I have a long-time neighbor and friend who is also an award-winning screenwriter. He has written screenplays that deal with murder, motherhood, loneliness, lust, insecurity, empathy, being a black sheep, being a fish out of water. While he can write horror and sci-fi, the majority of his scripts are realistic and showcase the thrills, chills, wonder, and weirdness that occurs in real life. Thus, reading his scripts — most for the screen — has brought me some revelations about life offscreen. (In the case of screenplays, art not only imitates life, it examines and evaluates and influences it.) A few things I have learned:
Conclusion does not necessarily bring resolution. Situations — an unsolved crime, a family dispute, an illness, an unrequited love — may come to an end, but that ending does not necessarily bring any answers or comfort to anyone. The killer gets caught but the victims’ families still grieve. The lonely guy makes a friend but still doesn’t find love. The alcoholic makes peace with his past mistakes but cannot stop drinking. The war is over but everything is in shambles and the winner is broke. The end of bad times may bring a sigh of relief but rarely does it heal any wounds. This is true in movies and in real life. People may celebrate the end of a bad scene for a bit, but usually they just pick up and move on (and clean up).
When someone is horrible and you wonder what happened to make them that way, the answer is often NOTHING. Or at least nothing extraordinary. While there are people killing children or setting houses on fire due to one very traumatic event or inborn evil, most people are the way they are due to how they learned to handle the ordinary ups and downs in their lives. For every person who is attacking passerbys or setting cars on fire and points to a lousy childhood, a lack of money, or mistreatment of some sort … well, there is a successful business owner or a great teacher or some well-adjusted person who had a lousy childhood, grew up poor, or was mistreated in some way and did not go to pieces and take out their anger on everyone else. Of course, the serial killer is deemed to be way more interesting than the guy who owns the shoe store, but if you scratch the surface you may find they ain’t that much different other than the store owner chose to take a more constructive path.
More on this subject tomorrow … in the meantime, go to the movies!