The question – Which side of the mirror are you on? – is inspired by my recent viewing of the anthology series on Netflix – Criminal
There are four separate versions to Criminal – a British, French, Spanish, and German one (listed in the order in which I viewed them), with three episodes each, all filmed on the same set.
It’s one of those claustrophobic environments which is rather dull, barren (except for a drinks machine which is up to all sorts of things which flummoxes people), focusing the attention on the people.
The people on both sides of the mirror – the law and those who may have broken the law (with an added layer of those on the law side slipping across the boundary to the other side).
And the stories of the people on both sides of the mirror going on within the limited space.
That space is one floor of a building where interrogations are carried out by a special police team.
The main action takes place on either side of a one-way mirror, with the viewer getting a third perspective of watching the watchers watching those being watched.
At certain times during the viewing of it… it occurred to me that the scenario of the one-way mirror could be applied to the psyche.
Certain parts of us tend to prefer to remain hidden – stay behind the one-way mirror watching, observing what’s one the other side.
Those hidden parts often watch the non-hidden, shown parts, and may do so like inner police watching a suspect.
We can be very critical of ourselves, especially of the parts of our self which interacts with others, says things and does things which others hear and see.
Our inner police is always watching, analysing, judging our self – Why did you do that? Why did you say that? Why did you look like that? Wtf were you wearing… I didn’t tell you that you could wear that!?
Of course we often pass the inner police onto those around us and think the judgments are coming from them, from outside of us…
Sometimes they are, but if you think about it, other people’s judgments of us only really get to us when they connect with an inner judgment which we hold of ourselves.
Someone telling you that you’re stupid according to them (who you may think is the stupidest person you’ve ever known… it’s funny how often it works that way) doesn’t bother you if you don’t worry that maybe you’re stupid or have an issue about being stupid… if it’s not an inner issue, it’s probably not an outer one either.
It’s sometimes easier to deal with the inner police when we project it onto those around us… Fuck you! – we say to them and feel better about it… until we begin to regret lashing out, but still… we stood up for ourselves, so this is good.
But at some point we have to re-own it or else we’ll get stuck in a versus dichotomy which will just keep going and going, passed onto others if the originals leave the scene.
At some point we have to join the inner forces of police and suspect, criminal, and make a whole out of it… if we want to stop being stuck in a never ending cycle of repetition of the same narrative.
Admittedly some people seem to love being stuck going around and around on the nigthmerrish-go-round… and we may like it too for a while, until we don’t and have to figure out how to stop it and get off of it which may not be as easy as falling off of it… especially if others are invested in keeping us stuck with them on it.
One of the other thoughts I had while watching Criminal was – If only humans would just stop lying for a moment and tell the truth.
I realise that idea is fraught with problems, such as what is truth? One person’s truth is another person’s non-truth… let’s not got here, right.
But how much time and effort could be saved and used for something more constructive and productive if we were just a bit more willing to say – I fucked up. And others were more willing to say – yeah, okay, we all fuck up and that’s not such a bad fuck up. But instead we’re all – I didn’t fuck up, you did! And so others say – We didn’t fuck up, you did! And now we’re all on a nightmerry-go-round-and-round together yet apart.
But of course if we were all more truthful and blunt about it… it would probably reduce the drama in life and perhaps make it too boring. Now what do we do with all of this life time?
We do like our villains and heroes trope, both in fiction and RL… usually with us as the hero, or the one who is holding out for a hero to save them from some almost supernaturally endowed villain…
I also watched a rather fascinating documentary in between watching the Criminal anthology…
If you ever wanted to see a narcissist in full-on overt narcissist mode, and find the shit that type of narcissist says comical, then – Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator – on Netflix is worth watching.
Some of the things he says, such as that he’s the most spiritual person ever in existence and the problem is that everyone else is too stupid to recognise it… omg, seriously!?! He said that out loud and proud. He meant it. What a sad fate, to be the most spiritual person ever… but everyone around you is an idiot – that’s such a truly super spiritual person’s perspective!
That documentary is a rather fascinating experience from an observational point of view of the power of groupthink…
And the problem of handing your personal power over to someone else because… they may have promised to solve all your problems for you magically and miraculously, but only if you give them all power over you.
Please note: Anyone who thinks I watched that documentary from a position of superiority complex, I didn’t… I watched it from a position of “oh shit, that could have been me falling for that bs…” because for much of my life I was someone looking for someone else who would make everything better, nirvana, for me… took me ages to realise that I had to do that for myself and that real nirvana is about accepting life as is and being okay with it and yourself as is.
That’s just my version of the concept… if you disagree with that, then my version is not your version too, and that’s okay.
Back to Criminal…
In the series, some of the suspects are guilty, and some are not – you figure who is what as the team does. In some cases the line between guilty and not guilty is blurred, tenuous, not clear at all.
Each team has their own drama going on within the team, which complicates matters, causes tension and hinders the investigation.
I’m only going to “spoiler” one episode – the last episode of the German version.
It’s my favourite story because it involved one of those moments wherein a person realises that their attitude and approach has been a major hindrance in solving a problem.
They saw everyone else as being the hindrance, especially their focal point – the villain.
If only they could change the villain, make the villain behave the way they wanted them to behave and be who they wanted the villain to be… which in this case required the villain to become a hero of sorts.
But if the villain changed, the hero (they) would have to change too.
The villain was the monster their hero self was fighting (thus proving what a hero they were due to fighting the villain) – if the monster is no longer a monster, what does the hero become? They sort of wanted the villain to remain as the monster in their life…
They thought they were right and righteous in having that attitude and approach, so it took a major shattering of self-constructs shift for them to accept that they were as much a part of the problem as the other person.
The person being interrogated in this instance was thoroughly guilty of the crimes they’d committed, was serving time for their crimes, had been for a long time and would never get out of prison.
It was a similar story to the Myra Hindley case.
The police team were trying to find out where a victim had been buried years before to give the mother of the victim resolution before she died – her death was imminent. This was all being done in a not really legal manner – the team could end up being disbanded and penalised for their tactics and antics.
The villain refused to cooperate, and had absolutely no incentive to do so… until a new member of the team stepped in (a member viewed as a sort of villain by the rest of the team due to policing politics).
The new member took over the interrogation. Which caused much disturbance to the main police guy who viewed this case as belonging to him – how dare someone else step in his shoes! This was his case, dammit!!! He was the hero here who would save the day!!!
But if it had remained his case and everyone had respected his boundaries of ownership and such… it would have continued to be a going nowhere, going around in a circle, stuck in a permanent rut with no resolution situation.
The new member stepping in and taking over shifted everything.
The new team member brought a new attitude and approach to the interrogation, and his old approach and attitude was shown up to be the main reason the villain did not cooperate.
His hate for the villain, his dogged determination to hate the villain and view her as a monster, had made the villain determined never to help him solve the final mystery in the case.
But the new interrogator did not view the villain as a monster… they saw the villain as a human who had done monstrous things.
A subtle yet powerful perspective.
With a focus on the human within the villain… little by little the monster side subsided, the villain showed a less villainous side, the person behind the facade, within, was seen… and the person felt seen.
And the villain finally shared what was needed to solve the mystery – which included an apology from the cop, an admission of his part in their stand-off and stalemate.
Because for the villain – the old attitude and approach cop was a villain, and they could be a hero fighting their villain.
It was one of those “oh shit” aha moments for the cop when he realised that his attitude and approach made things drag out far longer than they needed to… if only he’d not been so fixed in his stance… if only he’d realised sooner that he was part of the solution and problem not being resolved… thank goodness he allowed the shift to happen because if he’d been rigid in his stance, not a thing would have changed.
Humans… so very complex are we no matter who we are or what we’ve done or not done… it’s best to stay flexible in attitude and approach, not get fooled by the foolishness of ego, if we want to solve the mysteries which haunts us.
But that’s oh so hard to do… except in those moments when it isn’t.
Now I’m watching – The Staircase – it’s a documentary filmed over the course of many years which has been done with remarkable dedication to keeping things objective… as objective as is humanly possible.
The main thing which struck me about it is how quickly people were ready to condemn another person because those people condemning had rigid views on sexuality… and not sticking to the rigid view caused too much internal conflict.
The real situation was almost entirely secondary to the fact that a man was bisexual – this fact was sensationalised, called filthy and all sorts of other things… and this was viewed as more of a crime than the crime he was being accused of having committed.
While those that viewed him as the ultimate villain were quick to call him a narcissist… he’s one of the least narcissistic people I’ve had the chance to observe (albeit from a detached distance), those who viewed him as a narcissist on the other hand…
Human life is such a strange experience… however you look at it, whichever side of the mirror you’re on… or think you’re on.
Are we really on the side of the mirror we think we’re on?
Which side of the mirror are you on?
How many of you will say both sides? Why?