Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are the Outcast Ever Truly Welcome? (Edward Scissorhands, 1990)

#96--Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward is such a nice, caring, thoughtful boy.  So gentle, so talented.  And so, so lonely. 

Well, the answer to this is clear, right? All it takes is for one caring person to reach out her hand and grant Edward a place in a normal, caring family.  Then everything will be okay, right?

Well, this is movie, so we know not everything will be okay.  There has to be drama, tension, opposition.  Something has to go wrong.  But does everything have to go wrong?  Is Edward destined to loneliness forever?

Of course he is.  It is human nature.

There are two basic moral principles that all humans are bound to pursue, without exception.  First, there is the “high road” symbolized by the golden rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   Peg sees Edward as a neighbor in need of some very basic love and she offers it to him.  Soon the whole neighborhood is following Peg’s example and Edward seems to have a new home.

However, this couldn’t last forever, for the second basic moral principle must reveal itself: “Protect your kith and kin.”  No matter how benevolent the attitude toward Edward, no matter how simple and gentle Edward seemed, in the end he must be rejected on the basis of his appearance.  For every good intention, for every positive attitude, below is a measure of fear, for Edward is a monster, a danger.  The fear of Edward can be set aside for a moment or two, but it must come out eventually.  And he will be rejected.

This is the basis of all hatred and prejudice, this determination to protect.  There is nothing wrong with it in itself, but it always leads to judgment and wall-building and eventually warring.  Thus it is best for Edward to stay in his castle.  It is best for the mentally ill to remain in their foster care homes.  It is best for the homeless to remain in their camps.  It is best for the new immigrants to remain hidden.  Not for the sake of society, but for their own sakes. 

Frankly, normal society is the most frightening monster of all.

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