John Winters: Listen and learn

In our household, certain phrases are oft repeated during movie time.
The second most-used is “can’t you be quiet.” If you’re curious, the third is “what did he/she say?” I’ll get to the first in a minute.
Selecting a movie used to easy.
I’d say “how about this?” The Little Black Dress would give the approval nod and I’d get popcorn ready. I say easy because Eldest SON of Thunder was in bed, Middle SON was nursing and Youngest was in the womb.
As the SONs have grown, so have their movie tastes. And so has the time it takes to select something we can all agree on and thus enjoy our precious “family movie time.” Eldest prefers anything with “zombie” in the title, Middle tends toward things with “Star Wars” and Youngest is pretty much all over the map, but does love those pandas.
Lately, the LBD has pushed for more “inspirational” and “happy” movies. I just want to see something we haven’t seen more than some number with three digits.
For new movies, the result is we have to “proof” them beforehand because I have, on very rare occasions, blown it and had the SONs watching something I wouldn’t even watch, but we do so until The Dress comes down, sees the SONs freaking out and says A). “Boys, you are not watching that, go read a book” and B). “What were you thinking?” That last remark always aimed at me.
When we don’t agree, The Dress will entice one SON to at least watch part of The Tale of Despereaux while the others head off for The Empire Strikes Zombie Land. Which to me kind of defeats the whole point of “family movie time.”

A few nights ago, we were at an impasse regarding a movie. So I’m flipping through the 1,342 regular TV channels and come up with an idea - one The Dress immediately agreed to I’d like to point out.

“We’re watching ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’” I say.

Here we go: “Huh?” “Who’s killing a bird” “What’s is about?” “Who dies?” “Are their zombies?” “Are there clones?”

“It’s about honor, doing what’s right, standing up for your family and racial injustice,” I finally say, which quiets them for a moment. “It’s like that movie ‘A Time To Kill’ (which they all liked). And it’s in black and white.”

“Black and white! Ugh, we hate black and white” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. They refuse to believe there was a day when television was just black and white.

So we watch. And the questions start right off the bat.

Which leads to the number one phrase I say in every movie: “Listen and you will learn.”

“Why did they arrest that black guy”? (Listen and you will learn). “Why does the girl keep fighting everyone?” (Listen and you will learn). “Why is he going to shoot that dog?” (Listen and you will learn). “Who’s chasing them in the woods?” (You get the point).

It’s like getting a surprise. You want the surprise, but yet you want to know what it is beforehand and still be surprised. Doesn’t work that way.

Frustration is compounded because right when they ask the next question and I respond with an increasingly louder “listen and you will learn,” the script gives the answer. And I say “see” and they respond with “rewind it please.” Ugh.

They, we, want to know everything immediately. We hear, as in absorb, noise ... we don’t listen. We are so impatient we don’t let the journey unfold.

There were a few questions where I actually said to wait for the commercial. The movie didn’t give an answer.

Why were they calling Tom a Negro and boy? Why couldn’t black people go inside the fence? Why did all those white people lie? Why did Atticus lose some friends simply because he was defending that black man? And I tried to explain.

Afterward, there was some discussions amongst the three: Tom was innocent, they convicted him just because he was black; God says we are all equal. Scout got into fights to defend her dad. Jem and Scout took care of each other like mom wants us to. Atticus stood for what was right, regardless of the consequences, just like dad wants us to. Boo was a good person, but people didn’t know him so they made up stuff.

So maybe they did listen.

John A. Winters is a staff writer with The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog is at . You can reach him at .

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