For most of us, there is pressure to create this image of self and to choose our path fairly early in life. And for some, this comes naturally. I envy those that feel a calling for what they do and their place on this earth. As a young white person growing up in the rural south, my personal path forward was very clearly laid out, and my experience in searching for myself was mostly focused on finding a way to fit in and make a living.
In some cases this sense of self image and the expectations of what your life should be, that has been created by us or possibly for us, comes into conflict with who we actually are or want to be later in life. Is this conflict the source of the uniquely Western ideas of the quarter-life and mid-life crisis? This isn’t the way I was told this story works out! But I am a special white person and culture states that I am going to be the hero of my own American Dream.
Sometimes this image of self can be destructive for society. We believe too strongly in the story of ourselves. What does society owe you? Is some else’s success equal to your failure? The ego can be dangerous. Self importance is surely the at the core of some of societies most destructive and senseless outcomes.
I was excited to get back to supporting local cinema during the pandemic when The Plaza started their Drive-In series. The most recent movie we saw there really got me thinking about this idea of self image and the concept of good people doing bad things. Promising Young Woman was an uncomfortable, eye-opening work of art and an absolute must see movie of the moment.
Even more recently, there have been horrible tragedies in Atlanta associated with the Massage Parlor Massacres. So many issues with this horrible act of violence against women and marginalized sex workers. In the reporting of this racist hate crime we are seeing the media telling us that at the root of this murderer’s motivation come the conflict of the self image that was created around him and the life that he was leading.
It is hard for me to think the victims are anything but victims. And the issues lies within the structure of society that creates a false sense of superiority for one group when the behavior of this same group has created so much pain for that same society.
Promising Young Woman isn’t about the bad guys doing bad things. Its about the good guys doing nothing. We aren’t supporting the institutions of oppression directly but they have surely supported us our entire lives.
Hey! What are you doing?!