I don’t tend to admit this to a lot of people. For a long time I never wanted to show my weaknesses due to how some would judge me or use any weakness against me. These days, I’m pretty much an open book, baring my soul on this blog, and to close friends when I am in need. I pretty much put my weaknesses on display, which has helped me overcome them and seemingly helped others due to my exposure. So yes, I cried when I first saw Harry and the Hendersons and every time since. I was a child the first time so crying often wasn’t an anomaly, but that movie? What in this fun comedy would make me cry…compassion.
Harry and the Hendersons was released in 1987 ( I’m showing my age here). It follows a Bigfoot creature that is hit with a car by the Hendersons after a hunting trip. Fearing what they hit was a man, they decided to nurse him back to health, only to find this man was actually a giant Bigfoot. Once awake, they see the child-like nature of the creature, growing to love him as part of the family not knowing a hunter was looking for the creature as well. This is truly a fun movie with lots of laughs, but the ending just killed me.
Yesterday I saw the movie Chappie. Chappie is about a police force that is manned by robots. One robot that was on its way to the junk yard was given artificial intelligence that allowed him to think and feel, learning as a child would in early development. This leads to Chappie (Sharlto Copley) being led into a world of trouble, as Chappie’s innocence makes him a target for criminals who want to use him, and the company that build him wanting to destroy him. It’s a great movie, fun, funny, and yes I cried in this one too. I have to say, I don’t cry during all movies but both of these movies shared a common thread: a lack of compassion for others.
In both movies, humans show their dark side for everything they don’t fully understand. This isn’t new but not everyone has direct knowledge and experience with this kind of blind hatred. I am a gay black man living with HIV. I have first hand knowledge. As a child I knew I was different from my other friends due to my attraction to other males. Race for me wasn’t even a factor until a bit later, but still during my developmental years in elementary school. I knew I was black and a different color than other people, but I didn’t know that was apparently a bad thing. I knew I liked men and not everyone else did, but for a while I didn’t know that was a bad thing either. I was just like Chappie and Harry, believing people’s kind words, unable to look below for their true intentions, and unable to understand why me being different was bad.
Honestly, I still can’t understand why different is bad. Okay, that’s not true, I understand how the mind can create fear from what it doesn’t understand. I understand different leads to questions and uncertainty. But for me that is exciting. Let’s learn something new. Let’s explore as our ancestors did ( but better with less killing and slavery). Everything that is the same to you, you didn’t know was the same until it was taught to you. We developed into what we are, and some people stayed in the boxes that were assigned to them. Others decided to explore and come into their own. They decided societies boxes weren’t designed with them in mind, and created their own box ( click here).
I cried at the end of Harry and the Hendersons because the father played by John Lithgow hit Harry, yelling at him to go away and never return to save him from the hunter in hot pursuit. Harry was so hurt and didn’t understand the real motives, which were love, concern, and safety. They cared enough to let him go, and in the end he was able to find his tribe, and live a full life. I feel like Harry often. I still don’t feel as though I have found my tribe. I have loving friends and family but I still see myself as an outsider. I don’t feel like anyone truly gets me, but maybe I don’t have a full enough grasp on myself to show them what I’m all about. I really can understand that point, and if I want to feel included and whole, I have to understand and love myself first.
What I got from both movies was hope. Chappie had a tough time but he had a creator (Dev Patel) and a new mother played by Die Antwoord’s Yo-Landi Visser, who cared about his well-being. Harry had the Hendersons, who also cared for him and protected him when the situation got too much. They both struggled with a society that didn’t want them or understand them. The main problem is they didn’t want to understand just eliminate what didn’t fit in a box they could understand. But both had hope someone would. Both had that child-like innocence that believed in others.
As a grown man, it’s hard to still have that kind of hope. I have seen too much. I know the darkness in the human experience that EVERYONE has inside them, that only present themselves during certain conditions. Other’s decide darkness is their light, but light is light and there is plenty of it. Their wouldn’t be protests for justice and equality if there wasn’t light and hope. Their wouldn’t be advancements in medicine if their wasn’t hope. There really wouldn’t be any reason not to throw your hands up if there wasn’t hope and I don’t mean star wishing. We experience the results of turning hope into action all the time, lending itself to continue to have faith in ourselves and humanity.
I cry when I see compassion lost. I cry when I see compassion regained. I cried at Harry and the Hendersons.
What movies make you cry? Do you still have faith and hope? Leave a comment below.