Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Separated by a common state

           Matthew McConaughey goes to my church and the other day, he was sitting a couple of rows behind me. I’m pretty sure he looked at me several times during the service. Of course, his wife and kids were with him, but still I felt we were getting close.
It’s that seven degrees of separation thing. Now that Matthew and I are friends (at least there’s friendship on my part), I’m two degrees away from the movie, “Bernie.” My friend who lives in the Four Seasons in downtown Austin is a neighbor to one of the actors who played a Carthage resident, the guy who was so, so funny. She is also two degrees away from the movie. But I digress.
The Carthage folks in “Bernie,” whether they were real or actors, were actually only one degree of separation from most of us in Texas. We don’t just know people like that. We are related to them. Richard Linklater got them just right. He hit on that balance between their philosophical bigotry and their actual demeanor, which is quite often not bigoted at all.  They were so spot on — the way they looked, the way they talked, the storytelling.
Who can explain why an entire town stood behind a man they were almost sure killed one of their most upstanding citizens? I can. For whatever reason — probably a reason of the heart — they perceived Bernie Tiede to be one of them. They probably knew he was gay. They probably knew he was up to no good, hanging around the rich widow with his eyes on her money. And eventually they probably knew he killed her and stuffed her body in a deep freeze in her kitchen. But they loved him all the same.
It’s eccentric, just as Texas is eccentric. You can’t pigeonhole it. It sometimes defies description, much less definition. Most southerners are like that, too, as are most southern movies and novels. It makes northerners nervous, liking their stereotypes all neat and tidy like they do. But for most of us in the south, it’s just, well … home.
“Bernie” is based on Skip Hollandsworth’s Texas Monthly article, “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” which is a great read. You can find it here http://www.texasmonthly.com/1998-01-01/feature4.php
So I passed up the opportunity to see Matthew in “Magic Mike” because as far as I know, he doesn’t play one of the male strippers. Although, I may need to rethink that decision.

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