Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Six Degrees of Separation
On the Big Screen

Six Degrees of Separation was such a big hit on Broadway that it was inevitable, and it didn't take long at all for it to hit the big screen. In the must-see 1993 movie adaptation of Guare's play, the cunning and heartless, young gay hustler named Paul (Will Smith), a consummate con man looking for an identity, uses his charm and intellect to con his way out of the ghetto and into the world of New York high society.

Six Links Rule

He lands on the doorstep of rich art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing). Pretending to be the son of Sidney Poitier and the friend of their children at Harvard, the by now duped Kittredge's offer him a bed for the night. They are enchanted by his intellect and charm. However, by comparing notes with other victims of Paul's masquerade, they soon learn

that he is not all he seems to be so they try to find out how he knew so much and made the connections to them. Their investigations are intriguing and lead them to some interesting reflection and soul searching about their own world, a world of affluence, pretense and shallow existence.

Don't you just love this part:

"I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find that extremely comforting, that we're so close, but I also find it like Chinese water torture that we're so close because you have to find the right six people to make the connection. It's not just big names -- it's anyone. A native in a rain forest, a Tiero del Fuegan, an Eskimo. I am bound -- you are bound -- to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people. It's a profound thought -- how Paul found us, how to find the man whose son he claims to be, or perhaps is, although I doubt it. How everyone is a new door, opening into other worlds."

Character Ouisa Kittredge.

As did the play, the movie Six Degrees of Separation explores themes of reality versus appearance. It explores the inner and the outer sides of people. This is done not only of Paul, the street-wise, teenage rascal aspiring to be someone important, but also of the well-to-do socialite art dealers, Flan and Ouisa Kittredge for they also pretend to be what they are not. They lose themselves in the identities that they project onto their friends and customers. They themselves also know a little about hustling, charming and selected truths as they quickly and quite easily schmooze the next person interested in brokering an art deal between a potential client. From this perspective, compared to the silver-tongued, rascal Paul, the socialite Kittredge's are hustlers themselves. What's fascinating is that even though they are at the upper end of society, better educated, and know a thing or two about hustling, they are duped by the much younger, street-wise kid. They are just as vulnerable as any one of us. A young hustler quite easily makes them realize how really empty their lives are, loaded with dough and living on the ritzy upper end. I guess the moral here is that no matter who you are or at what step of the social ladder you're at, from time to time we should all hold up that mirror and take a hard look at ourselves! Respectability is only skin deep; true integrity lies much deeper.

Six Degrees of Separation provokes a number of thoughts and makes you think about a number of issues:

  • Are you no different to Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, self-absorbed with what you do, living in some pretentious existence and perhaps easily fallible to charming and lovable rascals who brazenly assume false identities yet capable of opening up a whole new existence for you?
  • Being locked into your daily routines and life patterns, if such a rascal touches you to the core and is a catalyst for the re-evaluation of your life, perhaps saving you from the empty life that you have fallen into, does it really matter that such a complete stranger, a charming and lovable rascal sweeps you off your feet with his cleverly fabricated stories and irresistible charm designed to play off that very longing? Think about it! Imagine some stranger blowing into your life as if from nowhere and connects with you and through this deep connection makes you reflect on who you really are! It has been said that con-men and gigolos know more about the human makeup than most trained therapists. While the therapists live in their mostly theoretical world, the rascal works in the cold world of reality. In this context, what's wrong with enjoying the journey and not worrying about the destination?
  • How is it that we are so easily distracted with situations and events of life, rather than engage ourselves in living life?
  • How often do we fool ourselves?
  • What drives you? Is your life centered on the desire for money, business opportunities, fame, social standing, comfort or is it the desire for meaningful human connection?
  • Are you enjoying your life or do you crave for another world than the one that you live in or do miss something that you dream for?
  • Who are you really?
  • Are you caught up in our celebrity driven society?
  • Do you feel the need to be somebody important and special? Many do!
  • Do you have an "identity" of your own and live the life of who you really are or do you fake it and in your world of make believe pretend or strive to be someone else?
  • Do you fake it to get away from your everyday mundane reality?
  • Do you fake it because of ambition, greed, desire or just fantasy or do you just want to be liked or want to have friends or whatever?
  • In your pursuit to be liked do you lie or hold back in conversation (sitting on the fence) rather than tell the truth and express yourself honestly? Have you ever told someone "Oh I love that dress!" or "Oh I just love that new hairstyle, it really suits you!" but really, deep down within you think it looks stupid on her?
  • Talking about faking it, I know a girl, best described as a celebrity wannabe. She will not open her front door unless she's fully dolled up and in stilettos! If you surprise visit her she'll ask who you are and then while you stand on the other side of her front door she will frantically rush to the powder room to doll herself up. If you can be bothered you would wait at the door for quite some time. She's the same on the ski field, fully made up and yes she'd ski in stilettos if she could. Nothing short of a masquerade for whose benefit? Is it just self esteem or ego? Who are you? Do I really know you? I'll say it again, from time to time we should all hold up that mirror and take a hard look at ourselves! Respectability is only skin deep; true integrity lies much deeper.
  • Do you fool your friends not realising that in the process you are also fooling yourself?
  • Have you gone so far with the pretense that you just can't climb out?
  • How are we connected to each other and to what extent do we exist without other people?
  • Finally, isn't it an amazing thought that we're connected to anyone and everyone by a chain of six. Is the world really that small? Talking about connectivity, isn't it amazing how the Internet and blogging in particular, has connected people like you and me right now. There can be little doubt that the Internet has made the world “smaller” by allowing us to meet seemingly random people from around the world, and to do a better job of keeping in touch with them.

    Six Degrees of Separation, a fascinating subject........but there's more, so stay tuned!


    Blogger michele said...

    Yea mariah carey is a second cousin of mine,wish i had her
    money.Must learn how to suck up.

    Stop by for a visit

    1:31 PM  
    Blogger Adam said...

    If I stop by for a visit and have a cuppa, will that mean that you being my friend, will give me my link to Mariah Carey? Hmmmmm, put the kettle on......

    3:18 PM  
    Blogger michele said...

    Ha ha adam i don't even have
    a link to mariah,we're not close
    damn it!

    4:46 PM  
    Anonymous veracity said...

    Very interesting and stimulating post... My curiosity is piqued.

    3:33 AM  
    Blogger Adam said...

    Hi V thanks for your visit and comment. That's an interesting word that you've used there. From old French I believe, a prick or irritation. Hope to see you back here again soon.

    10:39 PM  

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