The Wisdom of Pinhead: Part One
“You better watch out; you better not cry. You’d better not pout …”*
Last year for Christmas, I blogged about my favourite part of Hellraiser V: Inferno. I talked about how Pinhead’s dark, scary message was really a cautionary Christmas tale – avoid superficiality and selfishness and embrace what really matters, or, you know, pay horribly forever. I realized afterward that Pinhead has always had some very Christmas-y things to say … when seen in the right light. So this year, I will be presenting a Pinhead-Christmas-personal empowerment-happy-joy-countdown. At the end of it, I hope readers – Christian and non-Christian alike – are more disposed to find the love and joy the Christmas holiday represents.
And maybe they’ll want to watch the movies too.
Let’s start with his most popular quote, from the original Hellraiser:
“No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering.”
Tears are important; they let us process complex emotions, both positive and negative. They purge toxins, and help us feel re-set. They communicate our empathy to others, and our sadness, and our joy. Especially at Christmas time, we’re all teary-eyed at the barrage of poignant Hallmark commercials, that coffee ad where Peter comes home from college and surprises his family, the trip-through-emotion called “The Red Shoes”. Tears are the great social equalizer – everyone cries, no matter their gender, their creed, their nationality, their colour, their age – and when we cry collectively, it represents our connection to every other person on the planet.
The problem is that so many of us use tears to manipulate. Some of us cry to get a better grade on a school paper, or to frame a kid we don’t like by saying he “hurt” us on the playground. Maybe we cry to forestall discussion about something unpleasant, or to cover up our culpability by making ourselves seem like the injured party. We cry for pity, so that we won’t have to face the consequences of our actions, even – or perhaps especially – when they were deliberate actions the results of which we knew perfectly well beforehand.
We also manipulate ourselves with our tears. We tell ourselves that our fate is dire, that we need to get all this pain out and off our chests, that a problem shared is a problem halved. But when it comes time to return the favour, so many of us are not able to do it. We don’t want others to poison us with their “toxic” negativity, we don’t want others to feel pain over things that we don’t think should bother them, we feel burdened doubly by their sharing of their misery … but we are proud of our own misery, and cry out triumphantly: “See how much I have suffered!”
Don’t get me wrong. Many (most/all) of us have genuinely suffered, and to bury it would be a mistake; the things that plague us should be pulled out in the open, told to whomever is qualified to help us deal with them, and then … dealt with. Even if it takes the whole of our lives, the goal of our sharing our pain should be to find a way to let it go. If we have suffered, then let us learn from it, or work to make a better world, or reach out to another who is suffering too. If we cry, let our tears be honest. If others cry, let us see ourselves in them.
* “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” by Coots and Gillespie