Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Straight

"Getting Straight" is a classic movie. And, one that is incredibly relevent for today, especially in this election.  Set in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, Elliot Gould is fabulous in what I think was his best role ever. He is a Vietnam vet: a Navy Corpman, having served with the Marines. He plays the part of an idealistic, very verbal, slightly older graduate student. I first saw this movie years and years ago. And, one of the unintended consequences for today is that it reinforced my belief in what has happened to us as a culture.  We have become a less involved people, willing to accept events like Iraq and Afghanistan without blinking an eye. We no longer have a draft and the country is not invested in our military. Our culture has basically shifted from one of interest in "land of the free and home of the brave" to one of making money and creating wealth. In "Getting Straight", an idealistic student body railed against the war and protested for what they perceived was a lack of basic equality. On every hand, Harry, played by Elliot Gould, presented a practical approach, even contrary to what he believed. His goal was to become a teacher and he kept trying to sacrifice the real person of who he was to reach that goal. Realizing it was not going to happen, in a "what the hell" moment, he threw in the towel, with some dramatics of course. 

The last scene is one of the best I've ever seen. The stereotypes, a dozen or so, are sitting around a table as he takes his "orals" for his masters. He finally explodes with what he truly thinks. So relevant. Today, there is no approach like "Getting Straight," no real idealism rather how to become a 1%er. 

There are many reasons why "Getting Straight" won't happen today. It isn't only a loss of idealism but the country has become too big, too unwieldy, too partisan, meaning selfish. It is why a "Getting Straight" concept would be  important in this election. But, it won't happen. No politician will say what they truly mean (it is why Governor Christie of New Jersey was so refreshing as relating to the awful devastation of Sandy. He said, "f..k politics, my people are in need.")

The Presidency and the Democrats are the best chance of capturing some of the magic of the "Getting Straight" time, I believe. But, even if they wanted too, the political courage is simply not there. We are f..ked. 

Personality Factor

I have always liked the President. Here's a guy who can be making a speech, somebody hollers, "I love you" without dropping a word, he calls, "I love you back." He moves easily toward people. Sometimes criticized for aloofness? It is a management style, give somebody a job? Let them do it. Good father. Tackles crisis. This doesn't mean to say that he's not a politician but overall it is his personality, ENTJ. He has learned how to be a good president and deserves another term. 

But, my point is that he is what he is because of personality. How do we know what he is? We can only guess because of our understanding of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality instrument in the U.S. 

My first exposure to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was in 1977, way back in the dark ages when I was in the military. Otto Kroeger, who is probably the foremost present day guru of the theory came to do a workshop at Fort McPherson, Georgia. I was a young Major and truly didn't know my posterior from anything. And, reluctantly showed up at the seminar. As happened, it was a turning point in my life's outlook to say the least. In the military, I was always on the outside of the mainstream. I (ENTP) would be in a meeting and it was constantly "group think" but I was not there--never seemed to see it like everybody else. The military iscooperate and graduate personified. I was a good combat soldier but get me in the confines of peacetime and it was a struggle. By this time in my career, I had already been fired twice and miraculously escaped being pitched out of the military. So, here was a theory that was mostly built around the idea that all of us are born with different personalities, plain and simple, not much we can do about it. This was revolutionary. Simplistically, it seemed that to get to know our personality and others and to be able to make it useful in an organization like the military would be perfect.

According to the Myers Briggs, you actually can be one of sixteen personalities and all of them have various characteristics and  attributes. Here is MBTI, 101. 

Extroverts/Introverts. Extrovert move toward people easily and find a certain amount of energy being around people. Introverts usually have lots of conversations but many of  the conversations are usually with themselves. One attribute is not good or bad, they just are. Sensing/INtuitives: Sensing types are "hands on" types. They love to reach out and touch. They can do things, fix things. INtuitives are creative and innovative. They always have time for one more thing. Thinking/Feeling. Thinkers are in their heads, they reason, try to figure things out. Feeling Types are in their guts, can be emotional. Finally on the Myers Briggs, we can be a Judging (all these terms are mostly Jungian ones. I would have chosen different ones) type or a Perceptive Type. These two, J and P really means how we live out our lives. Our live styles. This is all a capsule, out of my head. I am an ENTP. 

Once we take a stab at our figuring out our personalities, we are better at knowing ourselves, and most important, making good decisions. 

The Myers Briggs is based on the creditable theory of Carl Jung, the Swiss born Psychiatrist and somewhat rival of Freud. It was designed after years of research by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. The Myers Briggs could measure the conscious (as opposed to the unconscious)aspect of the personality. I actually wrote a book, The Personality Factor, read by only two others beside myself. Below are the 16 different types. The President: 
E-extrovert, moves toward people easily. 
N-iNtuitive-Innovative, creative; lots of legislation, creative appointments. 
T-Thinking. He is very much on his head. Figuring things out, practical. 
J-judging. Not judgmental. This is a lifestyle issue. It is how we love out our lives. The J/P is very importent as it conveys the idea of being organized as to being "open" about things. The President, ENTJ. 

The 16 Personalities:
[ENFP]    [INFP]    [ENFJ]    [INFJ]    [ESTJ]    [ISTJ]   [ESFJ]    [ISFJ]    [ENTP]    [INTP]    [ENTJ]    [INTJ]   [ESTP]    [ISTP]    [ESFP]    [ISFP]

We would expect a good Irishman like Mark O'Brien to be creative enough to tell such a story, which was an essay, "How to find a sex surrogate?" "Sessions" is really a good and warm movie. Who does not love Helen Hunt anyway? When she was on the long running TV sitcom, "Mad About You," she made it sparkle. And, an Oscar winner as Jack's Nicolnson's love interest in "As Good As It Gets." In both of these movies, she takes  dysfunctional types and molds them into their best selves. She gets most of the billing in this movie but John Hawkes is fabulous, along with William Macy. Both of these guys are amazingly understated. And, Macy does with his role what you would expect but Hawkes reverts back to the great part he had in the HBO show, Deadwood, where he was so good. 

For those of us who wanted to see HH's breasts, to be generic, this movie gave us the chance. Germaine Greer infamously said,  "Men are interested in two things: tits and ass and ass and tits." Close but I beg to differ, give us a little more credit. The movie had a lot of tentacles. Why more of the complexities weren't explored is hard to know. Pretty short movie. I would like to have known about Helen Hunt's son and the live in poet. And, O'Brian's first love and his Asian caretaker. I thought she was Hispanic well into the movie. All the women were pretty remarkable, even the first one who needed her pay advance. 

A fascinating and very interesting scene is where they just lay there, breasts bared. It was time enough to study them. They were not remarkable or they were. Really good movie, the best I've seen in a while. I hope it did well at the box office.