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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Jim and Andy.

I've never really understood grief, perhaps until now. I managed through my Grandfather's funeral ten years ago, my nanny's a few years before (nanny is a, word we used to distinguish her from my other grandmother) and in the eighties and nineties my other grandparents, uncles, aunties and a little niece. They were hard, hard times. But the grief I'm working through at present after dad dying two weeks ago, is different. On a different level. A different saturation of grief, that soaks right into every cell and thought and experience.

I have a list of worthy documentaries I want to watch, and today being a day I really could barely pick my self up from the bed, the seat, the toilet, the sink at the mirror that had me staring at this old man stripped bare of the face I wear, I resigned myself to the comfy chair and the Netflix list. 

My watch list is full of politics I must watch and science and history to shift me somewhere else, but clicking through them, I flicked past this one... And then went back and gave it a go. 

I didn't really set off watching it expecting it to be that memorable. But, it was the right thing at the right time.

Carrey, a working class guy who has reached the limits of his dream, who has stripped his being right the way back to the core, is a beautiful being. Sad, delicate, damaged, but through it all, knows himself, even though he says he came out of the film about the life of Andy Kaufman totally confused about where the real Jim was. His referencing The Truman Show, and walking through that door to the real person, is one we all long for. I found my door at 17, in discovering the comradery and freedom alcohol brought, but no longer drink or take drugs beyond caffeine because walking through that door sometimes revealed someone I really didn't want to be... Rarely... but often enough to make me decide to stay this side of the entrance, and to find another door to the real me. 
There is so much to strip back. Carrey talks about the layers we build around us, the show we put on. And he says he no longer wants to do that. He realises that it isn't just a show business thing to be "someone else," that many others - everyone does it. And with that I agree. To be authentic in a world we are forced to be something else day by day, to survive, to earn, to live among people who would not seek out to be with.

Carrey does some beautiful things, as well as some rather mean things, and I think he may still not really realise his version of Kaufman may have been just that- his version, and not what he implies - that is, a possession; Andy revisiting the world through him and the movie. 

He does push buttons... He does push people in the way some of Kaufman's characters did, but Kaufman did what Carrey set out to do in his early career--bring joy. 

Make people forget. 

Made them happy. 

Carrey's treatment of the wrestler Jerry Lawler, and some other people is quite bad, and excused as "what Andy did," when he didn't actually.
But it is his treatment of Kaufman's family that is redemptive, at one point he cries because of meeting Kaufman's daughter privately for over an hour, a woman who had never met Andy in real life. To "channel" Kaufman for that woman at that time really was a beautiful thing.

And back to grief... Carrey talks about death, and how it is something, a point, we aim for. That time we can let go and feel relieved we don't need to care anymore. I understand his thoughts in this, but witnessing my father's death, his want to live and his need to care, and his want to continue caring, especially that last day of his life when he seemed to have come back to us in many ways, I disagree. Dad screamed at death and called out for my sister, who he cared for to the very end... That daughter he sat in primary school class with when she was a child, because of her fear of the world at that time. 

Kaufman, the King of resurrecting The King of Rock and Roll, through his at times painfully, cringey, embarrassing, knowingly awkward, beautiful, divisive "Foreign Man" act, I feel, Carrey believed at the time, was resurrected through him. And inso much as someone can be resurrected through memory and revisiting place, music, conversations, was. My father lives in my head. The conversations real and imagined continue to reel in my head, though the past couple of weeks, or even the past couple of months, I realise many life long assumptions of who he was, really were assumptions based on my own bias, fears, likes, and edits. 

The film, which is Carrey commentating on footage made behind the scenes of "Man on the Moon," is hilarious, poignant, frustrating and in many ways, better than the movie that was being made. Watching this man live the character he based on his own bias, fears, likes and edits 24 hours a day throughout the shoot is a tour de force of comedy, but so, so much more.

I think I'd like Carrey. I like people who understand themselves, their limits and what is broken about them. Authentic people. I don't know anything else about Carrey, other than his movies and this documentary (and some of his more recent existential statements), but I hope he has people, around him to listen to, who are authentic and whom he realises are so.

Before he was famous, Carrey wrote a £10million cheque to himself. His father died a few weeks after his film, The Mask, was released. Carrey's love for his father seeps from this film, and is contrasted with the not so ideal relationship Kaufman had with his father. 

When Jim's father died, he slipped the £10 million cheque into his suit pocket before his burial.  I understand the significance of this... The need to prove yourself to your parents. The need to show them that you are ok... That you have succeeded... And  ambition tied up so much in that primal relationship with the unquestioning love of good parents for their children, and vice-versa. 

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