The Sonia Show

Writer. Mocker. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.

Downer documentaries


Yeah, so, as I’ve mentioned before, when mighty, mighty good man David travels for work it’s my time to watch downer documentaries.

David is in Amsterdam, which means our pirate friend is checking out the infamous Red Light District.


Since David’s trip is a weeklong business trip, I managed to watch two documentaries: one about breast cancer, and the other was about *cue dramatic music* muuuuurder. And yes, I’m super fun at parties.

The first documentary I watched was “Pink Ribbons, Inc.,” which is all about the commercialization of breast cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I certainly had thoughts and feelings while watching it. The documentary explores the whole culture of breast cancer and singles out organizations such as Susan G. Komen and Avon that raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research but no one really knows where the money goes in the name of research, and not enough of the money goes into funding prevention and research into possible environmental causes. I’m pretty sure I got my breast cancer because either: 1) God hates me; or 2) Equal artificial sweetener.

So, I have often cringed at all the pinkwashing that goes on. Last year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I received a flyer for a local pizza place with a pink breast cancer ribbon on it, but no where on the flyer does it say it will donate proceeds to breast cancer organizations. The pizza place just assumes I will see the ribbon, think that is awesome and order a pizza. That’s just a local pizza joint. There are big corporations that do stuff like that. Don’t even get me started on the NFL. It’s gross.

Also, I learned that the company that makes my cancer treatment drug, tamoxifen, which blocks estrogen because I had an estrogen-positive cancer, also makes a pesticide that is estrogenic. Awesome. Obviously, I’m not going to stop taking tamoxifen out of some sort of misguided protest, but that’s pretty ridiculous. There are few instances mentioned in the documentary that are even more offensive. You should watch it.

There was one thing in the documentary that made me uncomfortable. There was a segment about the community of breast cancer survivors, and how it’s not cool to refer to yourself as “cancer warrior” or say that you are “waging a war on cancer.” The documentary claims by saying things like that you are demeaning the women who died from breast cancer; like we are suggesting that “well, those women just didn’t fight hard enough.”

I have used those terms. In the description of myself for this blog I say that I kicked breast cancer’s ass. When I was going through all my various surgeries, David drew this amazing cartoon for me, in which I was some sort of Breast Cancer Superhero. It was a lovely gesture, and it touched my heart. I still look at this drawing and get teary.


Did I mean to suggest that somehow women who died of breast cancer just didn’t fight hard enough? Absolutely not! Only a huge asshole would say something like that. Do any of the women who refer to themselves as breast cancer warriors mean to insinuate that women who have died are somehow weaker? Of course not. That would be awful.Do I think I’m really some sort of “breast cancer warrior” because I don’t have cancer anymore? Not really. I think I’m lucky. I’m SO DAMN LUCKY. Every day I realize how lucky I am. Breast cancer took my left breast, and that’s all, and I’m stoked that’s all it took. Lucky = me! I don’t think for one second, “Yeah, well, women who died of breast cancer just weren’t as awesome as me.” I mean, come on, no one thinks that, right?

I’m not comfortable telling women how they are allowed to talk about the breast cancer that they are dealing with. Hell, I’m not comfortable telling ANYONE how they are allowed to talk about a disease that they are dealing with. While I was going through all my surgeries, I made a ton of jokes that I’m sure other people would say are inappropriate. I was Carrot Top but my prop was breast cancer. That’s my way of dealing with it. The way you cope with an illness is very personal, and I think if women want to refer to themselves as “cancer warriors,” and talk about how they “battled” cancer, and it’s a war and they “kicked cancer’s ass,” go for it. Whatever works for you.

OK, so, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and if you are looking to donate, Breast Cancer Action is a San Francisco-based group that seems to have their heads screwed on straight. They are behind the genius Think Before You Pink. That’s who I give my money to.

The second documentary I watched was “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” which is currently on HBO. Smart was convicted of murdering her husband – more specifically, she was convicted of getting her teenage lover to murder her husband. If you think that sounds like the plot of the Gus Van Sant movie “To Die For” with Nicole Kidman, well, that’s because that movie is based on the novel that was inspired by Pamela Smart.

Smart’s trial was one of the first televised trials, and it was a media circus. This was pre-OJ Simpson. And even though this all took place in 199-91 I hardly remember anything about it. I was too busy being 20 to concern myself with some murder trial. It is a very interesting documentary about how the lure of fame can corrupt the legal process. After watching it, I thought, “She is most likely guilty; however, she totally didn’t get fair trial.”

Luckily, I can’t really relate to the documentary about murdering your husband, so this blog post isn’t going to get much longer. “OMG! Don’t you hate it when your teenage lover confesses to the police that he killed your husband because you asked him to? Ugh. That’s the worst!”

OK, enough about my bummer documentaries: I had a delicious beer tonight. Do you like pumpkin beer? Tis the season for pumpkin beers. Tonight I had the Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin, and it’s so good (and it’s completely responsible for any typos you find in this blog post). It’s not too pumpkin-y. Even if you don’t like pumpkin beer, you might like it. It’s not overpowering.


Also, David gets home tomorrow, and The Kid and I snapped a little “let’s make funny faces, because it’s our last night with just the two of us” selfie.



Author: The Sonia Show

I'm a writer/podcaster/mother/goober in San Francisco who likes to drink beer, shop, laugh and make other people laugh, watch old movies, feed my unhealthy obsession with pop culture, kick breast cancer's ass, go on adventures with my mighty, mighty good man David and my awesome autistic son, Calvin, wear orange and root for the San Francisco Giants, participate in general jackass-ery, talk about TV, eavesdrop on strangers' conversations, make nerdy “Star Wars” and “Simpsons” references, and post personal things about myself on the web for all to read, which makes me some sort of literary exhibitionist.

3 thoughts on “Downer documentaries

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