Thoughts on Frank T.J. Mackey and Magnolia

In the wonderful movie Magnolia (my favorite movie, for those wondering), Tom Cruise plays the incredibly distasteful Frank T.J. Mackey, creator of "Seduce and Destroy," a system for men to manipulate women into having sex with them. During one of his seminars, he sits down for an interview with a female reporter. She systematically tears down the carefully constructed facade he has created for himself, and, in response, he retreats into anger and silence, claiming only to "silently judging" her.

Later, he is confronted with the evil man who has created the monstrous Mackey, and he is reduced to tears despite his oath: "I won't cry for you." I was reminded as I watched of the last meeting of the Gospel According to The Office, which dealt with reality. Mackey created a reality that he bought into, and wanted everyone else to do the same. When confronted with the REAL reality, he self-destructed. It was only through this self-destruction that he was brought anything like redemption.

This week's "This Week at Grace" cartoon is a down-and-out cockroach bemoaning the fact that he once owned his own company, until someone yelled, "Hey! He's just a big cockroach!" The faux reality comes crashing down, and the truth reigns supreme. This interplay between realities, the ones we create for ourselves and "the real" (See The Matrix) is a hallmark of what it means to be human. What happens when one takes over? When we begin to believe we are the thing we have created? Is it the crash that allows redemption to come in, as it did for Frank T.J. Mackey? Is it, in fact, "always darkest before the dawn?"

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