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Saturday, June 25, 2005
"Okay. Here's something you may not know... shooting out the tires of a runaway RV is a lot harder than it looks..."
Earlier this week, Becky wrote a post about the movie He Said, She Said, starring the most-working man in Hollywood, Kevin Bacon.

Before she posted about the film, I'd not seen it, though I was aware of the hook of the film--the story of a relationship as told through the perspective of both parties involved. (I watched it last night out for the first time and have to admit I enjoyed it) Of course, we're supposed to find some humor in the wildly different ways in which certain events unfold on screen through the different perspectives of the man and the woman in the relationship. One of the most interesting things is how both parties perceive who made the first move--in his version of events, he asked her out while in her version of events, she asked him out.

Of course, in both cases, the stories do diverge a bit, even in relating the same series of events. Which brings up the question--just where does the truth of the matter reside?

Thinking about this question brought to mind one of my favorite quotes from Babylon Five.

"A Vorlon said 'Understanding is a three edged sword.' Your side, their side and the truth"

This quote has rattled around in my brain the past couple of days for a variety of reasons. As has the premise of He Said, She Said and one of my all time favorite episode of The X-Files, "Bad Blood" (that's where the quote comes from that serves as the title for this post). For those of you who may not have seen "Bad Blood" or don't know every episode of The X-Files by name, "Bad Blood" is one of the "humorous" episodes. Mulder and Scully head down to a small town in Texas to investigate what appear to be a cult of people who think they're vampires who are attacking cattle and now tourists.

The story starts with Mulder pursing someone who is, apparently a vampire. He catches up to the kid, stakes him and then finds out that the vampire teeth are fakes. We then go to D.C. a day later and hear Mulder and Scully sharing their versions of the events as they get ready to meet with Assistant Director Skinner to explain their actions.

The humor comes from how each person perceives themselves and the events. In Scully's version of the story, she is the long-suffering one doing all the behind the scenes work while Mulder spouts of partial theories out of thin air, causing eye-rolling by all he encounters. Also in her version, the sheriff (played by Luke Wilson) is an attractive man who flirts with her. In Mulder's version, he sees Scully as moody and combatitive--challenging his every theory and acting bored while he pontificates on the origin and nature of vampires to the sheriff and others, all who appear interested in what he has to say (except Scully, of course). Also, in his version, the sheriff is buck-toothed and has a Texas drawl and Scully is throwing herself at him.

One other interesting note--as Mulder is attacked by the vampire, Scully comes back in. She shoots and from her point of view, misses three or four times. From Mulder's point of view (he's drugged by the pizza), he sees the bullets hit the vampire in question (turns out the whole town is vampires) and he leaps through the air to get Scully and escape.

Now, the concept of having a story told from multiple perspectives is nothing new. It's was done way back in Roshomon and it's a concept that certainly doesn't grow old, if done right. (I do remember seeing an episode of Momma's Family with the same, central premise as it were...only hilarity did not ensue).

What interests me about it is a couple of things. The first is, the perception of ourselves. In each of the stories, it's not so much what happens as how we filter the events through our own perceptions and biases. That is something that I've had to think about when it comes to disagreeing with people--it's not they are necessarily wrong, it's that they don't have the world-view that I do. They don't have the same expereinces I do and so they are going to come at things from a different perspective. Again, it doesn't make it wrong or right--it just makes it how they see things.

I think where the important issue comes to bear is how do these two world views come together. Indeed, I am not a person who seeks out people who radically disagree with what I think or feel. In a relationship, as we see with He Said, She Said, each side has different views, but fundamentally, they agree on the important things and can, thus, have a deeper romantic relationship. Indeed, early on we see that Kevin Bacon's character only wants the physical side and could care less about connecting with someone until he connects with Elizabeth Perkin's character. Even after they've had a major melt-down fight and he could go back to his old ways by having a meaningless tryst with an old girlfreind, he chooses not to because he realizes that he wants more than just a one-night thing.

Also of interest is that in a couple of key scenes, the two see things virtually the same way. There is one defining moment in the relationship and movie and it's presented from both sides and is, virtually identical. Early on, it's established that Kevin Bacon's character wakes up on occasion at 4:15 a.m. with night terrors. We also find out that Elizabeth Perkin's character sleep walks and does wacky stuff that she won't remember later. At a key point, Bacon wakes up with night terrors. Perkins asks what is wrong and he says it's nothing. She then babbles on about cheesecake and he agrees. She lays back down and he realizes she won't remember this later so he allows himself to be vulnerable to her emotionally. She then gets up to get the cheesecake and we later find out that she was actually awake for this, but was faking her insanity to keep him at ease. (Yes, I've just ruined some of the film for you, but since my copy had a preview for Star Trek VI that came out in 1991 on it, I'm not too worried about it).

I found it interesting that as wildy different as these two saw other things, that this one important thing plays out the same in both versions--bascially, Bacon's profession of love is word for word the same in both versions and it's played the same.

Looking at it, we see that fundamentally, this is what makes these two work. Because they see eye to eye on the fundmanentals...it's just that both have a different thought process on figuring out what is important to both of them and different ways of relating it.

We also see that in The X-Files episode. Both Mulder and Scully are right about what happened.

In the end, in any relationship, the truth lies in the middle. It's something I have to remember in my daily interaction with family, friends and others. Just because I fundamentally think its the truth, doesn't mean its necessarily the truth to you. This perspective has certainly helped me at times and the times I've not kept in mind, it's not led to good results.

As The X-Files says, "The Truth Is Out There..."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/25/2005 11:55:00 AM | |
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