Nothing Important Happened Today – directed, written, and edited by Frank Yang
A child walks in on his grandfather while he is “working out” his penis with a TV monitor. This film illustrates the external and internal influences along with the effects this particular circumstance has on him and the man that will come to be. The initial reaction from the child is anger and frustration, as he takes out his anxieties on the material world and his environment by destroying every object in sight.
The entropic demolition is followed by an intense episode of seizures because the memories that are repressed in his body lone and struggle for escape. The effects upon witnessing his grandfather’s obscene gesture then manifest themselves in an obscure pregnancy as he becomes impregnated with the future older version of himself based on the Freudian theory, “the child is the father to the man”. This experience has caused the child to be impregnated with the future and to metaphorically give birth to an older version of himself who is a mutated monster that is both mute and paralyzed. The loss of speech and the paralysis are physical expressions and manifestations of his current neurotic symptoms. Apparently, the kid had suppressed what he really felt about the experiences of his life thus far: alienation from his family and the world while dealing with the fright and inability to speak to anybody who would truly understand his unique situation. The loss of speech therefore, symbolizes the fact that the boy was unable to “swallow” this traumatic experience; eventually regressing back to the oral phase in Freudian theory where the libido is focused on the mouth. The peculiar paralysis of the legs symbolizes the fact that he cannot go on anymore with his life until his hysteria – the neurotic symptoms are cured.
After giving birth, the child wraps a dog chain around the neck of his older self because in a way, his older version is still trapped and chained within the trauma of his childhood memories. The child takes the chain and guides him through a journey to the infantile and primal love of the mother in order to find the love and care where he might finally be able to express his true feelings for her and confess to her what he had experienced (in a way, he feels guilty by the fact that he saw another man’s penis when he was supposed to be in love with the mother, and he wants to confess this guilt to her).
The mother is depicted in this film as a cross-dresser because I wanted to express Jung’s idea of anima and animus – the concept of that our true inner self of an individual (as opposed to the persona or outer aspect of the personality) finds expression in the opposite sex. In this case, the unconscious of the female (the mother), is expressed as a masculine outer personality: the animus. This can be identified as the totality of the unconscious masculine psychological qualities that a female possesses. In other words, there is a feminine side to every male, and a masculine side in every female. What triggered the masculine characteristics in the mother in this film is the love, desire, needs and the loss of the child. Due to the absence of the father figure in this film and family portrait, the mother feels the need to activate and express her masculine side in order to partially take on the role of the patriarchal figure in order to fully take care of, love, and mollify the child who is in dire need of a cure, love and care.
The mother uses her vomit to “cure” the older self’s mute symptoms the way a mother uses her body (breast milk, warmth and comfort) to nurture and comfort a baby. When the man-child has finally returned to his primal love while he is being comforted and healed, he is able to finally express himself in words by telling the mother what had happened. (This is why the film now has sound. The perceptual window is now widened for both the character and the audience). The man then reverts back to a child because our childhood memories/experiences will always be a part of us. Deep down inside, we will always be little boys that want to be nurtured by our mothers. And throughout our adult lives, we continue to be in search of mates that resemble our mothers (our first love). In a way, we should feel sad for the child because he never grew up or moved on from the experience, and that he was merely carrying around the imaginary and metaphysical body of a grown man who he was not ready to grown into. As long as his mother nurtured him at the end, he knew that the best way to win over her love is to remain a child that she can take care of and look after.