Sunday, April 22, 2012


I recently caught up with the highly disturbing film DOWNLOADING NANCY, and would love to say that it is a must watch, but for most it would be far too unpleasant a tale to gain anything from it. After all a story of a suburban housewife so deadened to the world that she wants a man she finds online to kill her isn't exactly inspiring fare. Especially as it's clear that she was damaged by years of sexual abuse that have left her barren. Perfect rearing for the non-physical abuse of her humorless, passionless marriage.

Yes, it's a dreary as it sounds, but it is oddly compelling too. Nancy has become a creature that only responds to extreme pain, and her mind wants to take things to their logical conclusion by soliciting her own murder. Of course, that isn't logical at all, which brings me to what the movie does better than any film I've seen. It exposes the difficulty inherent in dealing with a loved one who is depressed, maybe even suicidal.

In the movie it is clear that Nancy has not always been at the point of no return. There are moments of playfulness that she tries to create and explore, but years of having that instinct stamped down leads her to feel that she is worthless. Every positive instinct she has is perverted into a negative judgement by someone close to her. So she's been trained to consider herself worthless. Her therapist tries to get through to her, but a logical approach is hopeless in the case of someone this emotionally damaged. It's nice to believe that giving a much needed ear to someone who is hurting can save them from their darker thoughts, and I'm sure in many cases that helps. But it's important to realize that if someone has decided that suicide is the path that makes the most sense for them, almost always an illogical choice, you cannot use logic to dissuade them from it.

Nancy is loved, and has value in the film, she simply lacks the ability to recognize it. She thinks her only way out is death, and has worked herself into a psychological state that does not allow her to consider other options. If you know someone walking down this path, get them help. Get them aggressive help. Fuck social niceties. Those in this mindset are not psychologically competent to take care of themselves, and it's a disservice to them to act as though they are.

Again, big difference between talk of suicide and actual movement towards, but neither one is something you can afford to sweep under the rug.

What the movie really comes down to, though, is Nancy's lack of self-worth. It's clear that at many moments she could have been given support and her better instincts might not have become inexorably buried. So riffing off that, I would encourage everyone out there, become a fan of people.

Your loved ones, your friends, strangers on the street, they all have something important to them, close to their heart that they put themselves into. Support them. Ask them about it. When it's finished, eat it, or read it, or play with it, or marvel at it. Want to see the wold be a better, happier place? Learn to cheerlead. Be unabashedly enthusiastic about something for someone. Surprise them. Lift them up.

Sure it's best to find your happiness from within, with no need for the approval or adoration of others. But most of us aren't quite at that spiritual level. Most of us toil along wondering if the time we spend on our dream is wasted, if at the end of it all we're good enough. You can help keep a dream going for years with the simple act of appreciation.

So while DOWNLOADING NANCY is a rough ride, I found it to be rife with important lessons. Especially about how seriously wrong many of our instincts may be about helping a person who is truly suicidal.

But most importantly it reminded me of how important it is to simply