“That’s what dads do…they pass the best of themselves to their kids.” — Steve Gleason, the ALS-afflicted former football player, speaking in Clay Tweel‘s Gleason.

Actually, not quite. Good or well-meaning fathers try to pass along the best of themselves to their children, of course, but dads mainly influence their kids by example (hugs, gifts, scoldings and advice don’t count nearly as much as what the kid notices about your day-to-day behavior and particularly your responses to this or that challenge) and through their genes. The origin of Gleason’s condition, for example, may have come from his parents as roughly 5% to 10% of ALS cases are genetically inherited.

You can be completely loved with the wind at your back as you begin to make your way in life, and you can still get swatted like a fly. God routinely hands out random, tough-shit fates to the nicest people. Life is a crap shoot. The best people sometimes buy it by accident (poor Anton Yelchin) and other good ones live long, mostly happy lives, and some not-so-good ones live happily and high on the hog until well into old age. It’s a garden out there but also a slaughterhouse, depending on the breaks.

Bottom line: I don’t like “surviving through terrible adversity with dignity and spirit” documentaries as a rule. Yes, they’re “inspirational” but I wouldn’t watch Gleason with Scott Foundas holding a knife at my back. There are thousands of people coping with lives made gruesome by fate or biology or whatever. What about a documentary about a family trying to survive the carnage in Syria with spirit and dignity? It might be emotionally affecting but do I want to see it? I’ll sit through a film about sadness, tragedy and emotional ache if it’s well made (i.e., Manchester by the Sea) but a film about a shitty deal that can only get worse? Later.