I watched Lock-Up Extended Stay the other night for the first time in years, having dismissed it as too voyeuristic and depressing.
Now, it seems to be full of existential wisdom.
You can view the prison as a metaphor for Life, with each convict choosing a method of coping
One prisoner doesn’t dwell on the sordid past and seems unduly optimistic about what lies ahead. One prisoner admits his terrible crimes but feels at peace with himself. Another blames everything on someone else, never taking ownership of any choice or action.
One prisoner, Elijah, is my new role model and I will go so far as to call him my Happy Place.
Elijah is waiting to be transferred to the prison where he will serve his sentence for robbery or something. He doesn’t like the jail where he is, and he expresses his displeasure by flooding the toilet in his cell.
At the time we meet him, the jailers are already sick of this. Elijah has also managed to break the cell’s sprinkler system a few times.
He doesn’t like being in general population because he ‘doesn’t fit in.’ He performs in a drag act and has a soft feminine voice with a lisp. At the same time, he is tough, and looks capable of serious violence.
Elijah is moved to a disciplinary cell-block as punishment for flooding the toilet. They take away his socks, which he has used to perform his mischief.
At some point, Elijah admits that he isn’t really protesting cell conditions; he enjoys antagonizing a hostile jailer. “I just don’t like his ath,” he explains.
The warden thinks he’s solved the problem but Elijah sticks his arm down the toilet to make it overflow.
Now the warden is getting pissed. They make Elijah mop up the cell himself, even though is becomes a ridiculously complicated procedure.
Elijah says matter-of-factly that nothing will make him stop flooding the toilet. He’ll keep doing it until he is transferred.
In the Elijah allegory where prison is life, let’s interpret “transferred” as death.
Elijah has chosen a path of resistance, of defiance, of finding satisfaction in annoying his captors (i.e. the forces that be) instead of capitulating to authority. Life will be harder, but it will be a principled life.
I think we should live by our principles, even if they’re stupid. They’re all you’ve got, in the end. They’re the only thing you can control.
On a whole different note, I also learned that you can make eye shadow by mixing crayons with roll-on deodorant.