I’m just not a movie person. I like movies, but being a movie person goes above and beyond that: it involves going to see movies on opening night. It involves being okay with spending $12 on a movie ticket more than once every few months. It involves catching up on Oscar nominees in the weeks leading up to the big awards night. I do none of those things.
Because I’m now trying to be a movie person, I have a lot of catching up to do. Netflix is helping: I’ve had my account since early 2011 and I’ve checked a ton of movies off of my “must-see” list. But I ask for recommendations from my friends every few months, and with those sweeps comes a brand new slate of must-sees; these recs become more and more refined as I look to pinpoint my taste. While I only borrow one movie at a time on Netflix and instant watch can only go so far, I’ve recruited my family to help: if they see a “classic” in the discount bin or on sale for $5 or less, I ask them to pick it up for me. I leave them to define “classic” by their own terms: my father gets me Blues Brothers and Young Frankenstein, my mother gets me Ben Hur.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of those movies that has been on the list for a while, and courtesy of another family member, it was sitting collecting dust on my DVD rack. Last Thursday evening, though, I found myself idle. I had no reading or homework to complete, being between semesters. I’d read enough of Scaramouche earlier in the day that I didn’t want to break it out again. So what else was there to do but break out the bit of vanilla bean ice cream I had left in the freezer and lose myself in Paul Newman’s peepers?
I didn’t know anything about the play/movie beyond what was written on the back of the DVD case (for shame, I know). No matter, the plot was easy enough to fall right into, and golly gee, that Liz Taylor can act! The characters are the perfect mix of insufferable but entertaining: what a great way to spend an evening home alone.
If you google “define:mendacity”, the definition really sells the word short. Untruthfulness? That’s it? Surely if it was that simple Tennessee Williams wouldn’t have gotten enough mileage out of it to create an entire story. I much prefer Big Daddy’s quote (although I understand that simple definitions on google don’t have the luxury of providing context and quotes for examples.
You won’t live with mendacity? Well, you’re an expert at it! The truth is pain and sweat and payin’ bills and makin’ love to a woman that you don’t love any more. Truth is dreams that don’t come true, and nobody prints your name in the paper ’til you die.
Will we ever not live in a world where mendacity is the norm? Where you’re pleasantly surprised when someone is genuine? When being honest about something uncomfortable doesn’t come across as rude or ballsy? Maybe the ways in which we’re untruthful to others have changed, but that’s it. Maybe today we’re less about complete untruthfulness and more about being careful not to convey the whole truth. Rather than walking on eggshells in unpleasant situations, we humblebrag about our accomplishments through social media and brush our shortcomings under the rug. No one ever confesses to dreams that don’t come true in a status update: we’re all perfectly comfortable living with the mendacity of others (and pointlessly comparing our own lives to the pillars of perfection others create online).
Note: I don’t pretend I’m any different.