Last night I watched the film, Detachment, with Adrian Brody. What I took away from the film was a deeper understanding of myself. On the surface, the movie is about a man with a broken past working as a sub in a harsh school system, who has a kind and gentle demeanor. However isn’t only about school, it was about exactly what it claimed to be focused on: detachment. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Henry (Adrian Brody) stands in front of his classroom making a connection to the holocaust and reality.
He asks the class to define assimilation and ubiquitous, then “Ubiquitous Assimilation” — meaning to always absorb everything everywhere all the time. He asks, how are we to imagine anything if the images are already provided for us? Then, to “doublethink,” meaning having two opposing beliefs at once and believing BOTH are true:
“Assimilate ubiquitously. Doublethink. To deliberately believe in lies, while knowing they’re false. Examples of this in everyday life: “oh, I need to be pretty to be happy. I need surgery to be pretty. I need to be thin, famous, fashionable.”. Our young men today are being told that women are whores, bitches, things to be screwed, beaten, shit on, and shamed. This is a marketing holocaust. Twenty-fours hours a day for the rest of our lives, the powers that be are hard at work dumbing us to death. So to defend ourselves, and fight against assimilating this dullness into our thought processes, we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief systems. We all need skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds.”
This is after we have met Erica, a young teen prostitute who has been raped. Meredith, a girl who is emotionally and verbally abused at home, yet possesses great talent and no self-esteem, for she is overweight and bullied. We see a few glimpses into Henry’s dark past, where we are only left to assume the worst, yet slowly learn more and more. This explains Henry’s source of detachment, and is discussed beautifully:
“A child’s intelligent heart can fathom the depth of many dark places, but can it fathom the delicate moment of its own detachment?”
How to we protect our own detachment? To stay connected, emotionally present? How do we connect to our children, and encourage our peers to find love in each other and find emotion in everyday life? We are living in a marketing holocaust. TV unconsciously tells us how to have our relationships, how to find love, what to eat, how to be happy, and what to think. Yet we love it, crave to watch and feel detached. I know I do.
Where is the beauty in finding our own individuality? Delving into worlds unknown? In order not to be detached, we must remain attached, obviously. Henry was numbing himself day in and day out. He had made a mental prison for himself. We must “stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief systems. We all need skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
Find the clip of this scene here: Detachment