Last year I read The Slap while on holidays and found it both intriguing and gruelling. The makers of the series on ABC have done well to capture that same car crash sense of ‘This is terrible, but I want to keep watching’.
My friend Andrew Menzies posted this on his facebook wall – a comment he overheard:” ‘The Slap’ should be compulsory reading before refugees leave for Australia… It will certainly make them think twice as all the people are so awful!!”
There certainly isn’t much redemptive or hopeful in the story. There really is’t a single likable character and there are plenty of horribly dislikable ones. The secret of The Slap’s success, I would suggest, is that it is a very raw slice of reality and as we watch we see familiar people, feelings and responses. Tim Winton offers a slice of reality also in his novels but he writes in such a winsome way that the rawness has a beauty about it. In The Slap that rawness is ugly. Dog ugly. And I don’t think its a failure on the part of the author. I think he wants us to see how messed up some of our lives really are.
As Danelle and I watched it last week we saw the tragic story of Aisha and her screwed up life. A messy unhappy marriage held together by kids and convenience, a random affair as a result of pain, a husband (half) wanting to make amends for his infidelity and so it goes on. Maybe its just the world I observe, but it feels affrontingly real – very much like life in the suburbs of this city.
There are a few moments of hope and happiness amidst long periods of struggle and darkness, but they fade quickly and the dominant landscape is bleak, cold and conflict ridden. People have spoken of how harsh and vulgar the language is in the story, but as I observe the world we live in, its pretty much par for the course. Its just that we don’t hear that stuff regularly on TV.
To some degree The Slap evokes a deep sadness in me and on the other hand my response is to want to ‘slap’ the people for being such self centred morons. Perhaps at the core of this sad story is the inability of people to have relationships and resolve conflict in a healthy way, and maybe that is why it is so tragic. Take away relationships in this world and what do you have?
I’ve seen too much of ‘The Slap’ in the world around me to call it a caricature or an aberration. I’ve seen friends cut friends off in a heartbeat rather than resolve conflict. I’ve seen husbands play up, regret it but then do it again because they are miserable in their marriages and feel trapped. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.
The good news?…
There isn’t much in the story. But if you read this blog regularly you’d know there is good news and hope. You’d know there is someone who invites us to follow him and live in a different reality. I don’t think Jesus way is easy – not at all – but I find myself wanting to speak to the people in the story and ask ‘have you considered a different way?…’
And then again I just want to slap them back… And therein lies some of the struggle for us as missionaries in the west. To love those who don’t look very lovable is a challenge. If not for Jesus I don’t think we’d have a hope