Chuck’s Place: New Models Of Possibility

The answer is true connection... - Art by Jan Ketchel
The answer is true connection…
– Art by Jan Ketchel

Having read the synopsis of Don Jon, I was curious as to how the movie might address a major relationship challenge of our time: addiction to internet pornography.

The movie was energetically rajasic, difficult to stomach, however, it managed to realistically offer an insight into the core challenge of porn addiction and how to go about addressing it. The main male character, who had a very active sex life, even a relationship with Scarlett Johansson—who I later learned has twice been announced the sexiest woman on earth by Esquire magazine—preferred pornography to an actual flesh and blood person because it allowed him the freedom to lose himself in masturbation rather than have to face the challenge of intimate connection. The antidote to his fixation was to learn to actually look into the eyes of his partner and feel a genuine connection.

When I recently spoke with my daughter, currently completing her graduate studies in Social Work, I suggested that she view the movie as part of her own clinical education. She called me the next day to inform me that her boyfriend had preferred to see Gravity, and so they saw that instead. “Dad, why didn’t I go into science… there’s so much more out there,” she expressed excitedly. “We’re just a tiny part of it all!” She went on to share a dream she’d had after seeing the movie.

“I was with friends at the ocean,” she said. “We wanted to create a whirlpool. We started making the whirlpool. I was the furthest out in the ocean. Remember, Dad, when we were in the Hudson River and we struggled with the current. You always warned me about the undertow. Well, it got me in the ocean. I was pulled away. Suddenly a voice inside me said, ‘Just let go,’ and I did. I let go and I was fine.”

I was so struck by her experience and dream that off we went to see Gravity the next day. I have never seen a movie where the lead actor is a woman astronaut in space. What an amazing experience! And I could see the impact such an image could have on a young woman’s imagination of what she might really do in this life. Just a week before, I had been drawn to read an article in the New York Times—Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?—lamenting the paucity of women in science. One causal suggestion from this article was the lack of female models that one would feel comfortable realistically identifying with. Sandra Bullock’s performance may open a new era of models for girls and women to free themselves into new vistas of possibility. Had my daughter been a child today, she might actually have chosen to go into the sciences after seeing this movie with this strong female lead.

The lessons of Don Jon may offer men, as well, freedom from the stuckness and control of two-dimensional images as they challenge themselves to open to the immense possibilities of real life intimacy. These two movies, as diverse as they are from each other, hold similar messages: don’t ever underestimate the possibilities!

Enjoying the movies, and the possibilities too,

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