Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"The one where Jon remembered to have fun" - the Separate Ways remake, and why compassion can be funny

Wow, am I ever serious. I mean, damn! Did you guys read that Mary Oliver piece? Jeez! How about that fun thing I did on genocide! Wow. I take myself waaaaay too seriously!

That not to say that Mary Oliver isn't important, and that art doesn't have the potential to change the world. But come on, people. Not everyone wants to heave their guts up with tears every day.

So let's start with this. Please, please watch it before you read any further.

Did you get that? If you're not familiar with the original video, watch this version:

Got it?

Did you watch it all the way through?

If not, go back and watch. Please. I'm not kidding. It's worth your while. My wife and I watched it one night at least thirty times.

You might even take the time to go to YouTube and search for other versions. Like this:

Not my favorite. But guess what? There are at least TEN MORE on YouTube. Seriously. Tons of people have taken this, and many other songs, acted out the video, filmed it with multiple takes and camera, edited it, and posted it on YouTube. I mean, WOW.

And I have watched them all, many times.

So what in the heck does this have to do with compassion?

I'm not entirely sure.

But I do have a straw that I'm grasping to, that gives me license to post these silly videos.

When I watch one of these videos I'm thinking:

  1. Wow, that must've taken a lot of time!
  2. Wow, that song is pretty silly.
  3. What a bunch of idiots.
  4. This is hilarious.
  5. Hey, maybe we could make a video like this!
  6. Hey, maybe we could get the kids to do a video like this!
Somebody took the time to do all this work to create these things so we could laugh! And so they could laugh! And, in this case, they chose a completely earnest song with an completely earnest video to spoof, which is perfectly compassionate. Why? Because who among us hasn't taken themselves waaaaaayyyy too seriously? Who among us hasn't been like Steve Perry in the original video, completely serious and significant about something that might just be as substantive as the Steve's love for that Markie Post-lookin' chick.

So here's what I'm thinking. It is compassionate to want to relieve another human being's suffering. We have all suffered in many ways and we all want relief. It is compassionate to want another human being to have fun. It is compassionate to want another human being to laugh and relax and stop taking themselves so goshdarn seriously for a moment.

Ohhh... I feel it coming on... here I go with...

A Thich Nhat Hanh Quote

I've used this one a lot recently but it's soooo appropriate.
"The meaning of the word Avalokitesvara is 'the one who looks deeply into the world and hears the cries of the world.'; This voice relieves our suffering and suppressed feelings, because it is the voice of someone who understands us deeply -- our anguish, despair, and fear. When we feel understood, we suffer much less."
Dare I say that Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, is present in the remakes of Journey's Separate Ways? Yes, I say, yes.

When we watch the best of these videos, we are watching someone who's been there. I'm just sure of it. All teen angst-y, locked away in his room, looking for reruns of Night Court. And then, later on, able to look at that teen angst, that pre-Morrissey heartbreak, and maybe just chuckle a little bit.

So we can sometimes be compassionate to ourselves by stopping the mind chatter and laughing, by watching someone exaggerate behavior we, ourselves, have taken on. We've all been like Steve Perry, wrapped up in our... journey... (sorry). And sometimes, we need to laugh and get over our seriousness.

That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't change the world. But maybe we can have fun while doing it. Because sometimes, having fun is exactly what's called for. *


  1. I find your blog so refreshing and encouraging! I am an actor and just started a blog to help other actors with their journey and my latest post even links to your first! Please check it out, and while your clients take my breath away with their talent, you do with your compassion : )


  2. Thank you so much Emily - your blog is a huge contribution to actors!!!