Fire At Sea

Yesterday I watched the Academy Award nominated documentary Fire At Sea, a film which compares and contrasts the mild day to day existence of a Greek family with the harsh realities that African refugees face as they struggle to get to safety in Greece.

For example, there is a scene where twelve year old Samuele complains to his family doctor about his anxiety (apparently he's worried about his dust mite allergies...) And there's also a scene where a haunted looking man explains that he had to drink his own urine as he was crossing the Sahara while escaping civil war in his home country because that was the only liquid he had at hand and he was afraid that he would die of dehydration otherwise.

Now, obviously Fire at Sea is a heavy hearted film, and I would love to have a long in-depth discussion with someone about the serious moral argument that it is making...

...And in fact, my first draft of this post actually did feature several paragraphs about how I'm both fascinated and disturbed by the human brain's inability to juggle multiple conflicting realities at once, because that's an issue which really impacts my current philosophical / sociological beliefs. On some level I really do believe that the average person wants to be empathetic with / helpful to their fellow humans, but it's hard to square that belief with the fact that most people can't really understand a stranger's everyday experience if it is too far removed from what they have experienced themselves, and as long as that is true, there is going to be a hard limit on how empathetic any reasonably comfortable person is capable of being towards someone who was living a life of extreme hardship, and if people like me can't really empathize with the people who are stuggling the most, well, that obviously represents a significant challenge to the idea that we are empathetic beings at all... 


But I had to cut all of that because it was kind of a distraction from what I really wanted to talk about...

that's right, I'm talkin' bout this furry little butthole

that's right, I'm talkin' bout this furry little butthole

...Which is that my cat is a furry butthole who did an intentionally annoying but unintentionally ironic series of things yesterday.

Because there I was, watching this serious film about how Western societies turn a blind eye towards the suffering of other people, about how we want to pretend like refugees don't exist so we can continue to go along with our happy lives... And the whole time that I was trying to watch this hard-to-watch documentary the cat was spazzing out. She was getting in my face and demanding attention, blocking the laptop screen in the process. Then she was diverting my attention by pawing at the window trying to get outside. Shortly thereafter she was pawing at the other side of the glass to get back inside. And shortly after that she was pawing at the wall near the window just because she wanted to annoy me and she knows I hate the sound of claws on on walls.

And the whole thing just seemed so oddly ironic, because she almost never behaves like that... It almost felt like it was some weird karmic message from the universe about how I didn't need to learn more about the suffering of other people when I could be paying attention to my more pleasant (and more personally concrete) reality here in Portland. It's like she was using her animal cunning to anchor me on the selfish side of the divide, the side that she (and most pets) permanently live on.

Or maybe she was just being a furry little butthole?

It's hard to say. But I do know this for sure: I would not have had the same experience with this movie had I seen it in theaters.

Winner: No One Wins With This Shit

Fire At Sea on IMDB