Monday, April 25, 2005

The thing that people have most responded to from last year’s blog was an apparent tirade in which I criticized the audience for laughing so hard at the characters in Gates of Heaven. That particular entry was even printed in one of the University of Illinois alumni newsletters. Judging by everyone’s response to my response, I can’t help but feel that I was completely misunderstood, not that I can blame anyone. The thing about that screening and my reaction to it was not that I was angry with the audience and thus felt superior to everyone for having greater appreciation of the film. I was laughing too. I thought these people were funny too. I was angry with myself most of all. I was disappointed in the time in which we live. I felt suddenly disconnected and misanthropic. I felt like someone trapped in a small tin box suffocated by roaring laughter. I couldn’t distinguish the people in Gates of Heaven from anyone you might see in a Christopher Guest film or on the Daily Show, and that was what was so disconcerting. Has the age of detachment reached its point of no return? How does Errol Morris feel about this movie? What did he intend for the audience to feel? Did he have any intentions? I hate that we react to the people in this film as if they are different from us, as if they are mere walking spectacles, cartoon characters. Will we all be viewed the same way 25 years from now as we live the consequences of our failed dreams? Roger said that one of the reasons he loves this film is because of the many different ways it is viewed. Maybe once upon a time that was true, but I think most of those ways have been whittled away by irony and sarcasm. Now all that is left is detached amusement at the silly ways in which people cope with death. Maybe that’s the brilliance of it. At the gates of heaven, there is laughter. At the gates of hell, there is the same. The difference is where it comes from. It is better to laugh than be laughed at and if you’re the one laughing then maybe you're in the right place.

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