On September 20, 2023

The Movie Diary: All aboard the Crazy Train


We’re all born with gifts. Some folks are natural athletes, while others are adept at music. I’ve met people who could rattle off a stream of mathematical equations, and I’ve met others who could lift up the back end of a Chevy. No matter who you are or what your place is in life, undoubtedly there’s a hidden talent buried inside you. 

Of course, your special talent may not be obvious to others. For instance, my talent is veiled within my own head: I know crazy.

For whatever reason, I have always had the ability to notice even the slightest flicker of instability inside of a person. No matter how well you disguise it, I’ll see it there lurking in the back of your eyes. I’ve noticed “crazy” in old people and children, professionals and the down-and-outs, pleasant individuals and complete jerks.

For a long time, I was unaware of this ability. I would meet someone and just get a feeling. Later in life (and after countless uncomfortable situations), I started to realize what this feeling was. With a self-diagnosis in hand, I went out into the world with my special talent — like Spider-Man with his Spidey-sense or a palm reader who could only read the crazy line. I have used it ever since to navigate my life more effectively.

Keep in mind, I am not a licensed therapist, I have no psychological schooling outside of a few required college courses, and I have no proof to substantiate my claims. I just know that I know crazy. If you see me on the street and put me to the task on this subject, I’ll have zero recourse to defend myself.

In weak moments, I want God to rid me of this bizarre ability, while other times I fantasize about the government hiring me to vet future political candidates (because we all know that most political candidates have the crazy vibe lurking in them; perhaps it’s a prerequisite to wanting the job in the first place?).

I’ve never used this special gift for good or evil, I don’t suggest to those that I deem lacking in sanity to seek out help, and I don’t condemn the insane when I am loitering with “normal” people. I merely file the information away and act accordingly (i.e., I don’t let them handle babies around me, I avoid the introduction of firearms, and I make sure a phone is within close proximity). But most importantly, I pay careful attention when one of them begins circling my work environment.

The workplace is the one instance where I’ve learned that you want to keep crazy at bay. I’ve seen entire offices upended when someone brings their emotional baggage into an organization. In fact, I’ve been the focal point of someone who appeared completely normal but was clandestinely touched — and it’s not fun. 

The true crazy employee can’t be reasoned with and genuinely believes that their reality is the only reality, which can be epically disrupting to a team environment. 

It’s important to be able to separate someone who is at odds with reality with those who are just having a tough time with life. There’s a big difference here; generally, one is temporary, while the other is permanent. A difficult situation occurring at home can affect someone’s day-to-day routine and make them seem insane, but the reality is that they’re just in the midst of a challenging state.

I’ve mentioned my fascination with the YouTube channel, “Soft White Underbelly,” many times in this column. This is the home of crazy (it’s also the home of sadness, curiosity, and the bizarre). Many of the interviewees on this channel are in states of severe mental illness or deep psychosis, which makes it easy for anyone to see and feel the disturbances within others. 

I honestly believe that “Soft White Underbelly” has enhanced my ability to ferret out crazy, given that it exposes such a wide array of incarnations. You may want to check it out as well, just so you’re prepared when crazy comes knocking at your door.

In this week’s feature, “Painkiller” (a theatrical documentary about the OxyContin opioid epidemic), we get a first-hand look at how one crazy family caused immense pain, suffering, and death to countless millions with the distribution of a “harmless” drug.  

The Sackler family and their assault on an unsuspecting public is at the heart of this 6-part mini-series starring Matthew Broderick. The series starts from decades prior and eventually flows to present day to show how manipulative and coercive members of the Sackler family were in placing powerful and addictive narcotics into the hands of naïve patients.

Check this one out if you were affected by the OxyContin epidemic or if you’re simply curious how big pharma wields power over your life. In either case, it’s sad and disturbing.

A traumatizing “B” for “Painkillers,” now available for streaming on Netflix. 

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.


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