Manchester by the sea of my tears
Inauguration Day is almost here. And Trump’s behavior since his win have made things go from bad to are you fucking kidding me? The Cold War has crawled out of hibernation and turned into a sloppy, wet kiss between two narcissistic, deviant bullies with tiny hands and dead hearts. Vladimir Putin has masterfully manipulated his Trumppet, with laughable tactics like addressing the orange blowhard as “His Excellency” in his congratulatory letter after his/their victory over Hillary Clinton. And even after FBI, CIA, NSA and ODNI officials reviewed a 50-page classified document that showed how Russia interfered with our presidential election, President-elect Dickwad remains unconvinced.
So what do we do? What can we do? I suggest we all have a good cry. And the sure fire way to that is to go see “Manchester by the Sea.” After Sunday night’s Golden Globes, you might choose to be a “La La Lander” instead. And I get that. But the high from those luscious two hours of song and dance will fade the minute you get a Huff Post ping. I gotta remember to turn that off.
Nope, I believe therapeutic crying, induced by “Manchester by the Sea,” is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spill the beans here. Everybody knows it’s a sad movie. Heck even Casey Affleck emphasized how sad it was while hosting “Saturday Night Live” last month. And he was promoting the movie!
I’ve been on the verge of tears for weeks and thought a good cry could release some of my stress. But holding back my tears gives me a major headache so I had to come up with a “strategery.” I went to Fandango and found a 10 a.m. showing on a Sunday. I planned nothing else for the rest of the day, but did pencil in the possibility of an afternoon nap, courtesy of Ambien. Before heading to the theater, I chased down three Excedrin Migraines with a sugary Coke, threw a Kleenex-to-go packet in my bag and off I went. I was relieved to find only nine others in the theater, giving me plenty of room to stretch out and sob.
And sob I did. I reached for my first tissue pretty early on and it never stopped. Was I crying about the pussy grabber? Oh hell no. I was lost in a grief so much bigger than what some jackass who scammed his way into the White House could cause. I actually had to put my hand over my mouth a couple times to muffle a couple potentially out-loud, boo-hoos. Only two times in my life do I recall crying with sound — 26 years ago when my mother died and some years later when a man I loved betrayed me.
My teary therapy session mercifully ended as the credits began to roll. I grabbed my stuff and bolted. My fellow moviegoers had been through enough — they didn’t need to see me sans makeup. The door opened too easily as the movie usher kid on the other side pulled, just as I pushed. I only noticed him after I said aloud, “That was the saddest fucking movie I have ever seen.”
My contact lens shot off my eyeball an hour earlier. That, and the residual tears, made for a blurry drive home. But I had no headache. I felt a strange sense of relief. Maybe I was just happy to get the hell out of Manchester. Or perhaps good things actually do happen to your body after a good cry — lower blood pressure, reduced manganese levels affecting your mood, a release of stress and toxins. I suspect it was all of the above, plus the overwhelming hopelessness and helplessness I’ve been feeling since November 8.
On my drive, I wondered if it wasn’t a coincidence that such a monumentally sad movie would get a lot of attention when so many of us feel such despair. When I got home I did a little research on popular movies during other stressful times in our history. As I mentioned, my day was wide open.
After the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, “Mrs. Miniver,” a romantic war drama, was the highest grossing movie of 1942 and won the Oscar for best picture in 1943. I imagine there was no escape back then, so Americans just sucked it up.
Gregory Peck won both a Golden Globe and Oscar in 1963 for his heart-bursting portrayal of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This favorite movie of mine takes place in the South during the Great Depression. A white lawyer defends an innocent black man on trumped up charges that he attacked a white woman. Even though Negro Tom Robinson had a damaged left hand and couldn’t have beaten, choked and/or raped Miss Mayella, he was convicted by an all-white jury anyway. And then things really went downhill for poor, innocent, sweet Tom. But the very next year The Civil Rights Act was passed and it became law that black lives mattered. Finally!
Later in November of 1963, our beloved JFK was assassinated and the entire country went numb. The top three movies of 1964 were “My Fair Lady,” “Goldfinger,” and “Mary Poppins.” It seemed everybody went the “La La Land” route.
The landmark Loving v. State of Virginia civil rights decision was made in June of 1967, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the U.S. Reflecting the times, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was the third highest grossing film of that year. In 1968, it won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress for Katharine Hepburn.
1968 was a year of unbearable loss. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April; Bobby Kennedy in June. The top three films that year were “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Funny Girl” and “The Love Bug.” Heartbroken moviegoers turned to outer space, the Ziegfeld Follies and a possessed Volkswagen for escape. During my research I saw heartbreaking images of Martin and Bobby. I felt my eyes begin to water and abruptly ended my Sunday afternoon project.
So if you’re sick to death of his tweets, mortified by his behavior and deeply concerned for our future — don’t hold it in. Go see “Manchester by the Sea.” Have a good cry. Get it all out.
Then go see “Hidden Figures.”
And get inspired!