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I'm an NYC-based director, and this is an outlet for my various musings about theater and about the city of New York. Sometimes the subjects run together, sometimes they are entirely separate, but between the two they comprise the most fitful, most intense, most trying love affair of my few years. They fill my head, my heart, my mouth every hour of every day; they could fill a book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Black Swan: Like Center Stage, But Sillier*

Regarding Black Swan, I have but one question. Why didn't Aronofsky just own it, and cast Zoe Saldana as Lily?

(They both wear their hair in their face because they are feisty! And they break all the ballet rules!)

I also have a few observations to share.

Observation One. In her own blog post about the movie, Mariah McCarthy says, "It’s a movie where having and acting on desires makes bad things happen... Having desires doesn’t make bad things happen.Having and acting on desires makes the world go round." True, but recognizing this on more than just an intellectual level is easier said than done. Desires are terrifying. Needs are basic (I need food, shelter, love, etc.) and wants are reasonable (I want an iPhone to get more work done on the go/play games on the subway). But desires are inexplicable and uncontrollable.

Fortunately for us, most desires fall within some range of appropriate social behavior and do indeed "make the world go round." But what about when they don't? It's perfectly good, for example, for a man to desire sex with a woman. It's even all right if, provided she's into it, he desires to tie her to the bedposts and have it a little rough. But what if he desires to string her from the ceiling with meathooks and watch her die slowly? Some people do, and the fact that I don't is not owing to any particular grace or nobility or compassion on my part. I was simply lucky enough to be born right. The understanding that something so savage, so unreasonable lurks within us and the terrifying possibilities that take shape from following that little bit of knowledge down the rabbit hole is more frightening than any paranormal spook. (This, by the way, is why TV show Criminal Minds scares me too much to watch - not the contemplation of my own abduction/torture/death). I don't think Black Swan is supposed to be some kind of cautionary tale or morality play. I think it's simply an expression of how that fear runs wild in our collective imagination.

Observation Two. While watching Nina struggle to dance the Black Swan and finding herself unable to lose control and give herself over to it, I thought to myself, "Dear God, this is why I failed as an actor - I'm Nina." In my acting days I wanted nothing more to give over control to something deeper, to "feel it," as Nina describes it with her last words. But upon further reflection, I wonder if my inability to reach that moment wasn't what made me fail as an actor but what made me become one in the first place. I wonder if the people who recognize that blind, visceral piece of the human psyche and spend their lives running toward it instead of away from it are artists. And possibly religious mystics. And maybe we're not really meant to touch it at all but for some reason, some of us believe that, frightening as it is, touching it will be as divine as it is terrible.

Observation Two Point Five. Upon finishing this post, am kind of annoyed that such a silly movie inspired such Deep Thoughts. Lame.

Observation Three. I am really, really tired of people conflating dark desires with sexual desire. Dear Puritanical America, Please grow up. I'm bored. Love, Leigh.

*This is true.

PS. Actually not an insult. I love Center Stage for its pure ridiculousness and Black Swan - while I wouldn't go so far as to say I loved it - was also enjoyably ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. Black Swan is a movie where having and acting on desires makes bad thing happen. I am thankful for sharing your observation with us. This movie doesn't have a good story and cast can be put together in a better way. I will give 2.5 star to this movie.