Sunday, March 18, 2012

Unfortunately Something's Got to Give

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962. She left a legacy, but did you also know that she left in the middle of making a movie that would forever go unfinished? Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin starred in the film that would be her final curtain call. The title -- ever so unfortunately appropriate -- was "Something's Got To Give."

Because in life, something always does give. Not always in a good way, either.

Just now, I'm following four timely trending stories of human limitations and the horror of being pushed past a boundary. These stories may appear unrelated, but in my mind, they are all similar examples of human fragility; stories that clearly depict someone who hit a limit in life. Because at the end of the day, you never know what will give or what it will take but rest assured, there will be a continued need to "fight to stay human."

1. The first story is the horrible tragedy of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate tormented him via social media and a webcam. Clementi's crime? He was gay.

2. The second story is the video that went viral. Not the Kony 2012 video, but the one that more recently made the news because the creator of the viral Kony video did something no one would have dreamed. Sure, he set out to change the world with love, but he ended up getting naked in the hot sun.

3. The third story is of Staff Sgt Robert Bales, the soldier deployed on his 4th mission to high-combat zones in the Middle East. You may not recognize his name, but he is the soldier making global news after recently being charged with leaving his post in the middle of the night to kill innocent people. Who would do that? Someone who obviously lost their mind.

4. The final story is of Fabrice Muamba, the 23-year-old soccer star that collapsed and apparently died on the field during a FA Cup quarterfinal in London. Bolton team statements are being reTweeted live as medical teams work to bring this young man back to life. What failed? His heart.

The thing is, you never know who drew the last straw until it's in your hand. And then what? Likely, it's too late.


The funny thing is, the movie that claimed the life and times of Marilyn Monroe was titled "Something's Got to Give," and most people think it's a stoic tale of just that. The idea that fragile humans can only take so much and then -- poof -- it's too late, it's all gone. But that's not the case. For this movie, at least. The movie, as it turns out, was a remake of another tale told in the 1940's called, "My Favorite Wife;" a comedy of sorts about a wife who returns to her husband (played by Cary Grant) and two kids after some time away only to find him getting married and all of life to have kept going in her most unfortunate absence. (I think she was on an abandoned island or something. It's not really part of the plot except to illustrate how powerful human emotions are even after the heavy weight of time separates two people.) It's a comedy because hysterical scenes of hullaballoo ensue and at the end of it all, the original married couple gets back together all as it should be. Helps the audience think it's funny, too, because everyone is "whole" at the end of it all.

But in life, and in art, things are never as "whole" as they may seem. Cases in point above.

One last thing: "My Favorite Wife," was an adaptation of Tennyson's 1860's-based narrative poem called "Enoch Arden," an ode to a fisherman who went missing at sea for more than 10 years after taking on a risky assignment that he had hoped would lead to better times for his beloved family. Instead, after great hardship and turmoil, Enoch claws his way home to learn that his wife has married his longtime childhood rival, started a new family and a new life without him and not even his children remember the dad they once kissed goodbye. Indeed, his decision to sacrifice for the betterment of the family meant real serious sacrifice for poor Enoch.  Eventually, Enoch dies alone and never dares to disrupt the domestic felicity he discovered. Because while his heart was broken, he knew not that his beloved wife could survive such a cruel twist of fate.