Saturday, February 28, 2009

America by Joyce Eliason

We just returned from the parents house in Orem after watching "America" on Lifetime, with the teleplay written by Joyce. Gabe was with us and it was an interesting experience watching a movie about sexual abuse with an 11 year old. I don't think he saw anything that he hasn't seen in some form before but the overtones of abuse definitely got his attention. Foster care is something I don't have any direct experience with--can't recall ever meeting a "foster kid" in any school grade and don't remember meeting any foster parents who took these kids in--but the story is a direct hit between the eyes. These kids are in pain and have taken some heavy physical and psychological blows very early in their lives. How they recover (and very few of them do-only about 20% ever return to a normal life without winding up in the streets, in a cell or in a coffin) and how they communicate their pain is the central vein of America. Some kids communicate by cutting themselves, branding their bodies, attempting suicide or try their damndest to never communicate and dull the pain through the other obvious outlets: drugs, drink, and sex.

Rosie O'Donnell is not my favorite anything. Actor, person, talk show host, what have you, she just strikes me as a pitbull bred for getting what she wants, and not caring about how she gets what she wants. This is the priviledge we have as non-celebrity types: we can pass judgement on these people with impunity because they have the lives that we all secretly feel we deserve. (This is a common theme of this blog so maybe it's just me feeling this way...). BUT, back to Rosie. As soon as she came on the screen I was prepared to hate her. I don't think she can act and yet within five minutes I was in. She was Dr. B and she was the caring, attentive doc that these sad kids need. She's not going to reach everyone and she knows it. The pragmatism of Dr. B punctuated with her obvious desire to help got me past the "Rosie Factor".

The kid who played America I'm told was found in a diner just days before shooting. I haven't spoken to Joyce on this so it's a little secondhand, but apparently the producers were going for a no-name with raw skills and raw emotion and I think he delivered. Alll of us were pulling for this character to come to some kind of grip with his past and when the cathartic moment came, it was satisfying. Jil, Gabe and I discussed the movie on the way home and we'll probably discuss it again tomorrow. That is a TV victory for me.


  1. i know you sent a note to joyce after the show, and she really, really appreciated it. she said that her larry did not want nevin to watch the show because of the sexual undertones, but we both agreed that kids this age should be aware of even more bad things that go on in this they don't have enough stuff thrown at them all of the time.
    i hate the music you have on right now, but i love you.
    idea..why don't you go back to college, get
    a teaching degree and teach high school english, or high school "life"?
    you could do most of it on line..
    why not.

  2. We watched and enjoyed too. It was interesting. Grant's two sisters were adopted from foster care. They were 7 and 9 and Grant's family basicaly saved them from a sad situation. It's really terrible what some of those kids have to go through... on a side note I like the blog makeover. It's soothing yet with edge... much like you!