Connection as Theme
Within the plethora of trashy, hedonistic and often meaningless media, occasionally arises something that makes us pause and think. That is a connection. And they are sadly rare in our contemporary media culture.
Two series recently caught our attention, and we connected to both. “Sense8” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” both speak strongly to the concept of connection, and they do it from vastly different perspectives.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The version to which I refer here is on Hulu as a serialization of the novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. The story is set in a dystopian near-future in which a totalitarian, cisgender, christian theonomy has overthrown the US government. Told from the perspective of Offred, (Elisabeth Moss) a “handmaid” by virtue of her reproductive ability in a society made largely infertile by pollution and disease, this story connects us to our worst fears regarding the resurgence of fanatical religious right-wing political elements in our very real present world.
Connection, for Offred, comes in several forms, from her overtly Stockholm Syndrome-ish connection to her commander’s wife, her tenuous connection with her peers, always fearful of betrayal, to her covert messages to an unseen co-conspirator, courageously scratched on the dark, hidden inside wall of a closet in her room. Those scratched messages are left there, like a message in a bottle, for the next person in her situation, to offer hope in a possible connection. Trust, in this story, is a shadowy optimism of connection, at least as far as we’ve watched into the series.
This story seems to illustrate how important our connections are as humans. When strong connections are not available, the thinnest thread of connection serves to keep us wedded to ourselves, our humanity, our hopes, and to the motivation to persevere.
The title of this created-for-web television series is a play on the word “sensate”, which means to perceive things by one or more of the senses, or the ability to sense something physically. Sensing physically is a strong theme in this Netflix series, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski for Netflix. The connection is strong between a group of 8 people, called a “cluster” in the series, separated geographically yet connected, somehow telepathically, by shared experiences. At first random but growing more frequent as trust develops between the 8 people sharing experiences, they begin by channeling various talents of other individuals in the group. The slight, yet powerful Korean woman Sun (Bae Doona) “loans” her martial-arts expertise to the African bus driver Capheus (Aml Ameen) when he is attacked. The confused Cop infuses the abused-by-the-system trans-gender female in his group with his lock-picking abilities to allow her to escape a mad doctor in a mental institution.
The theme of physical connection despite distance in Sense8 elaborates on the expression of connections through time established in Cloud Atlas, also by the Wachowskis.
I was not surprised, yet very pleased to see jewelry once again used to convey symbolism in the series Sense8. The character Amanita (Freema Agyeman) wears a large pair of hoop earrings that remotely resemble both the symbol for anarchy and/or an A and an O, perhaps meaning All One.
Sense8 seems to be as hopeful for humanity as The Handmaid’s Tale is ominous and yet both treat connection as one of the most important elements of humanity. We celebrate and honor connection in just about every project we do here at Gary Dawson Designs. Creating heirloom quality items in precious metal and gemstones, we are humbled by our responsibility in helping people to honor their connections with the people that they love and respect, and the important events that they share. We often re-purpose or recycle either metals or gemstones that have a long, rich, family tradition, and in so doing find our work transcending both time and form as the old becomes the new in loving transformations.
We look forward to working with you! Let’s connect soon.