Thursday, 21 July 2011

Tolerance, or "A Reading from the Gospel according to John (Hughes)"

Following on from my last post, here's a moving scene from an 1980s classic film (aren't all films from the 1980s classics?!) Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). If you haven't seen it, go watch it now. From John Hughes, the genius behind some of the greatest teen films ever made, essentially Steve Martin and John Candy attempt to get home for Thanksgiving in inclement weather conditions, and must put up with each other's negative behaviour traits along the way. This scene is near to the end, when Steve Martin has had enough and explodes in anger at John Candy clearing out his sinuses.

Let's read that again:

"You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right. I talk too much; I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. You think what you want about me. I'm not changing. I like, I like me, my wife likes me, my customers like me because i'm the real article. what you see is what you get."

To go all sunday-school-Guardian-reading-wishy-washy-'now-seriously guyz'-priest on you, that is the essence of tolerance; learning to deal with people who annoy the hell out of you, because you realise they must learn to deal with you too. John Candy's character is no saint, and John Hughes' genius in this film is to show them both as flawed human beings, yet in this scene we see Steve Martin realise that to criticise John Candy he must also accept his shortcomings too. A little more tolerance and a little more patience with others might go a long way.

Here endeth the lesson.

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