Beauty in Brokenness

(10) Ferris.jpg

Sometimes I feel like Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as he stares into the eyes of that little girl in that painting in that art museum—staring, searching for some meaning beyond what lies at the surface, looking for an answer, maybe? But other times, I’m definitely Ferris in that I see what’s in front of me, I enjoy it, and then I move on with my life and possibly climb on a parade float and sing “Danke Schoën.”

Both of these attitudes toward art, literature, movies, and other things to be enjoyed are valid attitudes; however, I think that we are often a little too prone to be the Cameron, as we search and analyze in an attempt to find the deeper meaning.  

I feel like, at Covenant especially, and in the general hipster/indie/reformed community as a whole, there is this pressure to dig deep, and to find that deeper meaning. I think that’s great.

But this tendency can lead us to be like the double-rainbow guy—shouting to the heavens “what does it mean?” and analyzing and overanalyzing in an attempt to force meaning into something that might mean nothing. What’s wrong with just sitting back and enjoying the humor and amazing tunes that come out of Guardians of the Galaxy? Sometimes it’s definitely okay to just enjoy things for what they are.

Robert Frost was also a big advocate for simply letting things be as they are. In his poem “Mowing”, he says he “left the hay to make,” meaning he is leaving his poetry to lie. There’s no deep, secret meaning behind it. It’s simply a piece of art to be enjoyed, and it means what it says. That is to say, art doesn’t have to have utility. It can be just a beautiful thing to be gazed at, without the pressure of being questioned about what it means. 

I think it’s more than just enjoying something beautiful without criticizing it; sometimes, we should enjoy something that’s broken and mangled because of or in spite of it being a broken, mangled mess.

Stephen Bankson recently wrote an article regarding the pleasantness that comes with enjoying the simplicity of average writing with a fun plot line. This idea also bleeds over into movies and music. I am referring to those movies that qualify as our “guilty pleasures.” For me, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Never Been Kissed, and Star Wars: Episode II fall into this category.

But what makes us feel guilt for them? Why are they our “guilty pleasures” and not simply “a thing enjoyed?” Why should we feel guilty for popping in a good movie in all of its brokenness, awful plotlines, and Jar Jar Binks, and just enjoying it?

As a community, we often discuss seeing the beauty in brokenness. So let’s do that with really terribly made movies that make us laugh. I’m not saying that we should go out and watch movies filled with debauchery (like any Adam Sandler movies) just because we enjoy it; but I do think that there’s something kind of beautiful about a good, cheesy, guilty pleasure that’s there simply to enjoy, not to overanalyze.