Image description: Deadpool without his mask
We loved Deadpool. We thought it was a wildly funny movie and thought that Ryan Reynolds’ performance made the movie. I found, in a movie that was all violence, wise cracks and wink wink humour, that there was a moment of profound truth. I didn’t expect, going in, to ever identify with any character that Mr. Reynolds ever played. I mean, I’m fat, I’m old, I’m bald and I’m disabled, Mr. Reynolds isn’t any of those things. Sometimes I think these guys and I aren’t even the same species. But, I was wrong.
I don’t believe this to be a spoiler but, be cautious going forward if you haven’t seen the film, there was a moment of incredible and powerful truth in a movie that never presents itself as anything more than a fun night out. I thought that sneaking it in was almost a ‘nod’ to those of us who actually live with and understand the complex aspects of being different. I would like to think it purposeful, but I fear it may not have been. It is an easy scene to be described. Deadpool, before he was Deadpool was a wildly handsome man, who looked a lot like Ryan Reynolds on his very best day. Along with his transformation into a superhero came a transformation into a man with physical and facial differences. He still turned heads, but for a different reason.
In the scene, he simply walks down the street, face uncovered, unmasked. He notices the looks, the stares, the dropped jaws and the features of disgust on faces turned away. He notices them, he feels them and they hurt. In the theatre I was in I could hear, literally hear, people respond to this scene. It was a fairly full theatre so saying I could hear the gasps and murmurs of disapproval of the behaviours of those on the screen. The audience saw their reaction and they identified with his feelings and understood that what those people on the street did to Deadpool was simply wrong.
I leaned over to Joe at this moment in the movie and said, “Boy, don’t I understand what’s happening here.” Joe, who tires of the stares and judgements of the passers by and the stand and gawkers in the same way I do, nodded in hearty agreement.
But then … immediately after, it was back to the fun and I was swept away on the ride. I loved it, so did Joe. I was pleased for that moment, and I was pleased they didn’t preach about it, showing it was enough, acknowledging it was really reaffirming an a way.
When we left the theatre, that very same audience who had reacted with understanding and concern for a FICTIONAL CHARACTER WHO DIDN’T REALLY EXIST AND WHO DOESN’T REALLY HAVE HUMAN FEELINGS, immediately did the same with me. They turned, they stared, they had judgement on their faces and bathroom scales for eyes.
Before I left the theatre. As I sat politely and waited for a break in the line up of people coming down the stairs, I endured stares. One woman almost stumbled because she was staring/glaring at me as she made a step.
What the freaking fuck?
Empathy, understanding and care for a fictional person who endures social violence and then perpetrating the same thing on a living breathing feeling person.
It tells me that people have the ability to be compassionate and kind and that there are those who are purposefully not using it.
We have a long way to go.
But, now, we’ve got Deadpool on the team.