Saturday, November 22, 2014

"OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie": self-revelation and reflection

OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie”, by Bud Clayman (with Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston, 2010) is a reflexive autobiography of a middle aged man with all the mental illnesses listed in the title.  The story is supposed to be about how this derailed his becoming a filmmaker, but then he makes this film!
He talks about his OC as in fact “harm OCD”.  There is an unsettling scene where he sits with his therapist and holds a knife near the therapist’s wrist, to prove a point about self-control.  I thought, well, he could just shave the wrist.

A typical symptom of “harm OCD” is having to retrace steps to make sure you didn’t harm someone.  You drive and hit a pothole, and believe you have to revisit the scene and make sure you didn’t run over someone.

There’s a prolonged sequence where he rides a bus in Philadelphia, and talks about looking away, outside, to avoid eye contact, and particularly staring at people.  I can remember a relevant incident like this myself in 1987 while on jury duty in Dallas.

There was a comment (maybe by the father) early in life that his disorder was “laziness”, not real mental illness.  He needed work.  He also had hoarding issues.  His symptoms were severe enough sometimes to require residential treatment. 

There is the idea of “purpose and service” to offset the idea of performing compulsions.  As the film progresses, he establishes links betweem OCD and Asperger’s. 

He looks a bit ungamely and potty as a middle aged adult, and at times seems unaware of it.  The appearance seems like that of neglect. But his dad, Morton Clayman, pesters him about “when are you going to meet someone and have children?”

In time, Bradford (his real name) starts to see "OC87" as a fantasy that keeps him from actually experiencing life rather than just watching it.  I know from experience that my own life seems very "real" to "me" but, at at a certain intellectual level, I appreciate that it is not pertinent to others, who take in intimate commitments (marriage and having children) that just aren't part of my own "reality".  Little details, about the workplace or personal matters, become "a world" or "universe" of their own. One reason that this develops is inability, when young, to do what society expects, especially according to gender.  Hence the "laziness" idea. It comes to be viewed through a moral lens.
Bradford makes reference to a clip from "The Anti-Matter Man" from the TV series "Lost in Space" as analogy to his own mind process.   His own film project becomes "Good Buddy, Bad Buddy". He also takes up boxing at one point.

This film does get me to reflect on how to make a movie about one's own life and make it interesting without becoming too self-indulgent.  I've always felt that I needed more "externalities" in my own writings and concepts than this presenter does.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Netflix (liked it "moderately").
The official site is here (FilmRise).  I watched the film on Netflix;  it is free on Amazon Prime.  

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