Sunday, March 25, 2018

"Let's Get Drunk!"

If you know me, you surely recognize that the words of the title are not mine. Rather, they are the words in a wonderful (pun intended) movie that was unnecessarily marred by those words.
Carl’s Recommendation
June and I have two fine grandsons (as well as five fine granddaughters). Carl Joseph Seat Daoust is our younger grandson, and we greatly enjoyed being with him and his parents last month in Tucson, Arizona, where they live.
Prior to our visit, Carl and his mother (Karen) read together the children’s novel Wonder (2012) by Raquel Jaramillo, who published her book under the pen name R.J. Palacio. They then saw the 2017 movie based on that novel.
Carl, who will turn 11 in August, was very favorably impressed by the book and the movie—and he highly recommended both. He also strongly suggested that we read the book before seeing the movie.
June did, but I failed to get that done before we watched the movie earlier this month. I greatly enjoyed the movie anyway.
Auggie’s Determination
The central character of “Wonder” is August, whom everyone calls Auggie. He is a boy just Carl’s age—but he was unfortunately born with serious facial deformities, which even multiple plastic surgeries were not able to fix very well. 
Auggie, who reportedly looks better in the movie than as he was portrayed in the novel.
Auggie has a good and supporting family: very loving, understanding parents and an outstanding big sister. His mother largely gives up her own work in order to help Auggie in his early years, and then she home-schools him. When he is ready for the fifth grade, they decide it is time for Auggie to start public school.
Fortunately, Auggie’s classroom teacher and school principal are very understanding and supportive. (I wish every kid could have as good a teacher as Mr. Browne and as wise a principal as Mr. Tushman.)
Unfortunately, Auggie experiences negative attitudes from most of the other kids at school—and most hurtful of all is the betrayal of the first friend he had among his classmates. But in spite of all the snubs, hurts, and active rejection, Auggie hangs in there with remarkable determination and fortitude.
My Consternation
Near the end of Auggie’s school year, his mother, admirably played by Julia Roberts, finally is able to finish her long-neglected master’s dissertation. When she shows the finished copy to her husband, he rejoices with her. That is when she exclaims, “Let’s get drunk!”
Why was that brief scene with those words inserted, for Pete’s sake?
It seems so unnecessary to have that line in such a heart-warming children’s movie. Why did the filmmakers want to leave the impression with the kids watching the movie that that is the way adults celebrate when they are happy?
Perhaps I am not qualified to write about getting drunk, since I never did and never intend to. But have seen the antics of drunk people, and, on occasion, have tried to engage in conversation with people who were drunk.
And I have known, and especially known of, people who killed themselves or were killed by others because of driving drunk. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation reports that in 2016 there were 10,497 “alcohol-impaired crash fatalities.”
That is more than 27 a day every day of the year—and a sizeable percentage of those were school-age kids. We are upset when 17 students get shot and killed–as, certainly, we should be. But that many die every week because of drunk drivers!
So why do some people think getting drunk is a great way to celebrate? And why should “Let’s get drunk!” be included in a heart-warming, inspiring children’s movie?


  1. WONDER is a wonderful story. However, it brings out memories of the best and worst in me. (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Father in Heaven, conform me into the image of Your only begotten Son.)

    Sadly, there are vices of life which entrap each of us. The abuse of alcohol is but one. In Jewish tradition, excess should be reserved for weddings and Purim - and never mixed with the use of vehicles. I lost a cousin to a drunk driver - she had been married for about 2 months. The scene certainly did not fit with this movie.

  2. The first comments I received this morning were from local Thinking Friend Ed Chasteen:

    "It should not be. The film sounds good. Good for your grandson."

    Here is my short response to his short, pertinent comments:

    Thanks, Ed. Agreed. It is. Yes, I have been very happily impressed with Carl's empathy for others, something his school teachers have​ mentioned to his mother.

  3. Here are comments from Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago.

    "Thanks, Leroy, for bringing this film to our attention.

    "I agree that the title is unfortunate; it was probably picked by the executives in the front office of the film company with the belief that it would make the film more marketable. Perhaps they were right. Nonetheless, it must be a very moving film and I will try to see it. Most of us have been very fortunate to have been born with good health and free of handicaps. We have a moral obligation to help and stand with those who are less fortunate.

    "And by the way, I have been drunk on a few occasions. I do not recommend it."

  4. I'll play the devil's advocate with a quick story. First let me say that Eric is near the top of the list of the people I admire (both for his head and his heart). Then let me tell a tale out of school and say that he may not recommend getting drunk, but he and a friend made it their mission one day to take me to a bar to get me good and drunk (one of the few times in my life). I had recently been kicked out of all my Christian friends' lives, and these two agnostics decided this would be good for me. And it probably was. (Eric didn't drink much and was a responsible designated driver.)

  5. A Thinking Friend in northwest Missouri is a retired State Patrolman. He sent me this one-word comment:


  6. Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson in Kentucky shares these personal comments:

    "Starting life in a family torn apart by alcoholism, I couldn’t agree more heartily with you, Leroy. Alcoholism is a disease, and we should not use phrases that encourage drunkenness. I’m not happy to witness the promotion of Kentucky Bourbon. Bourbon may be one of Kentucky’s biggest industries, but it should not be highlighted as it is in this state. People don’t need encouragement to resort to alcoholic beverages any more than they needed encouragement to smoke."

  7. Did anyone else think "product placement" when reading about the odd "drunk" remark in the movie? Big corporations with lots of things to sell pay movie makers to insert references and actual products into movies. We may smile when we see the latest Apple computer in a movie, but some products have a much darker background. Product placements do not just reflect culture, they are designed to steer culture. Ask the NRA how it works. Now in this particular instance, I have no way of knowing whether this was just an unfortunate choice, or an actual product placement. It certainly reinforces the default assumption in our society that whenever in doubt, go get a drink! Or was our recoil what they hoped to provoke? One caveat, per the above comments, I have never been drunk, but do not ask me how many times I have eaten too much pizza. It is possible Pepperoni has become my patron saint!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Craig. I hadn't known much about "product placement," but I found there are numerous articles, with examples, on the Internet.

      Since there was no particular brand of alcohol mentioned by Auggie's mother, I don't think it was an example of product placement. It was, though, perhaps an example of "culture placement," that is, an attempt to make the drinking culture seem cheerful and celebratory.

      And Craig, while gluttony, indeed, is one of the "seven deadly sins," I am not sure eating too much pizza from time to time could be labeled as gluttony, and I certainly don't think there have been many fatal traffic accidents caused by people who ate too much pizza--unless there have been accidents in some instances caused by heart attacks (which could actually be the case sometimes, I guess).

  8. Thinking Friend Truett Baker in Arizona shares the following comments:

    "I can resonate with your concern but I have heard people say that in jest to emphasize a celebrating spirit, when that would be the last thing in the world they would actually do. The propriety of using that expression in a children's book or movie is tasteless.

    "I am a moderate user of alcohol. When my missionary brother was a chaplain in Germany after the war, he discovered that German Baptist drank beer like it was water but rarely were drunk. The same when he was a missionary in Israel. The Arabs and Jews drank wine with impunity and Dwight joined them. I have no problem with abstainers but wish they would quite using the Bible to back up their abstinence values. Jesus denounced the Scribes and Pharisees for all their 'man-made' rules and Baptist have their own set of man-made rules including the use of beverage alcohol.

    "People who drink and drive use very poor judgement and probable sin against society.

    "Thanks for the blog!"

    1. Thank you for the wisdom, Truett. I was raised near to "all 17 of the 10 Commandments". Most people are well aware of the vice which most afflicts them. There are several. But most also wear a good facade to cover for it. There needs to be better teaching on the vices within the Church. Confession and absolution would be a first step - but not the "accountability group" (whether church or AA) where one just lies about it and continues living the excess of the vice. Churches are good at destroying the lives of the people they despise/hate.

      My father considered me to be an alcoholic since I was known to have a glass of wine or a beer a couple of times per year. He missed the point because of a presupposition from his own hurt - two of his family died because of their excess. And he missed helping me in my area of weakness, because I had a good facade. We each need to find some help in tackling our vices. BTW - my vices have changed over the years.

    2. Truett, thanks for again reading and responding to another blog article.

      There are several things I could say in response to what you wrote, but let me just share this: drinking alcoholic beverages is very common in Japan, even among Christians (except, perhaps, for those who are members of very conservative churches with a strong American missionary influence).

      Especially at off-campus school dinners/parties, drinking was very common. I saw no reason to change my early decision not to drink. But I tried never to make drinking an issue and certainly never suggested that others should not drink.

      When, on occasion, I was asked if I did not drink because I was a Christian, I usually said that it was just my personal choice: I didn't think there was any need to drink alcoholic beverages nor did I have any desire to. That seemed to be a satisfactory way to move the conversation on to other, more important matters.

      One good thing about Japanese society, though is that there are very strict laws against drunk driving, and most Japanese--and least the type of Japanese I had most association with--would not think of driving after drinking.