Are Dysfunctional Relationships The New Normal?

It’s difficult to label this movie as something that provokes an easy laugh. Rather it is the kind of movie that forces you to have a peculiar or uncharacteristic reaction that’s completely unnecessary, to begin with. And this aspect is the whole and sole of why Margot At The Wedding caught me off guard.

Beside the point, I specifically chose to write about the illuminating reality of conversations that bind the idiosyncrasies of two people in a kind of relationship that defines nothing but eccentric consequences. The characters walk in zig-zag lines to not only observe but shackle the bond of beauty itself into something self-serving and conceited. In short, you’ll find yourself bound to misery in its fullest dimensions. That is precisely what a dysfunctional relationship ought to explore as a deeply exhaustive yet thoughtful concept. Perhaps becoming unaffected to a point where showing little to no concern in matters besides yourself is the greatest normalcy of life, as we know it.

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The clever insanity and indifference portrayed is not shocking, but seems too real to be true. The kind of dispassion each character provokes in another through brutal honesty and constant justification humiliates the conventional families that are often plotted on-screen.

This same logic applies to Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).

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I loved the unorthodox display of unanswered affection and unresolvable temperaments of each character. At this point, I feel a part of me exists as all the characters in the movie, including Malcolm, Ingrid, Jim, and Pauline. Margot and Claude taking the leading positions in my frame of mind.

In whichever way the concept of “family” is portrayed in this movie, it certainly sticks, in my way of thinking, as the epitome of perceiving the out-of-the-ordinary as completely familiar and relatable. There’s more than just seeing, but feeling the characters unravel in front of your eyes in-between the socially awkward, yet seductive, language of storytelling. And that’s one of the expert functions of good films like Noah Baumbach’s Margot At The Wedding and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Both exquisite tools of knowing how often people wish to be confronted by their harsh and unwavering realities, within their own limits, regardless of how much or how little they care for it.

The Scrutiny of Restricted Worldliness

Leo Tolstoy wrote in his beautiful work War and Peace, “Everything depends on upbringing.”

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A child’s personal identity, biologically and physiologically, unique and gentle – the years that create long and inevitable passages of perspective – are found and lost right from the start. It is a part of a metaphorical maze, that a child shouldn’t meander alone. The discipline of unraveling diverse and visceral cultures – that which also includes threads of languages and chronicle of events – is more important to be felt by a child rather than learned. This sparks imagination as much as it does temperament. But how soon is “the right time” to impact a child’s inner nature with stimulus resistive and nullifying, while also being realistic?

This question is deeply exemplified and astutely apparent in Black Mirror’s Arkangel, which is the second episode of the latest fourth season. The ability to blur out graphics that might elevate Sara’s cortisol levels, like in the episode it was the neighbor dog who barked incessantly whenever Sara walked past, sheds light on the general idea of parenting in this world. Anything that is considered, by the society, of course, a potential danger or stress-inducing experience to the community increases a sense of fear, anxiety, and mental and bodily distraction in children. A few examples pointed out in this episode were the suffering and finally death of a grandparent, porn, blood, or violence. Anything that stunts emotional growth, or at least is believed to, leads to the disorientation of the thing that constituted that kind of restrictive technology itself.

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This begs you to answer a question – what you do the same for your child if you had the resources to? Such kind of restrictive worldliness has its own consequences. The upbringing based on exposing a child to only good things and avoiding and unwaveringly pushing away the bad stuff disrupts the wholeness of a child’s identity.

This reminds me of a powerful passage which extracts the importance of negativity and teaching the perspective of it in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.”

But just as negativity impacts a child’s emotional and mental cognitive capacity, the complex intricacies of the mind and the core human tendency are deeply impacted, and not in a positive way, without the very things that arouse negative feelings such as guilt, regret, tension, worry, and all forms of psychological distresses. In experiencing the present moment, as real and unrestricted as it may be, in either speech, thought, or observation builds a sense of present-moment awareness. This is significant, I strongly believe, in the acceptance and non-acceptance of what is. As it habitually alters a child’s inwardness toward all aspects of life, it also contributes to the child’s narrative which, unconsciously, constructs what makes each human unique.

Even though experiences, when analyzed, hold together a set of emotions in each of us, the reasoning, sense, and readiness are still left unhindered. The ease with which a child navigates the unmitigated realities of existing between choices and people is what matters. And the kind of environment parents, siblings, and relatives bring into existence for a young soul remains the serious and most important quest for parenthood.