I recently had the opportunity to see The Shining on the big screen and let me tell you, what a cinematic achievement! Though, some part of me, could not help but think, “What if I had been in this movie?” If I had, it would have been pretty different.1
Now, first things first, when the owners of the hotel told me that there would be no alcohol in the place, I would have shrugged and said, “No problem,” since I would have brought a grocery bag full of marijuana with me. I also would not have taken the job nearly as seriously as Jack Nicholson. Hiding behind the pretext of professional responsibility as a reason for killing your family doesn’t seem like something I could get into. If a ghost in a bathroom told me that I was the eternal caretaker of the hotel, I would have said, “Thanks but no thanks,” and then probably laid off the grocery weed for a couple days.2
This is a great time to make it totally clear that I never would have attempted to murder my wife and kid. I would have just failed to write that novel. It probably would have been a fantasy novel as I have a great love for wizards. When my wife came to peak at my typewriter, she would not have found page after page of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” but instead florid descriptions of elderly magi investigating quarrelsome problems of magic and metaphysics. She would have shaken her head as if to say, “That’s my big dreamer,” and returned to playing with our child in the snow.3
Also, had I been Shelley Duvall, I probably wouldn’t have gone into the mountains with a man who had dislocated my son’s arm four months prior. No, I believe I would have gotten a divorce. Some may disagree with my choices, but that’s just the kind of independent woman I imagine I would be.
Now, if I were Scatman Crothers, the cook who returns to save Shelley Duvall and her son only to be murdered by Jack Nicholson, I think I would have declined to come back. I would have probably stayed in Florida and just let that bad feeling sit, and then later, when reports of the murder-suicide surfaced, I would have taken satisfaction in knowing I had been right. This is because A) I am a lazy coward and B) if I were black, I do not think traveling thousands of miles to save a white woman and her child would very much interest me.
Had I been Jack Nicholson’s son, I would have listened more to my imaginary friend Tony. And had I been Tony, I would have told that kid to make it with those twins.
As we established earlier, if I were Jack Nicholson, I never would have tried to kill my family… but if I had, you can bet I would have succeeded. I simply would have locked them out of the hotel and let them freeze to death or, if I really wanted to be thorough, I would have waited for them to fall asleep and gotten them with that axe. This is because, unlike Jack Nicholson’s character, I am not an idiot.
1Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Actors can’t re-write movies,” but you have obviously never heard of dramatic choices. A dramatic choice is where an actor decides he could have written the movie better and so he decides to ignore the script. Since directors cannot literally operate actors like puppets, they are powerless to stop rebellious actors from making dramatic choices.
2Much of the Shining can be understood as an allegory of the increasing irrelevance of men in general. The 1970s was an era in which manufacturing, and other traditionally masculine occupations, were beginning to disappear in the United States due to automation and outsourcing. Meanwhile, the character of Jack Torrance, is a failure as a father, provider, and artist. He continually puts himself before his family and he has no contribution to make as a novelist. As he feels his place in the world slipping away, he cloaks himself more and more in the rather flimsy status of “Hotel Caretaker” despite the fact that his wife actually takes over the majority of the work keeping up the hotel. As control over his own destiny disappears, Jack instead becomes a petty tyrant and attempts to exert control over his wife and child. When that also proves difficult, he attempts to exert the ultimate act of control by murdering them.
3If I had a child it would not have been a boy, but instead a girl that I would have named “Miles” after myself.
The Higgs Weldon is an online humor magazine with funny articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was founded in the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!