Animal Kingdom (2010)
Note1: The title brings to mind Thomas Szasz, the great Hungarian-American academic and psychiatrist, who famously stated, In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.
It is not easy to tell what, exactly, defines the Cody family. It ought to be – they are clearly a violent immoral bunch. It would be all too easy to say, ‘Animals, the lot of you!’, then lock them up in a cage and throw away the key. But there is also love. Buckets of the stuff. Not just the love that keeps them together – that of Smurf, the Mother of All Villains – but the love they clearly have for each other, as well as their own lives. Hiding deep inside all the devastation, there is a life that wants to be lived.
Note2: And neither it is easy to tell what had defined the Cody family. What had happened in their lives, individual as well as collective, to make them act and talk and think and feel the way they do? What could have possibly happened that would damage them so? Pope is off his medication. Are they all crazy? Should they all just take a pill and chill the fuck out?
In his book, THE MYTH OF MENTAL ILLNESS: FOUNDATIONS OF A THEORY OF PERSONAL CONDUCT (1961), Thomas Szasz wrote that “Psychiatry is conventionally defined as a medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases. I submit that this definition, which is still widely accepted, places psychiatry in the company of alchemy and astrology and commits it to the category of pseudoscience. The reason for this is that there is no such thing as mental illness... these things called mental illnesses are not diseases at all but part of the vicissitudes of life.”
If the above is true, then surely there is no point in trying to define the human kingdom. Fictional or real, we may as well just sit back and enjoy the show.
Note1: I’m tempted to just write, ‘What she said!’ and get on with my super interesting fictional life (not), except that I actually haven’t got a clue what Olga was trying to say up there, and wouldn’t wish to accidentally agree with something I don’t agree with at all.
Note2: We were in the middle of watching the first season of “Animal Kingdom”, the TV show, when Olga suddenly decided that we must stop immediately in order to watch the “original” Oz movie. Which turned out to be way better than the US show, but also kind of worse: Oz Smurf looked so chewed up and aggrieved I was actually scared to look her in the eye; the brothers were all kind of fugly and mean (although it was way easier to tell them apart then their pretty-boy US counterparts), and there were no pool parties garnished with random super hot Mexicans of both sexes.
Note3: The first-person narrative really works here. Just like it did in “Helena: The Small Town Throwdown”, where I was the one telling the whole entire story. Not Olga – me. Just so you all know.