One of the more astute watchers of my latest machinima Pieces of Your Heart is very troubled by it. “I wish they’d stop calling it sweet and beautiful,” he told me, referring to some of the online comments. “It’s one of the darkest movies in the whole bunch. You have a kid who runs away from home and fantasizes about going to a world of robots where everything is sweet and loving like he wishes his home was. And then there’s the note he leaves for his Mom saying he’s gone to another planet with a “friend.” What must she think? We all know what happens these days when a young kid goes off with a “friend.” I mean it has the poor woman in tears. But really, the kid just goes down the block to the park and hangs out on his own there. I’m not buying this trip to outer space with robots and all. He fantasizes all that, right? This is one disturbed kid. And then, who knows what happens to him in the park? He just disappears in a flash of light. I hate to think.”
People bring their own interpretations to a machinima. But I have to admit his is closer to what I had in mind than the “sweet and beautiful” accolades, though I do appreciate them, as I do all comments. After all, I did try to make the shots beautiful and all the characters beautiful in their own way, because no matter how disturbing, childhood is stunningly beautiful. So I do appreciate people seeing and commenting on this beauty.
But still, children do what they “have to do,” as the lyrics say in the opening song, Not Like You. Joey is troubled. He isn’t like anyone he knows, and he doesn’t fit in. He’s yet to discover that no one is like anyone else; no one fits in, and that’s just another way of saying we’re each of us unique, like a beautiful snowflake. Only to Joey it doesn’t seem so beautiful.
Does it matter to what degree what happens next is “real” – whether Joey really goes to another planet or just down to the local park to sit by himself on a wall? I mean, from Joey’s point of view, and that is the point of view of this movie, it’s all real. I went so many places in my Radio Flyer wagon as a kid. Those journeys were often far more real than the dinner table full of family tumult.
Kids see things all the time that they shouldn’t have to see. But they do. And so they do what they “have to do.” I applaud Joey. I rooted for him all through the whole making of the movie. I know he’ll make it. I know he’ll find kindness and light. I always do.