“Mrs. Doubtfire” Re-Mixed… and the Scary Side of Storytelling

Was introduced to a host of “re-make movie trailers” on Youtube a few years ago. They are the product of what we might call “video photoshopping.” Take a regular movie (say, Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Willie Wonka), excerpt the “right” scenes, string them together. Viola! it’s a whole new creation. With the right bed of music and titles thrown in, a once innocent and wholesome story has become a real horror story!

Case in point: Mrs. Doubtfire. Just look at what one individual has done to this story of a father’s love for his children and his desire to be with them:

Hard to see the original story in it at all, isn’t it?

Amazing, in fact, what can happen to a story if you accentuate some things over others… and inject enough other elements?! A story of love and dedication can be distorted into a nightmare! (And, in some cases out there, the opposite happens – when, e.g., “Silence of the Lambs” and “Schindler’s List” are reframed as comedies!)

For lack of better words, my initial responses to such remakes were “enjoyment” and “appreciation.” (After all, it takes some real creativity and talent to be about such remakes!)  

However, it wasn’t long until I found these first impressions yielding to a stronger sense of disturbance.  And, it goes beyond the dark humor that makes good bad and bad good.  

No, what I found (and find) most upsetting is the way that this kind of editing and morphing of stories is happening all around us—in ways we do not see… and with stories of much greater value and import.  Of course, there’s the media (at both ends of the spectrum, liberal and conservative) and what it does with stories.  

But, here, I am especially thinking of that Story which I consider most Sacred and ultimate: the Love Story revealed in and through the Christian Scriptures. Like Mrs. Doubtfire, it’s a story of a Father who simply wants to be with His children – going to great lengths to do so. Like Cinderella, it’s the story of a soul rising beyond the shaming voices all around – recognizing her true beauty and worth as a Princess. Like Mary Poppins, it’s a story that declares the blessedness of the beasts and the children over and against the material things of this world. But, oh how sad and tragic and disturbing when the Story falls into the wrong hands and hearts and minds—when love is turned into obsession and pursuit is turned into stalking and Heaven becomes Hell!!!

God and Truth dance in a thousand places (and more)!  And we—we who would seek to join that dance and these partners—must be sensitive and careful lest the Song of joy, peace, healing, and life become one of fear, doubt, and fire!

In an “authentic dance” with neighbor and world, it is true: “theirs” (these “others”/”outsiders”) is the burden of joining in—to open their ears and hear the Story and the Song. (We cannot force anything on them as much as we can and must extend – in word and deed – an invitation to them.) But, what chance do they have of really hearing that Story/Invitation and of really wanting to respond to it, if we’re not giving it the fair sounding (and rendering )it deserves and demands through our lives and living!?!

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