Returning to Normal

For years now, we’ve had a tradition of going to the theater to watch the Oscar-nominated animated short films.

Last night was the first time in over a year that we’d gone to movie theaters. As we drove to the theater, I was concerned that there were only a few minutes to spare. I knew there would be provisions for social distancing, and worried that the theater might be “full.”

It turned out, we were the only ones in the theater. But we had our popcorn, and leaned back in the dark to immerse ourselves in the show, in a way our home theater (cough) cannot match.

I predict the likely winner in this category will be If Anything Happens, I Love You. If you happen to have access to Netflix, you can watch this short without shelling out for a movie ticket. This jewel is also, in its way, about getting back to normal.

Far too many of us have been caught in a time of painful abnormality (which I suppose is one of the reasons this year’s nominees include the surreal Genius Loci). We’ve often been compartmentalized in our own separate realms, whether frivolous or terrifying (Opera).. And then there was normal life, whatever normal is for each of us, where each day confronts us with our fellows and a need to dig back out from the snows of life (Yes-People). Finally there is Pixar’s version of Satre’s quote, “Hell is other people,” with the promise that Heaven can be other people as well (Burrow, available on Disney+).

The honorable mentions addressed Polynesian legend of the Mahu (traditionally born male but who mature to transcend gender stereotypes, 1 Kapaemahu), fantastical friendships (The Snail and the Whale), and the power of magic (To Girard). Out 2 and Traces 3 were apparently among the ten finalists to be nominated, but were not included in the theatrical release.

It is mind-blowing to imagine the time and energy that goes into creating any of these animated shorts. It will be thrilling for us to watch for the short minutes this category will get during the Oscars ceremony.

And it was delightful to return to an annual tradition we would not have chosen to enjoy a mere month ago.

Notes:

  1. The film clearly celebrates the idea that these four Mahu were neither male nor female. But, given my beliefs, I see individuals such as John and the three Nephites as plausible sources of the myth. At any rate, several models of maturation see the ultimate potential of a person to be when an individual becomes what is needed, transcending gender stereotypes.
  2. A Pixar short about a man coming out to his parents.
  3. Apparently inspired by the cave paintings of Lascaux
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

2 thoughts on “Returning to Normal

  1. I am crying just reading about it and I have not seen it. Must mean my children are precious to me.

  2. Meg, congratulations. You are the first person ever to make me think: “What happened to Mrs. John, Mrs. Nephite-1, Mrs. Nephite-2, and Mrs. Nephite-3 ? Did they get quasi-immortality too? If not, do they get to visit somehow, sometimes?”

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