|Posted by opheliacrane on June 4, 2016 at 10:00 PM|
On my list of favorite movies forever and ever of all time is the 90’s James Cameron flick, Strange Days.
Now, I would imagine that there are only a certain number of people that know anything about this movie. In Michigan, if you saw this movie when it came out, you and I probably hung out at City Club way back when I was a Goth kid. It’s the same kind of Tank Girl, Johnny Neumonic, cyber-punk kind of flick that was popular back then.
So, this movie stars the man who would become Voldemort and the woman who would was Tina Turner in what was about four years in the future. Rather, the movie came out in 1995 and it takes place in 1999. I have so many reasons why I love this movie.
The fact that Angela Bassett plays a legit strong female character while being smoking hot AND classy at the same time. The social commentary on L.A.’s treatment of blacks in the 90s. Ralph Feinnes’ performance as the kind of hapless accidental hero. Juliette Lewis singing P.J. Harvey. Tom Sizemore…being Tom Sizemore…
What I’m going to talk about, however, is something that occurred to me today while watching it for the gajillionth time.
First, let me tell you that it took me a hundred times before I realized the actual point of the story as a whole. To tell you why, I have to lay out the movie for you. So, for those who haven’t seen it and might want to, there be spoilers coming. You’ve been warned.
Okay, so it’s around New Years 1999 in L.A and people are rioting…because, you know, the end of the world is coming.
You guys remember that, right? The world was supposed to end in 2000…or at least Y2K was supposed to obliterate us all by crashing every computer in the world.
For all your millennials out there, just so you know, nobody rioted that I’m aware of and our computers turned out to be just fine. Don’t believe everything you see in the movies.
Anyways, it’s the end of the world as we know it and there’s a new device out called a S.Q.U.I.D. deck. S.Q.U.I.D. stands for…uh…well, I forget to be honest. But what it does is allows you to view pre-recorded memories. It’s like, somebody wears the deck, has sex with a hot blonde, then sells it. The wearer of the recorded deck gets to experience the memory like it was their own. Pretty neat, huh? It’s like a VR headset with memories.
The main character, Lenny, (played by He Who Must Not Be Named) sells these memories, which is illegal because apparently it messes up your brain.
Lenny’s kind of scummy. Not in a bad way, but rather in a used car salesman kind of way. He’s also addicted to using the S.Q.U.I.D. deck because they contain the memories of he and his ex-girlfriend, Faith.
Hang in there, I’m getting to the point. So, Lenny gets caught up in a scandal that turns out to be the recorded memory of a prominent black activist getting gunned down by police. He and his friend Mace (Angela Bassett) get chased down by crooked cops and get involved in this twisty turny scheme that turns out to have been orchestrated by his best friend (Tom Sizemore), who turns out to be sleeping with Faith (the object of Lenny’s obsession) and plans to set poor Lenny up for murder.
So, Lenny defeats his evil best friend, his ex-girlfriend is arrested, the corrupt cops commit suicide, and all is right with the world. The whole thing ends with Lenny kissing Mace as the new year rings in.
Now, I left out a bunch of stuff, of course, but basically, that’s how the story plays out and for a while, I didn’t understand the kiss between Lenny and Mace. They were friends, just friends, all through the movie. After all, Lenny was into Faith. So much so that he had a box full of S.Q.U.I.D. deck memories of the two of them together. He follows her and begs to allow him to be her valiant protector even though she’s telling him to go screw himself at every turn…
Then, on the hundredth time watching the movie, it hits me.
Mace is there for him, even though she doesn’t approve of what he does for a living, even though he’s still in love with Faith, even though she knows that his reliving their memories is just making him more obsessed and more in love with Faith. When the cops or Faith’s boyfriend’s guards beat his ass, she defends him like she’s Chuck Norris…literally. When he actually contemplates trading the all important tape (that shows the death of the black activist) for Faith’s freedom – Faith! Who doesn’t love him anymore. Who’s said everything short of “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE YOU LOSER!” – Mace is still there. She threatens to leave him on the curb if he does trade the tape, but let’s be real folks, she wasn’t ever going anywhere. You see, Mace’s there, by his side, the entire time.
And why? Why on earth does Mace do so much for Lenny??
Because she loves him. She’s loved him the whole time. Fairly early in the movie, we see her remembering why despite all these things, she loves him. At one point in time, when she needed somebody the most, he was there for her.
That leads me to the thought I had, on this, the gajillionth time watching Strange Days. Why didn’t I see it on the first time I watched this movie?? Her attraction to Lenny is pretty obvious in the things she says, the decisions she makes for him, that bad ass dress she wears to the big party at the end of the movie – That wasn’t for the party! That was for Lenny!
And then it hit me. If both Lenny and Mace had been black or if the both of them had been white, I would have seen it. I would have seen it IMMEDIATELY. I hate to say it because I always considered myself to be a pretty progressive person in terms of race, but I know that if Lenny had been played by Lawrence Fishburne, I never would have questioned it.
I used to say that I didn’t notice because of everything that was happening in the movie and there is a lot going on, but not so much that I would miss what the whole damned movie was actually about. Lenny’s character needed to move past his toxic relationship with the memories of his ex and move forward with the one woman who’d been there for him since jump. That’s it, folks. That’s the whole point of Strange Days…and I missed it because like a lot of us, I’ve been programmed to see a certain kind of leading couple onscreen.
Now that I see it, though, I can’t go back to sleep.