The question arose one night during a dinner conversation with friends: What are your three most watched television channels? I mulled over my viewing habits and finally came up with the History Channel, ESPN, and the Discovery Channel. When asked why I liked the Discovery Channel, I responded that I was intrigued by their coverage of bizarre human conditions.
Anyone who watches the Discovery Channel knows that a large chunk of their programming focuses on strange genetic disorders and the people who are afflicted with them. In any given week you could see a show about a woman with gigantic legs, a man whose entire body is covered in bark-like growths, or conjoined twins who have been fused at the head for 40 years. The episodes are intriguing not only for the science, but also for the psychology of the people involved.
No empathetic person could watch one of these shows and not feel great sympathy for the featured individuals. And yet sympathy is what they generally detest the most. While I have a hard time being seen in public with a bad haircut, these people revel in the challenge and even look forward to educating society about their afflictions. The bottom line is that any time you think your life isn't going well, imagine being covered from head to toe with bark-like warts. Your existence suddenly looks pretty good comparatively.
Not surprisingly, the Discovery Channel popped into my head after seeing this week's feature, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." During this film you'll meet an odd human being, a young man afflicted with a strange yet intriguing genetic disorder that forces his life down a remarkable road.
Brad Pitt stars as Benjamin Button and gives a performance certainly worthy of Oscar nomination consideration. The role required not only great emotional range, but also immense patience as he was forced to sit through hours of make-up for the various incarnations of his character. Admittedly, few actors could have traversed the chronological timeframe needed to make this film work.