging and entertaining as a movie? It’s impossible. All you can do is try to paint a picture that reflects your subject matter. Not the water lilies, but the spirit of them. The essence of them. Something that makes you feel what it was like. That’s as close as we’re ever going to get.

I don’t know if the real life Ron Woodruff was as homophobic and bigoted as he was portrayed in the beginning of the movie. I don’t know if he was as outlandish and creatively criminal as he was portrayed. And Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto portrayed completely made up characters, so nobody will ever know how the real Ron Woodruff would have reacted to either of them. None of that really matters though. Dallas Buyers Club was a great film that painted an effective picture of Ron Woodruff. Of the shock of his death sentence, of his struggle for survival, of the futility of fighting the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, of the prejudice prevalent towards AIDS and AIDS sufferers during that time. You felt what it was like for him. For people like him. And that’s really what you want out of a biopic at the end of the day.

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