I might have mentioned once or twice that I love the Wachowskis. It's really not an exaggeration to say that this blog might not be what it is if The Matrix and V for Vendetta hadn't meant something deep and personal to me at key times; hadn't played a part in informing my feelings about social justice, resistance, and the value of some personal sacrifice for a greater cause.
A lot of writers, and a lot of filmmakers, tell epic stories to inspire us to better selves in our decidedly un-epic lives, but there's something very specific about the Wachowskis' collective voice that speaks to me in a way that uniquely moves me.
It's maybe because we have a similar sensibility about some things. They're from Chicago, too, and we're separated in age by less than a decade. I relate, hard, if on a smaller scale, to their desire for a level of anonymity while engaging in a public career—the aversion to a press that wants to define you in clichés, and trying to navigate some sort of balance between knownness and notoriety, and being visible for a purpose. I would say I get them, but I don't know them: It's really more accurate to say I feel like they'd get me. Them, I admire.
I won't call them my heroes, but only because it has always seemed such an unfair thing, to me, to call someone a hero—to put someone on a pedestal from which they cannot escape and lionize them to the virtual point of dehumanization. It's such a terrible way to recognize the rarity of a person whose work and example are so meaningful that I aspire to follow their lead, this instinct to ignore their complex humanity (lest one spy a flaw, oh dear), when their humanity is a fundamental part of what makes them admirable in the first place.
After all, they live in the same shitty world that we all do, and have the same human foibles, but manage to be kind and wise despite the cultural cacophony of disincentives to be either.
To call someone a hero, it seems to me, steals them of the hard work they do to deserve admiration in the first place and replaces it with a distancing exceptionalism—which is really just a way of excusing myself from working just as hard. So I don't have heroes.
But if I did, the Wachowskis would be on that list.
Anyway. That was a long-winded introduction to this, a speech Lana Wachowski gave the other night to the Human Rights Campaign's annual gala dinner in San Francisco, where she was presented with the Visibility Award. I pretty much blubbed through the entire thing, FYI. (Shocking, I know.)
[Full transcript of Lana's speech here.]
I am here because Mr. Henderson taught me that there are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn't find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value.All the blubs in the world. All of them.