Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crack in America

My meeting with Raymond and David is fast approaching.  I know I should feel excited about the possibility of making a movie about my grandfather. Everyone in my life who knows about this is excited.  I'm not excited.  I'm worried.

To be fair, neither Raymond or David has said or done anything that would make me think I can't trust them.  The problem is that I know my family.  Disappointment, alcoholism, a lust for money - it's all part of the family brand.

As much as I respect the filmmakers, we're obviously coming at this with different agendas. In one of my very first conversations with David he said that if their research revealed things about my grandfather that were less than stellar, he and Raymond may need to address them in the film.  He was up front with me from the beginning.

I'm just not being upfront with myself.  The truth is that as long as I'm doing this research on my own I can choose not to explore avenues that may tarnish my view of my grandfather.  If I invite Raymond and David on this journey with me, I'm forfeiting that choice.  I know that I need to reconcile this in my mind before I meet with them because they're not going to use my emotions as a compass for this film.

That's why I've had such conflict about this research.  I want someone in my lineage who I can feel proud of, someone who my young sons can look to as an example of character, hard work, and all that stuff.  But, I'm seriously afraid that in the end, I'm going to find out that Booker Wright was a terrible man who had one good moment.

My deepest desire for this work is to find a place where I can stand and look at my grandfather's legacy with untarnished pride.  Even I know that's unrealistic.  The more that we know anyone the more that we see the flaws that make them human. I want to know him more, but I don't want to know him more.

So, what can I really expect?  If I work with Raymond and David I can make sure that my family doesn't experience anything like that funny, yet terribly sad moment from the movie the "The Fighter."

In that movie, Christian Bale's character is a washed up fighter who really had a shot at greatness.  He lost his career because of an addiction to drugs.  During most of the film Bale's character is followed around by a camera crew.  He tells everyone that the crew is making a documentary about him and some of the great moments from his career as a fighter.  The night the documentary aired on HBO his family and friends are all sitting together ready to watch their loved one receive honor and glory.  

The documentary starts and the title is something like "Crack in America".  The documentary wasn't about this guy's life as a fighter, it was about his life as a crack addict.  Of course, his family is devastated and completely humiliated in front of their friends and their entire community.

If I go down this road with Raymond and David, I won't be able to control what happens but I can at least make sure that my family doesn't find out something terrible about Booker Wright at a premiere party surrounded by all their friends.


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