Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why A Show About Sex Makes Me Cry

Thanksgiving is coming up.
You know when you bring the turkey home from the kosher place, or Trader-Joe's, Giant, Publix, Shop-Rite or wherever? And you stick your hand into the bird and pull out all the guts? And then look inside?
That is what watching Transparent is like. It's the first show I've ever seen to mix so naturally what we laboriously termed "sex, gender, and sexuality" in graduate school.
In a way, it's not even about sex.
It's about who you really are at the core. Your most personal self, your truths, the things you think you're hiding but you're not.
You can't.
As you get older, the gradually increasing inability to act like someone else.
Transparent wouldn't have been watch-able, or even make-able, 10 years ago. Or even 5, I don't think.
It reflects something happening in our culture, a seismic change.
But it's so imperceptible we think it's happening naturally.
After so many tentative years of drawing, then photographing, then filming ourselves -
Then learning how to post it for the world to see---
Every minute.
After discovering that our personal selves were like brands, and that their inner qualities existed, in a sense to be harnessed---
After realizing that our quirkiness would make us never fit into any corporate kind of mold---
We have emerged, or are emerging, from a very restrictive kind of box.
A box that held a set of rules inscribed in stone.
Not the rules themselves, necessarily.
But the belief that every situation has a "right" and a "wrong" way to handle it, to represent it.
Rules about what to do.
We've grown tired of all the boxes and rules, haven't we? We know there is no salvation in obeying.
Transparent represents the loosening of tight collars, pulling out neckties, putting up one's feet to have a glass of red wine.
It shows adults breaking free from social convention, because sometimes you have to do that to be who you are.
It shows that everyone's life has at least one good shonda - roughly translated fro the Yiddish, "a disgrace" - and once they are free, they can actually breathe again.
It shows that things weren't better in 1952, 1972, or 1994, either. When they were shoved under the rug to varying extents.
It's almost 2015 now.
We are looking for entertainment like this, that reflects back our endless search for ourselves. What is deepest, and authentic and pure and what we somehow lost amid a modern life full of artifice.
All our worries, all our pain, all the struggle and the tears. We are so hard on ourselves, and on each other, for nothing.
Joy in life comes from simple authenticity. From recapturing the childlike ability to love, and trust.
To be intimate with your other.
To know and be yourself.
_____
Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. "Transparent" graphic via Amazon.

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