Upon reading the play “True West” by Sam Shepard, I was quickly reminded of the difficulties that many families have faced, the tried and true “family curse”. In the story the two brothers, Lee and Austin, are struggling with their own curse. Their father struggled with alcoholism. In short, the youngest brother, Austin, is the perfect idea of the “American Dream”. He has a wife and two children, the fancy college degree, and he is working on his big break into the film industry. On the other hand, you have Lee, who is the older of the two and has never really had much going for him. He is a rough around the edges, uneducated, wild child of the family. The curse of their family, to me, seemed that once things turned south they would give up and turn to the bottle. As soon as Austin’s big break is in site, his brother steals the show, ruining Austin’s last chance for success in the movie industry. Throughout the play, you can see the two are attempting to break the mold that their ancestors have fallen imprisoned by. Austin attempts to be the good guy and do the right thing by helping his brother complete his story, but, cannot seem to follow through. Instead however, Austin becomes a hostage of his family curse and turns to the bottle.
When thinking of a “family curse”, one movie in particular comes to mind, Rumor Has It. The movie is about a woman named Sarah Huttinger, who believes her family has been cursed after she sleeps with a man named Beau Burroughs. Prior to Sarah and Beau’s “engagement”, Sarah discovers the horrifying truth, which Beau had slept with not only herself, but also her mother and grandmother. Throughout the movie, the young woman begins to find out details about Beau and his past lovers. She believes he might be her father. After several frantic phone calls and research, she finds out that he is not, in fact, her father, but merely a scandalous old man. Rumor Has It is yet another example similar to the brothers of “True West” that family curses truly exist.
Above is a video trailer of Rumor Has It.
My last example of the existence of the family curse is my own. If not for my own experiences, I would have trouble believing such thing actually existed. As far back on my mother’s side as I can recall, every woman has been divorced and unhappily remarried. I have feared for many years that this will one day be my fate. My life will become who gets the house and who gets the dog. Now, my sisters and I are upon the age to marry, with my oldest sister already being wed. This family curse has hopefully run its course and will end with my mother, whom I might add, is also unhappily remarried.
Above is a family picture we took at Thanksgiving. Notice there is no “father” in the picture..
As seen in the play, Rumor Has It, and right here in my own family “family curses” are a real and factual predicament.