Work, Play, and Worship in "Whose Life Is It Anyway?"

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In the film Whose Life Is It Anyway? we are introduced to the character of Ken. Ken's life is changed after a life-altering car accident leaves him a quadriplegic. Ken, being unable to live the life he is accustomed asks to be released from the hospital and refuses medical treatment. Throughout this paper I will delve into the roles that work, play, and worship played in Ken's life both pre-accident and post-accident. The roles of work, play, and worship will also tie in with Ken's personal freedom, on how active Ken appears to be, and on the responsibilities Ken takes on day to day. While Ken is an interesting figure who seems to have his priorities in line both before and after his accident, there is very little effort to adapt to his new life which, in turn, comes into conflict with the way Ken sees leisure in his life.

Freedom played an extremely important role in Ken's life. Joblin states that he sees leisure as free experience, believing that "leisure initially (is) an attitude or state of mind that people can experience not only in an immediate moment or activity but also in all of time and all of life's activities," (Joblin 9). Ken can also be seen as a "free experience" believer. Prior to his accident, Ken is free to work, as seen by his teaching of classes at the school. He is also free to play, being able to run and laugh with his significant other, Patty, and is able to worship through his sculptures. It is important to note that Ken's sculpting is not only worship to him, rather it can be seen as work and play as well, as it is taken seriously yet still is an enjoyable aspect of Ken's life. However, after Ken's accident he seems to have lost the ability to enjoy work, play, and worship as he once knew it. Ken is unable to move, those losing the ability to draw and sculpt, which were a major part of his day to day work, play and worship. Also, as part of play and worship, sexual relations had become all but impossible for Ken with the that tormenting him rather than thrilling. Despite these setbacks, Ken is given several chances to regain some freedoms, such as the offer of a reading machine and learning to write again, as well as being able to transport for himself via an electric wheelchair. Yet, Ken is unable to see these opportunities, rather as hindrances. Ken is unable to be amongst loved ones, namely Patty, as he is unable (in his mind) to relive any of his memories as new experiences and is driven to sadness and torment knowing that he cannot love and provide as he once had. Ken's worship of Patty is one aspect of freedom which, if Ken cannot have as he would have pre-accident, does not want. In Ken's mind the only chance at freedom that is left for his life would be the freedom of being released from the hospital, left to die on his own terms; however, with such freedom, leisure is nearly impossible. Allowing himself to die, Ken is unable to enjoy his work, play, or worship, and being unable to enjoy those leads to a lack of leisure in one's life. Ken is more likely to die depressed and scared with a lack of leisure in the forms of work, play, worship. In his book The Pursuit Of Happiness, Myers states that "realizing that well-being is something other than being well-off is liberating," (Myers 46). While Myers uses this quote in relation to wealth & happiness, it is still possible to relate to Ken. If Ken were able to realize that although things are not what they once were, it is unnecessary to have everything he once had in order to be happy. If Ken were to realize that he is free to find other forms of happiness, other forms of work, play, and worship, and other forms of day to day living, Ken may still be able to live a rich, full life. While Ken sees a loss of freedom in his life, from the inability to use his less, the inability to love physically, or the inability to resist treatment forced onto him by the medical staff, Ken is also unable to see other freedoms that...
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