Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snapshots: Cooperative Decision-Making and More

A post on Top Five disappeared last week. You'll understand why in awhile. It got embarrassing.

Three snapshots, all related to the movie in one way or another:

(1) catastrophic expectations,
(2) cooperative couple decision-making, and
(3) two movies we probably don't have to let our kids see.

Take it away.

1. The Catastrophic Expectation

After publishing about the new Chris Rock movie, a crazy thing happened. A catastrophic expectation came true, related to my fear that the blog would be pirated and spammed with objectionable photos.

It happened on Facebook last year. We opened the ap to find new pics, except we hadn't posted any. Thousands, mortified. Facebook rectified the situation immediately. But if this happens to me, what do I do? Delete years of psycho-education?

I pushed "publish" for the Top Five review, but probably because of the word (in bold yet) that starts with a "p", ends with an "n" and has an "or" in the middle, Google Ads paired it with a Sugar M____ies ad. (Think blood relation, not Daddies).  Soft ___ but definitely not so nice.

I'm upset by the betrayal. This is a family blog and kids love to mine it for content that they can plagiarize for their school essays.The ad is close to a realization of my catastrophic expectation (one of many, I'm Jewish). In therapy we use catastrophic expectations to manage anxiety, not exacerbate it.The patient discusses the expectation and we work together on what to do if it comes true.

This calls for an emergency treatment plan: Delete Google Ads entirely from the blog?  Sure. Because really, nobody cares.

I apologize if any of you saw anything you didn't sign up for. Life in the fast lane, what can I say.

2. Couple Decision Making

Choosing a movie with someone you love can be exasperating. Yet cooperative couple decision-making separates the solvent couples from those who will ultimately dissolve. (I think I read this somewhere, someone remind me.)

A popular intervention to bring couples closer, help them understand one another and love each other more, relies upon exposure therapy, a form of desensitization. Force the partner who hates violence to sit through a violent movie, then the one who hates romantic comedies has to sit through one of those, Legally Blond, maybe.

This is just dumb, as interventions go, imho, and I'm a CBT therapist, one who relies heavily on exposure therapies. But the reason some of us resist seeing certain genres of film is that we have already seen a few samples, and we don't like them. We know we hate violence, we know we hate mush. We've suffered enough. A date is supposed to be fun.

So it is back to the intervention tool chest. Here we find that when couples disagree there is always something in-between, either a compromise or an alternative solution, the product of a good brain-storm. That, or don't go to the movies together, see a play. (There is a post somewhere in the archives about recreational intimacy, check it out.) Frankly, I suggest people see movies with like-minded movie-goers, else why would we even have labels like chick flicks and Westerns. But some guys rarely go to the movies with buddies, they go to a bar. 


The story goes that December 24 is traditionally a time for Jews to go to the movies or play poker. FD and I are home a little earlier than usual. I want to pull him away from Law and Order reruns, begin the dialogue.

" I need to get out. And it is Xmas eve. A movie?"

He scratches his chin. "We haven't seen a movie in over a year." As in, why wreck a good thing?

"Speak for yourself. Some of us have friends."

He doesn't remind me that my dates for Big Hero 6 were five and ten years old, respectively. It was really good.

"I hear Wild is interesting," he offers, hoping to be helpful. "A Reese Witherspoon tour de force."

"Yeah, I read the book. which was good. But what about Selma? I really want to see that."

"Not out yet, sorry." He's polite.

"Wild will be scenic, which is good, a big movie. But there's is that heroin thing."

"Heroin?" he asks.

"Yeah. A little too much like work for me, watching people go through their addictions. But maybe."

He's got another idea. "How about Mr. Turner? It's about an eccentric artist. Got a great review in the Wall Street Journal."  FD devours the Journal.

I check it out, find it is two and a half hours long. "No go. Long. What about  Exodus: Gods and Kings? That has to be a big movie, if not exactly a thriller."

"Sure, but the this one is light on the miracles, the Red Sea parting is a trickle. No competition between a trickle and the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner."

"True enough. Yul Brynner in that, wow."  Agreement, take note, we're agreeing, but on what not to see. So not very helpful.

He perks up. "Before I left the office tonight a patient strongly suggested Big Eyes."

"Nah, saw the trailer and now it feels like buying a ticket is superfluous. Plus the movie is about financial abuse of women, not at the top of my list of things to think about right now. I need escape, not cringe."

"But everything makes you cringe," he counters.

"Not Babe: Pig in the City."


"We're stuck. Let's call in some experts."

When you are stuck, it is good to ask advice from other people. They don't have to be experts. Family and friends will do, and they may be experts on you.

So I text my daughter who is probably leaving Wild just about now.
Did you like WILD?
Good, but a little slow and felt long.

I text my son, who knows my sensibilities, ask him what I might like.

Whiplash, about a young drummer, has come and gone,m and we should see Annie with a younger person, too, for perspective. Into the Woods with Streep and that kid from Glee, how can this be a disappointment?  But it is, apparently.

We will have to go with the fail safe, Eeny Meeny Miney Moe, always a good decision-making strategy. We land on Top Five.

 (3) Two Movies We Probably Don't Have to Let Our Kids See (and may not choose for ourselves on an annual trip to the movies).

The first of the two: Top Five

We are not alone and it is almost show time. The parking lot is mobbed. Apparently, everyone tries to skip out on family Xmas eve. There are at least ten people here to see Top Five, everyone else chose one of the other six shows at the AMC.

Still, the conflict in the movie is smart enough:
Dare we risk turning away from what we're good at, maybe great at, to break into something new, something unfamiliar, yet important, something that matters?
Andre Allen (Chris Rock) is good at comedy, but he wants to shift to movies that tell untold stories, serious film-making. The problem? His fans won't fall into step. They want to laugh.

This isn't Michael Jordan leaving basketball to play baseball.

Andre, who is a changed man, no longer uses alcohol. In the past he used it for courage, perhaps even to overcome performance anxiety. No longer. He's just going to switch artistic venues and not tell anyone.

Laced throughout the film are cameos of movie and television stars, comedians, and rappers. Not knowing much about rappers, for me, this is a needed education, will help me relate better to young people who rap. You know who you are.

The cameos are cute, but the stories that make up the narrative are so sad. Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson, wonderful) is a journalist looking for Andre's real story, the story of his past. Hers, meanwhile, is about her choice to be exploited, her low self-esteem so low she participates in things she doesn't want to do, just to keep a relationship. The stuff of addiction, surely, but not only addiction. You know this person.

The things she's done? Not hings you want your kids to see, unless you think they are traumatic-snapshot-memory averse.

Andre's story about hitting bottom is embarrassing, humiliating. Sad. And we see all of the story in the film. We see so much we begin to wonder why we came. If we thought Chelsea's issues tough to watch, Andre's are worse. 

The kids will want to see the rappers. But they'll see lots more.

Second, Mocking Jay Part One

My daughter and son-in-law are leaving town for a few days and FD and I volunteer to watch the kids. It is Thanksgiving break and their 12-year-old has high hopes that we will take him to see Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part One.

I can't do it, even though I suspect it is probably harmless, know he has seen as much on television, probably worse. His video games are probably violent and graphic. But holding onto principles, I risk the silent treatment for three days and say no. Children killing children. No.

He doesn't even try to ask FD, and works on me instead. It is admirable, his assertiveness. He brings up going to the movie, I say no, he drops it. He brings it up again, I say no, he drops it. Each time I say, "Dude! This is the stuff of nightmares. Let your parents be home when you have the nightmares."

It isn't good. But I hold my ground and a few weeks later buy him a solid round of books with content similar to Hunger Games for Chanukah. Anything to get him to read. It helps to have a children's librarian in the family.

Finally, Xmas day, his mom takes his younger brothers to Annie, and his father takes him to see Mocking Jay. Great. If he has to see the movie, let him be with his dad.

I pop over later and he throws his arms around me, already a break from tradition. (We share an obsession with the Ninja Pro blender and make smoothies, so it isn't as if there's nothing in common.).

"What did you think of Mocking Jay?" I ask, fully expecting to hear it is amazing.

He is dying to tell me.

"At first it was boring, nothing especially great, really. Blah. Then, the last 20 minutes. OMG. I was TERRIFIED. I was freaking out! I was SO scared!"

"Do you wish you hadn't seen it?"

"Yup. Annie would have been better."

Yes, for sure. For both of us.


That list of books for kids 7th grade and up. Note, these are for kids who devoured The Hunger Games but hate reading any other type of books.

Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone by Pfeffer
The House of Scorpion by Farmer
Trash by Andy Mulligan (her favorite)
Gone by Michael Grant
Legend by Lu
Unwind by Shusterman (she's iffy about it-- she uses that word, Terrifying, thinks it might be for older kids)


Unknown said...

Hi Therapydoc - came across your blog by link-hopping, and glad I did!

Re: Couple decision-making-
I agree with you 100% about the movies.
My wife and I have only the smallest group of overlapping interests when it comes to movies, books, TV, etc. Neither of us truly understand the need for couples to compromise or "take turns" with outings. We're perfectly content to see movies/shows of our chosen genres without one another (but with friends, or even alone), and spend time together doing things that we'll both enjoy, with little compromise.

therapydoc said...

This is why one tv is never enough. But I have to say there is nothing more intimate than actually finding a TV show you both really like. Or one really likes and the other can tolerate

Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts