In seminary I took a class on theology and film. It was one my favorite classes because it brought the academic rigor of theology down to the real life issues portrayed in films. Films today have the power to communicate like nothing else we have. They are arguably our most prominent form of storytelling.
Some of us like movies that remove us from our own experience—movies where we can pretend to be the main character, even though the storyline is so far from real life. Those movies usually end up leaving us with a feeling of happiness, or heroism, or with the idea that all of sudden we now have the ability to jump our cars over drawbridges or something else crazy like that!
Those movies suspend reality—they draw us out of our own experiences.
But then there are the films that drive us straight into the experiences of our life. These films are usually a bit more artistically directed, and don’t necessarily require a huge budget for special effects or high paid actors and actresses. But we love them because we connect to them. They don’t necessarily make us feel happy, or heroic, but by portraying part of our story, they have this way of letting us know that we’re not alone in our pain.
Oftentimes, movies like this don’t even try to answer the “why” question. In fact, if there were a nice, neat reason for whatever tragedy occurred in the movie, it would make the entire film seem that much less believable. But becauseof the tragedy, and because of the raw emotion, and because of the messiness, we are drawn into this type of movie because it connects with our own experience.
It doesn’t have to answer the question, “Why?” and yet it still make us feel better because we know what we aren’t alone.
In one of the most viewed TED talks online, researcher Brene Brown says that the two most powerful words in the world are, “Me too.”
Me too. When someone tells us the words, “Me too,” we are immediately drawn out of our loneliness and connected to someone by a mutual experience.
And I think, in a way, we connect to these tragic films because they artistically portray those two words: “Me too.”
Sometimes, the most powerful words you can say to a friend in the midst of a tragic experience are not those that try to answer the question, “Why?” but are simply those two words that provide the profound gift of empathy: “Me too.”