Keeping an open mind

3 03 2008

PlugsMany movies based on books come out each year. However, few and far between ever achieve recognition for actually improving upon the original. And regardless, there will always be many who prefer the book versions for a multitude of reasons.

Terabithia

This year, some of the best movies were based on books, among them Best Picture Oscar nominees, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, and No Country For Old Men. However, I would like to endorse a less acclaimed movie from 2007: Bridge to Terabithia.

Walden Media has gone from an unknown to prominent film production company since its inception in 2002, helping to create more mature and sophisticated movies in a family genre that has been riddled with horrid slapstick comedies and poorly-acted wastes of time and money. Among Walden Media’s films are the acclaimed books-to-movies, Holes and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While they aren’t all perfect or even extraordinary, Walden Media’ films have at least made the choice to produce meaningful tales as opposed to garbage.

I believe the movie version of Bridge to Terabithia conveys all the meaning of the book and then some. The original trailers for the movie were awful and misleading, causing some to believe that the beloved book had been turned into another sloppy kids movie. Why they chose the tactic they did I’ll never know. Fortunately, the movie plays nothing like the previews did, and the heart of the book is left intact.

This blog has always been about viewing the world differently, about not taking things for granted, and about creating one’s own identity. Somehow, I managed to find a movie that combines many of my beliefs into one. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the production values were less than perfect, and some of the soundtrack was a bit awkward, but the message got through more successfully than in some of the best movies I’ve seen.

This movie was clearly directed towards children, as was the book, but the idea of keeping an open mind and utilizing your imagination is often much more effective directed at an older age group. That’s why this movie makes a perfect family film. Too often people forget as they’re growing up what it’s like to dream. They’ve already accepted reality and whatever life seems to be laying directly in front of them. Those are the people who should watch this film.

By the way, I think AnnaSophia Robb made a fantastic Leslie Burke. It’s not an easy task to create someone that leaves such an impact near the movie’s end.

Keep an open mind. Find beauty even in the things you don’t believe. And for the love of all, we should invite Leslie next time. She’d like that.





The Race Card

17 02 2008

FeaturesI first saw Richard Thompson on The Colbert Report of all places. He was interviewed recently for his latest book, The Race Card, which deals with accusations of racism where there either is none or is not reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that racism is involved. For more information on the book, visit the New York Times book review.

The ideas offered by Richard Thompson reminded me of an incident several months ago that provoked a similar response from me. At Miami University in Ohio, an art student placed seven nooses in a tree above a tire swing in such a way that the nooses could only be clearly seen from the swing. It was meant to juxtapose life and death. It had been previously accepted by the art department and was to be on display for less than twenty four hours very near the art department’s building. However, by the end of the day, police had turned the area into a crime scene, the officials at the university were considering what penalties should be handed to the students involved, and the news across the U.S. was depicting the completely innocent students as racially insensitive.

noose

Interviews with students yielded commentaries on the events:

“I feel really disappointed because I’m a minority here, also, and this action shouldn’t be on campus,” said Weiying Wang, who is from China.

“Especially on a campus that’s dominated by white people and it’s only a few black people,” said Nick Winbush. “It’s probably only three-percent black people. I don’t think it’s acceptable.”

“Anytime you see something like that, you think of all the lynchings that were done,” said Towns, who saw the display before it was removed. “For anyone who is black, it depicts a time that you don’t want to relive.”

I argue that all these people are being completely unfair, if not absurd. First of all, this was done only days after Halloween; the atmosphere of Halloween should have been enough to take the ropes seriously.

Second, we know that the project was not racially motivated. If it was racially insensitive, and I insist that it wasn’t, it still was not a hate crime. The students should not be punished for society’s faults, for seeing too much good in people. I can’t imagine how I would feel to have to stop and consider the racial consequences of my every action. That isn’t to say I don’t try to act in a most respectful manner toward all people. I just don’t make an extra effort for some people based on the color of their skin or the nation of their heritage.

Third, nooses do not symbolize lynchings of black people. They symbolize death (as was their purpose in the art project). They have been used for thousands of years on people of every race in most every country. They have been used on people of every race and nationality within the U.S. itself. Furthermore, they have not been used in the recent past in the U.S. for much other than suicides. Minorities who suggest that nooses are racially insensitive are being racially insensitive. They are thrusting aside the deaths of millions of people and telling the world to focus solely on their struggles, and if not theirs, then their parents’ or grandparents’ struggles.

Many minorities cry that racism hasn’t gone away. Perhaps at some point they should look at themselves and ask why they aren’t letting it go away.

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t many real racism problems in the U.S. On the contrary, there is still a lot of work to be done. I’m simply suggesting that as long as minorities insist on others’ racist motives when there simply is no evidence to suggest them, racism can’t and won’t go away.

If I saw a noose hanging from a tree on campus, I would be probably be a bit concerned. I might wonder what is going on and what its reason for being there could possibly be. However, I would not immediately consider the possibility that it was created as an insult to minorities. There simply isn’t enough evidence to suggest that. If death by the noose is racially insensitive, then why the heck am I just as scared by the thought of be hanged as anyone else? Death is not simply black or white.

For further reading on this issue, please visit the following sites:
Everything isn’t about race
Academics’ artistic freedom only protects left wing provocateurs





You can’t buy love, but you can sell it

30 01 2008

NewsAn extremely disturbing case of attempted murder in London was unveiled to the public recently. A 28-year-old homemaker plotted, with the help of friends and neighbors, to poison her husband on their anniversary. The poison of choice: anti-freeze. What could drive someone to even dream of such a barbaric act? Money, of course.

The wife had built up considerable debt, unbeknownst to her husband, and planned to use the payout from her deceased husband’s employer to help pay it off. The notion that a woman could “sell” her husband’s life is beyond comprehension in this day and age, especially in a city like London. The consideration that people knew she was going to follow through with the plan and didn’t consider stopping her is equally difficult to believe. One step backward for the human race, I’d say.

Her husband miraculously survived the poisoning, but it’s too soon to say whether or not he will wish he had died. He is presently deaf and blind with permanent kidney damage and an unknown amount brain damage. May God help him make it through this horrific ordeal.





Heath Ledger: The shattering of reality

23 01 2008
Heath Ledger

NewsEvery person lives inside of a thin glass bubble we could call our sense of reality. Inside, we hold the things that make up who we are: the people we love most and the memories we have of them. Things happen outside the bubble all the time – people kill, earthquakes occur, rainforests are destroyed – but none of it really shocks us, because it doesn’t affect us and our sense of reality. We are content in knowing that this sense of reality is foolproof, and the bubble is safe from the outside world.

Sometimes we subconsciously let other people into our bubbles: people who write books we love, people who create music that inspires us, people who act in memorable movies. We accept that the books, the music, the movies will always continue coming because, without them, we are not the same. Without the things in our bubbles, we have to alter our expectations, our anticipation, our sense of hope.

I don’t know when or why it happened, but Heath Ledger had entered my impenetrable bubble.

He was not supposed to die.

But now it’s too late; the glass has been shattered. I’ll pick up the pieces just like the last time, because that is what is required of us. We must live with the hope that everything we need and everyone we know will always be there for us, even when we know they won’t, because otherwise we could never be happy and free. Any person who lives with complete recognition of the pain, suffering, and injustice in the world must truly live in Hell.

News Links:
CNN.com
BBC News
hollywoodrag.com

Horrific Links:
jossip.com
bestweekever.tv
bestweekever.tv (part 2)