Friday, July 22, 2011

Playing with disability

“Sadly, the cost associated with taking the medication to control that illness was that he completely lost what he called ‘the pep.’ The pep stemmed from that manic energy that would compel him to just burst out into song and write and create music. Once he started taking the medications, sadly that ended. He was no longer Wild Man Fischer... He became Larry Fischer.”

Yes, it was sad, but for who?

It is bad - and sad - enough - or perhaps I just find it irritating enough - when disabled characters, especially those with psychological illnesses, are portrayed as oh-so cool, even hip. I’m talking about movies like Benny and Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, in which the eternally cool Johnny Depp puts up with being responsible for his schizophrenic brother played by a young, hot Leonardo diCaprio. There’s also Girl, Interupted, in which the hip, pre-shoplifting Winnona Ryder plays a young woman chills out in a mental institution.

I can list other films, but I think you get the point: Being crazy, being a freak can be cool and entertaining, even fun.

However, these are just movies. What about the case of Larry “Wild Man” Fischer, who died last month? According to the large obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Fischer was a mentally ill man who hung out on the streets of Hollywood ranting like many others. But his rants were particularly creative and entertaining and caught the ear of Frank Zappa and other who got him gigs on recordings and shows.

Fischer got to be a star, a cool, hip star of sorts, but this stardom depended on him for being sick, on him being a freak. As conveyed in the quote above by Jeremy Lubin, a documentary filmmaker, when he sought to get more sane and “normal,” he lost the ability to be entertaining. He lost “the pep” and was no longer a star.

Again, who was this sad for? Fischer, who was relieved of the demons in his head, or those entertained by his creative and cool rants?

I have also been thinking of Jared Lochner, charged in the mass shooting in Tuscon in January, who is being held in a mental ward, having been deemed unable to stand trial. That has been a legal fight over whether he can be forced to take drugs that will enable him to stand trial. A court has ruled he can’t be forced to take drugs for this purpose, but I just read this morning that he is apparently being drugged anyway.

This literally doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know who’s crazier - Lochner, or those who want to dope him up so he can be tried and convicted.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Red, white and "shoot!"

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I hate the Fourth of July and that the primary reason for this - on top of the All-American-America-is-Always-Right jingo-ism - is that I have a very difficult time, being startled, with the noise from the fireworks. This year was particularly tough, with there being more illegal fireworks than I remember in a good many years. They started going off around here more than a week before the 4th and kept going until after midnight on Monday. I even heard a couple the next evening.

“Don’t they know it’s over?” I kept saying to my attendant when she came to put me to bed on the 4th.

Who were they? I wondered, figuring they were more than the usual bad boys being bad. And why were they shooting off so much? A few thoughts:

A lot of people are angry, what with all the unemployment, foreclosures, high prices, etc., and this was a good way to let off steam. Who cares if it’s illegal? The government and laws are stupid, and, Hell, it’s the 4th, and everyone’s doing it - and should!

It has been ten years since September 11, and, by God, we’re still standing and still strong - and more of a big deal should be made about it!

Then there’s the killing of Osama Bin Laden - certainly something worth celebrating with pyrotechnics, even if it’s illegal. But this presents a quandry, because it was done under President Obama, which no doubt drives some people nuts. Which leads back to pissed-off folks blowing of steam.

Or maybe there were just more bad boys out there.