David Byrne's 1986 film True Stories is absurd and satirical-- but there's more to it than that. It's sad and haunting too-- and genuinely fond of its subjects.
In this scene, a woman-- Kay Culver-- sings a song to accompany a fashion show. She has petrified hair and Fox News makeup, and wears a prim Nancy Reagan dress that is way too old for her. Still, she can carry a tune, and her voice is sweet. Her song, Dream Operator has a catchy melody; the lyrics are pretty-- if in a candied, Thomas Kinkade kind of way. "Shopping is a feeling," Kay says rapturously. Later she sings "Let the children do the shopping." Kay's song builds to a climax that is both grandiose and authentically grand.
When I drive through landscapes of strip malls and McMansions, I find these places artificial and horrific. But there's a stark, surreal beauty to them too-- and to the people who live there, those places are home sweet home; the Culvers are entitled to no less. If ecosystems must be spoiled to green their lawns, animals tortured to fill their refrigerators, and soldiers killed to keep them free, they can accept and even defend that.
Why shouldn't the Kay Culvers of this world have their dreams? It's likely too difficult for them to face the fact that their lives are wasteful and destructive-- unfair to expect them to concede that animals and the poor pay the price for their luxuries. A revolutionary hates all Culvers, and doesn't mind killing them-- but a reformer has to find a way to talk to them-- and a saint or an artist must love them. The artist's task is hard, but the saint's is harder. It's easier to love in fiction. With no pretensions to sainthood, I can love Kay Culver from afar.