Last night, a friend in the UK sent me a link to the new Louis Theroux documentary on BBC2. She’d seen it as it aired a couple hours earlier. I managed to find a version online that I could stream from the UK. But I also found a version to share here with you. It’s on youtube, so the link might be taken down if it gains popularity. Here is a good review and also a link to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) in the UK, which features in the film.
I’ll watch pretty much anything that Louis Theroux puts out, if I have access to it or hear about it, that is. I’ve been a big fan ever since moving to the UK ten years ago. Vernon and I used to watch a lot of interesting television together…when something interesting was on, that is. It helped me understand British culture better, watching these kinds of shows with him…especially since Vernon was right there with me, explaining all the nuances I never would have understood otherwise, not really. Anyway, Louis Theroux used to make all these outrageous shows where he would interview cultural outliers with his gentle but straightforward style of questioning. He managed to have a disarming approach, slightly awkward, annoyingly smart. Both Vernon probably admired him for different reasons, but we both enjoyed watching him engage with the oddballs— people in society we never would have known anything personal about otherwise. Totally fascinating stuff.
Anyway, here is the film. I hope you can take the time to watch it. I think its really important work. Heartbreaking stuff, even for a toughie like me to watch….but so well-told and engaging.
Now, obviously as I’ve said before, every brain injury is different, so those of us who struggle with it have to plod along alone. I know more about this than the doctors I speak to, but I don’t have a guide map either. It’s just machete-ing ahead indefinitely. And that’s what the people in this film are doing …I can relate with that. I was impressed (and slightly jealous) by the system set up by the BIRT and the Disabilities Trust. Vernon has so many other disabilities, I know, but just looking at the brain injury at the moment, there was a lot to relate with in the people interviewed. What impressed me most was Louis’ sensitivity in conversation. He sets a very good example of how to be around people with these kinds of disabilities. Just like the people in the film, Vernon responds best when he is treated eye-to eye, as an equal intellectual, who can communicate from the heart on the important things if not with an understanding of the details. He responds best when he is included. (I think we can all relate to that too.)
“Uniquely, among physical impairments, brain injury affects our deepest sense of who we are…In my time immersed in it, I’d met people caught between old and new selves, working to get their lives back, but with a changed sense of who they now were. The challenge they were engaged in was nothing less than to re-create themselves, with new limitations but also great possibility.”