Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spaceteam, Noah, The Walking Dead, & Why You Still Can't Cry At Work

Yesterday I was listening to The Kane show, Hot 99.5 here in DC, during my drive-time commute. It's a great radio program because they manage to cover the hippest and hottest news and also squeeze in a fair number of gotcha games and pranks. Not to mention gossip.

In any case they were talking about this new app called Spaceteam. It's essentially a game where you and up to 4 teammates have to build a spaceship, except your teammates have some of the tools you need, and you have their. You have to play it while you're physically together in a room. According to one caller at least, the app seriously damaged a close relationship as she and her boyfriend wound up shouting at each other to build the ship. (Of course the shouting is the point of the game, or why would you build an app that requires you to get stuff off of your friend's smartphone?)

It led me to think about how social media, digital media, and immersive game environments are morphing and also changing the way we relate to each other. First there was the isolated person-behind-a-computer model. Then there was the relate-to-each-other-but-not-in-person model. Then there was competitive or cooperative gaming, again not in person. Now we have games where the other person is in the actual room with you - which seems to really flip the idea of virtual worlds on their head.

It's almost like we're back in the arcade playing two-person shooter games, and this is an extension? But then again, the interaction is a must. You can't build the ship without it.

It's socially acceptable to shout. Not nice, but acceptable. People shout at work.

People don't cry at work. You're not supposed to do that. There is a book about this by Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People's Revolution (a PR Firm), called If You Have To Cry Go Outside (And Other Lessons Your Mother Never Told You). It's a great book.

Of course nobody will tell you that crying is shameful. And it should not be shameful at all. Somebody said to me the other day, "Crying is a sign that you've uncovered a great truth." I would think that truthfulness would be better than aggression, but it seems we are still sexist enough a society that crying looks like weakness while shouting appears to be strength.

This is the struggle in Noah, essentially a movie about defining what it means to be a man. Noah is stoic - he does not cry. He sees himself as a servant of G-d, and tells his children "we take only what we need" from the Earth. The bad guy, the other king who wants to "take the Ark" for himself, says that G-d has abandoned Man (Man, not Woman, whom Man is supposed to dominate, along with the animals and the land). The bad guy sharpens his sword in a red-hot fire and shouts - a lot.

And finally there is The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode "A." In this episode the main character, Rick, who has steadfastly refused shouting and aggression in favor of reason and the law, transforms when his son is about to be raped by an evil band of thugs. He cannot stand back anymore. Like Carol, who burned the sick people without asking the Council first, Rick has to do what he has to do to protect his family, to survive, and more than that to avenge his son's honor.

When it's done, Rick does not yell. He sits there stunned, covered in blood. Noah gets drunk and slumps on the sand, spent, in a stupor. Which leads me to ask, after all the shouting and the silence, if there is not a better way. Which we see in Noah's wife (played by Jennifer Connelly), who of course has no name, because she is a Woman, and is only pertinent in this story as a supporting character.

But her crying is where the movie turns around. She challenges Noah, and asks how he can make a certain decision (I won't give it away) without considering all the ramifications.

Noah's wife cries when she challenges him, and it is the best scene in the movie. Her tears run down her face, the snot comes out of her nose, and she is not ashamed of it. She is righteous and strong and not weak in the least.

What if we could cry more at work, and discover great truths before we make mistakes? Before we cry about those mistakes afterward?

* All opinions my own. Positive reviews are not endorsements. No endorsement expressed or implied.