People hear what they see

Many movies today have such short and limited runs that most of us never hear about them, especially if they are released in the shadow of some summer or holiday blockbuster flick.  That’s sad, because so many of those ‘little’ movies are really fabulous — they are unconventional, thoughtful, creative, and often showcase some incredible acting.
I’ve learned that one of the best ways to discover obscure movies that I’ll enjoy is by noting the trailers packaged with a similar movie.  Romantic comedies tend to carry previews for other sweet comedies, intelligent movies for other smart films, etc.  So when I fall in love with a film, I write down the other titles previewed on that same DVD, then put them in my Blockbuster queue.
One such film arrived last week, and on Saturday evening Cheryl and I sat down to enjoy a movie we’d never heard of:  Beyond the Sea.  It’s a biopic about Bobby Darin, a singer/actor who was popular in the late 50’s and 60’s.  Kevin Spacey (a very talented guy!) clearly has a fixation on Bobby Darin — he wrote the script, directed the movie, and starred in it, (along with Kate Bosworth who makes a stunning Sandra Dee!)

Kevin is a decade older than Bobby Darin ever was, but in this cleverly written, part-fantasy, part-musical, part-drama, part-theatre-within-a-movie, that element matters not — Kevin plays the role as both actor and narrator.  IMO, it’s a very clever device that he pulls off beautifully.
Anyway, here’s the set up for what I thought was the best line in the movie:
Bobby rises to stardom, then disappears for awhile.  He’s totally disenchanted with the world following the 1968 assassination of Bobby Kennedy, whom he adored, so he goes into seclusion to figure out life.  He emerges to make a comeback.  He’d always been successful as a clean-shaven, suit-wearing, upbeat nightclub singer.  He comes back to the stage as a mustached, balding hippie who sings anti-war ballads.  He flops.
In the dramatic sequence that follows (as he grows progressively weaker, his heart failing as a result of rheumatic fever as a child),  he laments that audiences won’t listen to his new music.  His wife says, “Bobby, people hear what they see.”  That’s it! he exclaims.  and so he sets up a new act.
Clean-shaven, with a full head of hair and a suit, he appears on stage singing “We don’t want no war” and it’s a sensation.
People hear what they see.  When he showed up as someone else and sang something unexpected, people were turned off.  When he showed up LOOKING like what people expected, they heard him in an entirely different way.  They were able to “hear” the unfamiliar thru the lens of what they already knew.
On multiple levels, this concept so appeals to me.  This explains how to shift our own behavior, how to change a relationship, even how to implement change in the workplace.  When we put something new out there in the guise of something old, we allow our brains to absorb the “different” thru the lens of familiarity.  Change feels less disruptive when we can still anchor to something we’ve seen before.
So if you’ve been living in a mood of sadness, anxiety, or fear, for instance, the most comfortable route to happiness might be THROUGH — rather than away from — that other emotion!
Till next time…

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