Directed by Sydney Pollack (1969)
by Francis Friel,
The Projectionist at Moviejawn
From the time we're born we are told we can be something, or somebody, or we can win the grand prize. As long as we fill everything out correctly, show up on time, follow the rules, find a suitable (to everyone else) partner for ourselves, and Just Keep Moving, we'll somehow, someday be the Big Winner.
We can take breaks, though. Fifteen minutes here or there, to sit or sleep or pee or smoke or walk around. But just fifteen minutes, then back to work. People are counting on you.
Sometimes, if you pay money, you can actually enter to win More Money! It's easy usually, and just requires that you sit down and fill something out (correctly) and pay a little bit up front, but the payday... oh my god it could be huge!
You can make friends, too. Making friends is important. They may not be always be the people you would've chosen. Maybe it's just the kid who sat next to you in kindergarten who ended up being your lifelong best friend. But you have so many common interests, that can't be a coincidence, right? Or, you grew into those common interests together (c'mon, think, Dummy). But they're still your friends. You never know.. people can surprise you.
And, yeah, there'll be people who get on your last goddam fucking nerve but that's part of it, too. Whatthefuckyagunnado, right? But pay attention too, cause you might learn something from those people (I mean, probably not, but it's possible. At the very least, you'll learn how not to be like them).
You can have the fun of going to school and a job and having people sit behind desks or in front of desks or on stages and bark orders at you. Maybe they even start changing the rules at random, just when you'd learned how to do it the old way.. The way it's always been done. Maybe there will be Fun Contests! Or maybe someone gets expelled or fired! So much fun! So much fun little drama to break up the almost unbearable drudgery! Drudgery you signed up for, by the way. Because the thought of not working or somehow contributing to society in some kind of meaningful and last way is absolutely unthinkable. You have to play to win. You have to at least TRY.
But yes, you get breaks. You can hang out. Maybe you run into a classmate or co-worker you don't normally talk to. Maybe they're a grade above yours, or in another department. And you make some small connection. Maybe it only lasts for a couple smoke breaks over a couple weeks. Then it's gone. But it's there. And they're a real person now. And you're real to them.
You get so tired, though. All the running around. The jumping, hopping, dancing, rocking back n forth. Running and waiting. Always with the same partner. Maybe you get tired of your partner. But you stay together cause that's just how it is. Maybe you remember why you chose each other (did you even really choose each other... so hard to remember... so tired these days). But you keep going. In any event, you always keep going. Because you have to play to win. And winning is all important.
Maybe there's things you don't know, though? Maybe there is no winner. Maybe the game is rigged. Or, if not rigged... you never knew all the rules. You thought you did. Or did you? Did you really think that? Or did just just pay just enough attention to hear the part about how you might win that you never bothered to find out the rest of how thing whole thing worked? It's not your fault. It's a common problem. It happens to all of us. But the game is rigged. Well, okay, technically, it's not rigged. You've had every opportunity to ask questions. To educate yourself about things. But you've just been so busy trying to win. Or at least, if you've given up on winning, trying to just stay in the game like everybody else. You've made it this far. Just keep going for one ore lap. Do that enough times and you're still staying ahead of all those losers who dropped out of the game so long ago. Or maybe they figured out the game was rigged. But those people are crazy. Game can't be rigged. Can't be
But it is. But even so, there's still got to be a winner, right? Someone has to come out on top. Otherwise what was the point of this whole thing?
And at the end of the race, when you're tired and ready to finally take a rest, a real rest, the one you've waited for your whole life, you can finally breathe. You can put your feet up. You can relax. FINALLY.
It's all been leading up to this. The last final moment. When you can at least look around and say, I've been dancing my whole life, but I'm GOOD at dancing! Remember all those people? Who floated in and out of my life, some even paid money! Cause I was good at something! But then they'd always leave... And now you're so tired. Of being tired. Of being a spectacle for others to marvel at. Or gawk at. Or not even notice.
Maybe at the end you don't put your feet up. You don't get a sigh of relief. You don't even get to remember how good you were at the one thing you ever did that mattered to you. Maybe you just get a bullet to the head.