When I was in college, I became very fond of the movie, Postcards from the Edge. Have you seen it? Featured are two female members of a family…well, let’s be clear here–they are mother and daughter, always a potent and complex relationship. I loved the movie for its depiction of a mother’s overeager desire for her daughter to present a ladylike, charming, poised facade while living in a vortex of family dysfunction. Did I love the movie because I could relate? Maybe yes, maybe no…that’s for me to know, and you’ll never find out! But I digress.
The movie positioned humor and charm into a situation the viewer could see was essentially untenable and often, implicitly unbearable. And so, one learns by watching this kind of comedy that given space and a sense of remove, we can indeed laugh at the things that are difficult to experience in real time.
So, Postcards was me in my 20s.
I’m older now. And recently, a friend pointed out that I’m playing captured patient to my very own Nurse Ratched. Of course, he’s referring to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Through this lens of pop-culture match-up, I find levity where normally there wouldn’t be any. So maybe in this very simplistic way, that’s what pop culture does for us: it allows us see our lives with the variance of humor attached.
Woody Allen says that humor is tragedy given space and time. I agree.