Attention, Social Services — I am a bad parent.
A bit of backstory: My friend Rick Alverson's latest film, New Jerusalem , recently had its world premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam film festival in January. The movie stars Will Oldham, a famed alt-rock musician who performs under aliases that include Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the Palace Brothers. Will asked Rick to film a music video for his song "New Wonder," which happened in Rick's Church Hill home.
Rick decided to go for a slow, contemplative and mildly exploitative feel by setting Will's music to an old-fashioned wake for a young, tragically Victorian-looking girl mourned by skinny-tied hipsters.
This is where my parenting skills come in — and into question.
Rick needed a dead girl. I lent him one of my live daughters.
Dozens of Rick's other friends were cast to play the hipsters, and some were pretty disturbed by the whole dead-baby thing.
"It was appalling," says Antonia Vassar, one of the "mourners."
"I don't think you're a bad parent," she has since assured me but adds,
"If it was my child, I don't think I could have done that. I think it would have felt devastating."
I didn't. Further indicting my overall fitness as a parent, neither did my 7-year-old. We laughed, we ate vegan hors d'oeuvres between takes, and she came home with a massive bouquet of flowers.
In her words, as I enforced her regular 8 p.m. bedtime: "It was awesome."