The Soft Answer

Verbal T'ai Chi for sociable self-defense


Dalton Trumbo and Hedda Hopper

The recent movie Trumbo, about the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, is a symphony of Soft Answer material, both vicious, deliberate attacks (mostly coming from Hedda Hopper) and mindful low drama Soft Answer responses (mostly from Trumbo, but also from the Kirk Douglas character).

See bullying at its worst, as Hopper threatens and intimidates the wealthy and powerful and brings them to their knees. Witness Trumbo stay grounded and emotionally neutral, even when a drink is thrown in his face. Listen to him stand up to
John Wayne when Wayne tries to intimidate him, then calmly level with him. Take note of instances when Trumbo engages compassionate detachment and leaves space for an aggressor to have a gracious way out.

The film Trumbo is also, delightfully, about family, both functional and dysfunctional. The Trumbo family works together, as do the blacklisted writers, persevering through one of the most regrettable times in our country's history, when our national family was a model of dysfunction.

Hollywood bio-pics can never be perfectly accurate, and certain decisions in the making of the movie were ill-advised (such as portraying
Edward G Robinson as naming names to the House Un-American Activities Committee, which he did not). But Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis CK and others give wonderful performances, and I'm recommending that you see it twice. First, just for its entertainment value, and the second time, as a Soft Answer study.