Must See: Paul Goodman Changed My Life
By Max Berlinger
Paul Goodman may not be a name that trips across many people's tongues today, but the cultural theorist and polymath was a galvanizing and controversial dissident of the mid-century who happily upset the established norm of the time. The 1960 publication of his book Growing Up Absurd attempted to label and classify the ennui and rebellion of middle-class adolescents eventually earning the reputation of being an iconic tome. Goodman's work was shocking for the time and his ideologies were challenging to those around him. As if that weren't enough, Goodman was openly bisexual and the member of a strangely modern—if not a bit clichéd—nuclear family. Though his name may have lost its resonance in contemporary culture, director Jonathan Lee has crafted a film, Paul Goodman Changed My Life, that peers deeply into the eye of the storm that lay at the contradictory core of the philosopher.
"As a young, gay man coming of age during the time of Stonewall, I'd never read anyone write so frankly and unapologetically about being queer as Goodman did," says Lee. "He did not focus one-dimensionally on sexual identity and that was very important to me because I didn't feel that being gay should limit me to only caring about gay identity and my own distinct tribe," he says.
Lee uses footage of Goodman in interview, his vast body of written work, and first-hand accounts from people with whom he shared his life to create a richly detailed account of the volatile personality and incredible mind that fearlessly and aggressively pursued a unique and candid form of truth.
Paul Goodman Changed my Life is now playing at Film Forum in Manhattan through November 1st. For more information, click here.