The Wall

I watched this flick again for the first time in a long time.

I remember first seeing the movie in high school, right in the middle of some serious teenage angst regarding life in general. It really resonated with me on so many levels. The idea that the world is mostly an annoyance that is only tolerable if it is walled out… I can relate to that!

As I’ve grown older, The Wall, at least musically, has remained powerful. It is, without question, one of my favorite all-time albums just because of the continuity of the music contrasted with some varying styles. It’s a great listen. I had listened to the album and had a desire to watch the film again because there are some subtle differences between the soundtrack and the movie and it had been quite a while since I’d laid eyes on the movie.

As I’ve grown older, I have come to realize that much of what I loathe is not really the world, but the fact that people are seemingly okay with the idea that they do not need to be self-responsible. By that I mean more and more people are content to blame everything on the government, or on others. With blame comes dependence, and so goes mankind it seems. Blame the government for not telling you that putting a hair dryer in the bathtub with your child is dangerous, get a gigantic label and buying restrictions on appliances in order to protect you from yourself.

Many people seem to be okay with this idea that they are never at fault. I, while I would agree it is a convenient way to live, find it deplorable. Whenever we are playing or interacting with Emma and she hurts herself or something, we make a point to remind her that if she runs too fast or doesn’t look where she’s going, she will hurt herself. I see plenty of parents that would coddle them away from the issue and then rearrange the furniture or something so it won’t happen again.

These are the children that drink and drive later in life and kill a teenage friend, all the while wondering how mommy and daddy are going to get them out of this one. It is a terrible shame and it makes me focus doubly hard to make certain that Emma is self-responsible and fully capable of running her own life as much as she’s able.

That said, The Wall just drips of outward blame. I never noticed it as much growing up because I guess I related to him so much as a “misunderstood artist”. As I have advanced in years, it has become evident that I wasn’t “misunderstood”, I was credulous. I thought I was a one-of-a-kind kid with ideas and feelings that none could understand, so it was best that I shut those folks out and handle it myself. I now see that I was just another teenager trying to grow into adulthood but confused about how to make it happen.

In watching The Wall I began to see it much more as a tale of a childish, spoiled adult that refused to take responsibility for his own life. In the absence of his charge, anyone who could step in gladly did to use and abuse him and push him further into his own prison. Yes, his mother was over bearing. Indeed, the schoolteacher was a mean-hearted power monger. Sure his wife cheated on him. It’s true that his manager was a money-hungry maniac willing to risk Pink’s health to ensure continued success and it sucks that his father died in the war when he was just a baby. All these things are terribly tragic and can make life a huge drag, no doubt.

However, his mother’s continued control over him was completely self-imposed. She was long out of the picture, but he couldn’t let her memory go. He’s the one that chooses to relive and in many ways wallow in the very thing that he claims to hate so much. His wife did cheat on him, but only after he pushed her so far away that she was forced into the arms of another man just to feel companionship. Once she had fled Pink’s embrace, he suddenly wanted only her and then became indignant that *she* was responsible for destroying him.

His manager, while quite ruthless, didn’t have to work very hard to control or exploit Pink. Pink’s general malaise and inaction which devolves into a near-catatonic self-perpetuated state of loathing give the manager a perfect platform to inject drugs and basically puppeteer Pink into whatever he fancies. The schoolteacher is unique in that many kids are subjected to the “wrath” of schoolteachers and if they get a bad one, it can leave a memorable impression. In Pink’s case, I empathize with him having a teacher that didn’t understand or encourage his high-art gifts, but once the purview of the schoolteacher was no longer a factor, blaming past tyranny for future indiscretions falls right back into the irresponsible rut that shapes his life.

The one part of the movie that really took on a whole new meaning was the final two “acts”, if you will. Pink suddenly realizes that he has succeeded in walling himself in. He has built a wall out of all these “bricks” that he has fashioned from all the wrongs that have ever been done to him.

Once complete, there seems to be a notion that he truly grasps that these bricks were made by him and for him. They might consist of the actions, or lack thereof, of other people, but *he* made them. They weren’t bricks until he fashioned them into bricks and laid them into the wall. At this point, he is beginning to separate his mind. Part of him sees that the only guilty party for his life and the course he has taken is himself. The other part is still clinging to the comfort and solace of all the hatred and disdain.

This leads to the final scene where Pink is put on trial by his own egos. He is forced to evaluate his life and chooses to call as witnesses the people that he holds accountable for his life’s course. As they “testify” in the proceedings, you get to see how his perception of these people have really worked to shape him into what he has become. The final segment involves the judge himself ruling over the trial. The judge declares that because he has revealed his deepest fears he must be subject to the full penalty of law. The penalty? TEAR DOWN THE WALL!

So why bother recounting this whole thing? As this election season rolls on, there seems to be hints of this sort of thing happening in the world around us. So many people are victims of their own lives and have become dependent on the government to take care of them. They are so willing to become socially catatonic and let the government drug them up and drag them to their next gig. They just wall themselves in and let the world around them do what it will.

I find this sort of thing almost completely insane. I believe that the government should do three things primarily: 1) Protect the nation’s sovereignty, 2) police the population and 3) prevent fraud

With those three things being handled by a government body, people should turn to other as necessary, and pull up their bootstraps otherwise. There was once a time when kids broke their arms on playgrounds and the jungle gym wasn’t torn down and replaced with a huge padded cell. There were cars that were wrecked and no money was expected for a repair because, “It could happen to anyone.” There were once communities that worked together, knew one another, and formed the necessary committees to make their little pieces of the world safe and hospitable. There used to be families that were able to afford to eat dinner together every night of the week, where family was far more important than jobs or cars or status.

The government doesn’t need to babysit you for you to be able to live a fulfilling life, but it will gladly do so for merely half your income. I for one think it is high time that self-responsibility made a huge comeback! All we have to do is TEAR DOWN THE WALL!

-Chris

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