The Education Of
The documentary I mentioned the other day, The Education of Shelby Knox, was aired last night here in New York City. I hope people had a chance to watch it, but if you missed it, maybe you can catch it on rebroadcast. It is worth it. Check your local listings.
Okay, Shelby's name is in the title, and it's true it's her story and she travels a good ways in the film and she pretty much does most of the heavy lifting, but I have to say that I don't really consider her The Hero of the film. In my opinion, it's Mr. and Mrs. Knox, Shelby's Baptist Republican parents, who get that honor.
Watch the film. Watch it once just for Shelby's story. If that was the only story the film had to tell, it would be well worth watching.
Then watch it again and this time keep your eye on Mommy and Daddy Knox. Everything you need to know about what makes Shelby a remarkable person you will see right there in their respect for Shelby, in their love for her, in the mix of courage and good-humored but deep trepidation they show while letting this human being they came together to create grow into the person she feels she has to be.
You might think the reason the radical right opposes broadcast of this film is because it deals with someone, a high school girl, making a reasonable argument not just for better sex education in the schools but also for some sort of decency in the way gay high school kids are treated. You might think that's the reason they think this film is dangerous, but it's not.
In a post-broadcast interview, one of the filmmakers -- she seems like a nice Jewish lady from New York City though of course I can't be sure about the Jewish part -- remarks that the story takes place in a part of the country, Lubbock, Texas, that has a culture nearly if not completely foreign to her. She says one of the lessons she learned in going there and meeting up with this culture of the panhandle of Texas -- a culture that is in some ways in charge of this country at the moment -- is that no matter how foreign this place seemed to her, and how foreign she must have seemed to the people of Lubbock... the gap seemed crossable.
She says "reachable", I think, and that's the real danger in this film. It reminds us we can actually reach each other if -- as the filmmaker says -- we stop, look, and listen.
I admire Shelby Knox tremendously. I stand shamed before her courage and determination. But it's really her mom and dad that make me think the filmmakers are quite possibly right. We actually can reach each other.
It's a dangerous, dangerous message. It's the kind of message that can keep a people free.