Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Damaged Goods

There's required reading in high school. Lord of the Flies. I had a particularly shitty tenth grade English teacher, so we skipped huge chunks of the book and watched the movie instead. Then later, Heart of Darkness. A better teacher made us read it, then showed us Apocalypse Now, more of a twisted-treat than an educational cop out. Finally we read Robertson Davies' Fifth Business. I'm not sure why so many books about inherent human evil are pimped out in high schools - Perhaps because teenagers are pure evil; this might be the school board's less-than-subtle attempt at making us shake hands with our devils.

After reading part one of the Deptford Trilogy, I quickly read the others and became obsessed with Jungian psychology. I bought textbooks and used the word "shadow" entirely too often. I was fascinated! And also obnoxious. But I couldn't get enough. As a concept, I still like it but I stopped reading medical journals and avoid discussing my endopsyche with strangers. These days, I prefer to get my fix from pop culture. Enter: Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in Damages. Evil incarnate. Wolf in sheep's clothing. A straight-up scary lady.

I couldn't wait for Showcase to air it, so I bought Season 1 on DVD. Jeff and I have been watching two episodes a night for the last few days, burning through them fast. Like Christmas or a bag of Doritos, there's something sad about coming to the end of something so good. But it's over. I've even hit the end of Bonus Features. And I can't stop thinking about it.

Lots of shows/books/movies have tried to tap into the whole shadow/ego blahditty-blah-blah since Freud started blaming his mother - Pop psychology is a critical part of the culture these days. But it's been a long time since I've seen an exploration as complete as in Damages. Over thirteen gripping episodes we're torn between truth and fiction, the good and bad, archetypes flying like daggers, Glenn Close in all her glorious shades of grey. The kind of discomfort experienced in liking such reprehensible characters is a real art, on the part of filmmakers. They walk a fine line and leave us unsure how to feel about everything. Being drawn towards such unmitigated immorality makes us question our own goodness. I love that. I can't wait to start back at Episode One.


  1. Heya. I just stumbled across your blog and I love it, I am adding your feed to my reader ASAP.

    I totally agree about Damages, my husband and I could not wait for it to be screened in Australia, got the DVD's on Amazon, and like you ended up watching 2 episodes a night, not wanting it to end. After reading your post I thinkw are going to have to watch it again now.

    Glenn Close was fantastic, so lovable and kind one minute, and then you had no idea what to expect?

    Keep posting, I enjoy your writing.

  2. The writing in this post was elegant and tight. Like many other posts during this period. Like Glenn Closes's face in the picture.