Today I went to see the movie Milk with my mother. Sean Penn gave a truly wonderful performance, and I was quite impressed with my fellow Bruin James Franco's performance as well. The movie really moved me (OK, I will admit it publicly here that I was in tears twice during the movie) and it led to a great discussion with my mother afterwards.
She goes to Saddleback Church (the one with pastor Rick Warren who has the left and the gay community all up in arms about being selected by Obama to give the invocation at the inauguration) and has had a difficult time reconciling what I consider her natural inclination to be an accepting person with what she hears at Church. Since she started a few years ago going to church functions several times a week, she's become much more conservative in her views. I try to avoid discussing politics and religion with her for the most part because I think her Christianity is a very important part of her life and her friends there provide a great support system for her.
When my mother came to visit me at school a few weeks ago, she wanted to discuss the election. To my surprise, she voted for Obama. She was upset with how the Republicans handled the bailout vote, and went to the public library and re-registered as a Democrat. When we got to talking about the propositions, she voted mostly the same as I did, with Prop. 8 as the notable exception. I shouldn't have been surprised that she voted for Prop. 8 since Rick Warren was very vocal about his opposition to the measure and has compared gay marriage to pedophilia, bestiality, and polygamy. Still, I was a little disappointed.
At first, my mother said that she voted for Prop. 8 because of the involvement of the courts. After I pressed her on that a little, she said it was a freedom of speech issue (some nonsensical argument Warren was pushing). After engaging in some detailed debate about these issues, I was surprised to see that I made a breakthrough with her. And it was simple. She said that she wasn't against homosexuality and wouldn't mind if I was gay. I immediately said in response, "So, you're OK with me being gay, as along as I didn't want to get married?" When she realized that this wasn't about some lofty discussion about technicalities but about real people, about sons and daughters, she started to rethink it.
When the lights came on at the end of the film, she turned to me and said that she wishes she could change her vote on Prop. 8. She saw a movie that showed these sons and daughters facing terrible discrimination because of who they were; sons and daughters who had to fight to keep their jobs, had to fight for their lives because of the same prejudices and fears that lead to the passage of Prop. 8. The movie even took a couple of shots at Orange County for being so homophobic in the '70s (not much has changed).
I highly recommend Milk for everyone. After the movie, I needed some lighter fare to lift my moods. The theatre here in Holden, MA is unique. It's got over a dozen screens like most places in Orange County, but it's got some decent food options inside. I grabbed some tasty chicken fingers and grabbed a big comfy chair there and thumbed through the New York Times and Wall Street Journal before heading into see Quantum of Solace. It was quite enjoyable, but average. I was happy, however, to hear that my mother also loved Slumdog Millionaire. So do yourself a favor and add Milk and Slumdog Millionaire to your must-see list because they are two of the best movies I've seen this year.
Round-up of Critics' Lists of this Year's Best Movies