Last night, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Black Swan, the somewhat new indie flick starring Natalie Portman. I may do a review of the film, but for now, I want to discuss one theme that was prevalent throughout the movie—perfection. The need for most of us to be perfect and applauded for our perfect work, despite the costs associated with always being “on”.
I have discussed this before on my blog, but the movie dug up old wounds. I have been a perfectionist for the majority of my life, mostly because it is in my nature as a Virgo to be one. But as I get older, I find myself shedding my perfectionist standard for being real. In my opinion, real trumps perfection because some of the time, perfection isn’t always being true to one self.
In the film Black Swan, the lead character Nina, played by Natalie Portman, is on a quest for perfection. In doing so, her art suffers—because being a good artist (in this case dancer) is not about being perfect; it’s about being vulnerable, authentic, true. In being perfect, she hits her marks each time, but doesn’t do so with artistic grace that is called on to be the black swan. In order for her to truly succeed, she must let go of her inhibitions and feel what is real. Only when she does this does she impress the other company of dancers. It’s a very tragic and grotesque film, but it does show that sometimes people will do anything and pay any price for perfection.
I thought about this theme and how it pertains to real life. In our quest to be perfect, the art truly suffers. Take music for instance. In order to have a “perfect” sound, people result to using Pro Tools and studio equipment for the perfect song for an album. And when you hear it live, no matter how good the artist is performing, it never lives up to the album because it is so perfect. Every note, every vocal, every sound is put through a machine so it sounds perfect.
Back in the day, that wasn’t the case. You could often hear feedback in artist’s songs and it was okay. We loved the authentic vibe of the music because it made you feel something—it wasn’t a perfectly constructed piece of art but it was heart felt and real and true. And although it could never be duplicated live, we embraced the live performances as yet another version of the songs we loved.
We don’t do that now. Because after perfection, there is nowhere to go but down.
I don’t want to lose my heart, my soul, my realness for the sake of being perfect. I want people to see me stumble sometimes so they know I am real. I don’t want to be on all the time or look perfect all the time or play by the rules all the time because that is boring. Boring can be perfect but it’s not very entertaining, that is for sure.
I would rather people be real than be perfect.
In the film Black Swan, Nina paid the ultimate price for what she wanted. Only when she let go of her inhibitions did she realize the true beauty in her dance. But by that time, it was too late. She was damaged.
Black Swan was not only a dreary, yet solemn film about perfection. It was a lesson of what happens when we strive for perfection instead of showing soul. It can be used as a cautionary tale that those who seek perfection all the time are weak, because making mistakes and admitting them take someone who is strong and sure of oneself.
What do you think of the price of perfection? What have been your challenges with striving for this nearly impossible feat? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.