A little while ago, maybe two months, maybe more, we finally joined the 21st century and cut our cable service, replacing it with a Roku device. I thought that cutting the cord would eliminate the constant stream of television in our house, particularly in my bedroom at night when I would finally come upstairs after making lunch and cleaning the kitchen, long after Bernard had settled into bed to surf from American Pickers to L.A. Ink to Swamp People to My 600 Pound Life, with snippets of Shawshank Redemption and Dumb and Dumber interspersed in between. Also, Sons of Anarchy and Justified.
Enough, I said. The cost is ridiculous and no one needs to watch that much TV anyway, and if we’re going to watch a program we need to watch with intent and purpose, not simply because the TV is on. That is what I said.
I did not foresee, because I am not good at this kind of foresight, that cutting cable would usher in binge-watching, that every night for three straight weeks I would arrive upstairs to a steady stream of Weeds followed by Breaking Bad, followed by Blindspot (because Bernard has a thing for the lead female character in Blindspot, a thing that has grown only stronger since Courtney Cox disappeared from TV).
So one rainy Friday night I said: Maybe we could watch a movie instead of a series; and in saying this, I did not mean that we would watch Kingpin or Caddyshack, though nor did I mean The Hours or The English Patient.
To be clear, the main reason I selected Spotlight, when I finally got control of the remote, was because of Mark Ruffalo, because I have a thing for Mark Ruffalo, a thing that has grown only stronger since Alan Rickman died.
Bernard very much did not want to see Spotlight because Bernard was raised Catholic (by which I mean that I am the first non-Dutch, non-Catholic mother of Balinks in 432 years – according to family records), and his relationship with the Catholic Church is complicated enough already.
If you haven’t yet seen Spotlight, I highly recommend it; it is different from what you might think. Like All the President’s Men, to which it has often been compared, it’s a story of journalists who reluctantly dive into something otherwise overlooked, that “something” being, in both cases, abuse of power and privilege.
If you haven’t seen it, please watch it. If you have seen it, please watch it again, which I did (for the third time) last night. Watch for this scene, near the end of the movie:
Globe journalist Robby Robinson (played brilliantly by Michael Keaton), is sitting at a quiet bar, having a conversation with Cardinal Law’s representative, who is making one final, heavy-handed push to dissuade the paper from running the story, from exposing the scandal in the Church. He argues on behalf of the good things both the Cardinal and the Church have done in Boston. He suggests – not subtly – that the Church should be allowed to address “this little matter” privately, to sweep it under the rug, so as not to impact all the good being done.
Robinson responds: So this is how it happens. A guy leans on a guy, and suddenly the whole town looks the other way.
As you already know, the Globe did not look the other way but instead pushed ahead with the story, making public “this little matter” that so many people actively denied and hid.
Which is why Spotlight is worth watching for the first time if you haven’t seen it and again, no matter how many times you’ve watched it before. Because paying attention is important; because deciding to ignore something you find uncomfortable or distasteful can be dangerous; because a bully is a bully, and bullying tactics are just that, and the only way to make a bully stand down is for someone else to stand up.
Because I’ll bet a dollar that no matter how outraged we feel over any recent incident or event, there’s at least one big, ugly, uncomfortable issue – systemic racism, gender-based discrimination, campus rape, human trafficking, political corruption – on which we, you and I, are part of the whole town, looking the other way.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Also, P.S., ICYMI. This:
Food | Week of July 11, 2016