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Friday, June 09, 2006


Prairie Home Poetry

Prairie Home Companion opens today. I've had this idea of writing responses to movie clips that interest me. I saw this good clip online, and it got me thinking. So here's my first movie response.

I made a quick transcript to highlight some of the lines.

Yolanda Johnson (Meryl Streep): You gotta be grateful for everything that happens to you because that's what got you here. . . Disappointment doesn't get you anywhere. . . Everything is a step along the way, and it all leads to something else.

Rhonda Johnson (Lily Tomlin): Pardon me if I don't get down on my knees.

Lola Johnson (Lindsey Lohan):
"Soliloquy for a Blue Guitar"
Death is easy like jumping
into the big blue air and waving
hello to God. God is love
but He doesn't necessarily drop everything
to catch you does he? . . . [my line breaks]

Yolanda Johnson (Meryl Streep): Hey, what was the name of that song?

Rhonda Johnson (Lily Tomlin): I won't be loaning my car to you any time soon.

Now, in my mind Meryl Streep's "philosophy" is positive thinking, circular reasoning of the worst kind. She consoles Lindsey Lohan with this thought, "Everything is a step along the way, and it all leads to something else." Well, duh. The problem is sometimes our choices lead us to real pain. Sometimes we find ourselves in real pain through no fault of our own.

Streep's advice is simply not honest. She doesn't want to listen to Lohan. She doesn't care about Lohan's problems. She only offers advice in hopes that by solving Lohan's problems, Lohan will stop bothering her.

Lily Tomlin's response to Streep is puzzling, too. She hears the ridiculous philosophy and presumably links it to Christianity with her comment: "Pardon me if I don't get down on my knees." Now, I'm not about to suggest the movie is condemning all Christian doctrine as positive thinking, circular reasoning.

But I do wonder how many non-Christians view our religion like this? They think we are fatalists. They think our gratitude to God is a way of blaming Him, pinning the responsibility of the universe on him. We just wash our hands of any psychological problems or consequences.

Lohan is the only character here with any real integrity. Her poetry is honest. So honest that she doesn't even want to share it. But when she does, her question gets ignored by both women. Streep just changes the topic. Tomlin judges her as suicidal (although her judgment has some dry wit to it).

But Lohan won't let it go. "Did you like it?" she asks. Her imagined suicide, like her poem, is just an attempt to wave hello to the world.

I suppose this blog is my attempt to wave hello.
Hello, God.
Hello, family.
Hello, friends.
Hello, anonymous.
(Did you like it?)

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