Silver Linings in Modern Society

Social media is the biggest and more influential resource of information in our Century. Many may think only Facebook and CNN modify how we see the World; however, music and movies impact our life perspective as well. It is said, for example, that individuals that watch romantic comedies could expect their relationships to work the same unrealistic ways. In fact, many of the recent movies released portray the story of two characters that, after some cathartic moment, come back together and live happily ever after. Independently of your taste in movies (or even if you don’t have time to watch one due to your agitated professional life), you have to accept that lately, many movies and TV shows are displaying a different society.

More than sixty years ago we could see a black and white Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (“Ricky” Ricardo) laughing through adventures as an interracial couple in the “I Love Lucy” show. Ricky’s accent was delightful and Lucy’s naive occurrences were to laugh out loud. They were an adorable couple and America has loved them throughout the years even when the show stopped airing way before many of us were born. What is it that made this interracial couple likable in a prejudice America back in the 1950’s? That despite their diverse cultural backgrounds, they were a traditional family. However, today we see a different scenario.

We can watch TV show “Glee” with a student with disability character (and more recent a transgender) and “The New Normal” narrating the story of a gay couple and their separated surrogate mother-to-be. A more diverse population pops-up in our TV and in front of our children and youth. Why? Well, because that is America. On the other hand, disability and homosexuality are becoming more and more present in our lives. Hence, our tolerance or acceptance of related stories in the media. These characteristics are most of the time visible and we either understand them or at least normalize them. This leads us to a deficit in diversity. What happens with those differences we cannot see or understand? Do we segregate them? Do we condemn them? The movie “Silver Linings Playbook”, however, transports us to this more diverse and realistic world.

“Silver linings” is a metaphorical term or expression that refers to the brighter side of a dull situation (like when a gray cloud has spots of light). Similarly, “Silver Linings Playbook”, directed by David O. Russell, highlights the story of Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Pat and Tiffany have multiple mental health diagnosis. Even though the movie is also guided by the stereotypical Hollywood story line, it is not playing in every movie theatre. In fact, I watch it in the movie theatre were they play “foreign” or “alternative” movies. Maybe it is because Pat and Tiffany’s stories are still an “alternative” life style to our society, or even “foreign” to many’s eyes. Hence, the movie, based on the novel by Matthew Quick, touches the topic of psychological disorders like bipolar, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, “Silver Linings Playbook” explores relationships, grieving, sexual promiscuity, mental health medications, and dance therapy. Yes, this couple is the couple you wouldn’t invite to Thanksgiving dinner because they do not have a filter when they express their opinions.

Our diverse society is being more aware of each other differences. We are seeing diversity and we are trying to understand it. However, are we ready to see invisible differences? Are we ready to be aware of the “silver linings” in others? The answer relays on each individual and its contribution to the collective. Until then, many Pats and Tiffanys will be segregated and misunderstood and mental health will still be stigmatized as a decease rather than a diverse characteristic of an individual. We can only hope social media will portray more and more differences, not from a pathological perspective, but from an inclusive an more comprehensive point of view.

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