Intermission.

I am just writing this post to inform all my readers that I won’t be posting for a few weeks. Check your emails at the end of the month for more material, but for now I’m on a hiatus.

Hey, everyone needs a break.

Until then–Natasha

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Wins vs Sins–2

So continuing from part one…

You all know the last thing I would be telling anyone to do is not question their entertainment. So, when I mentioned being receptive, that’s not what I mean.

Let’s look at the hard facts.

The love of money is the root of all evil…in the movie industry. Every time you see a bad movie, just remember, they made it to make money.

I really hope there are some screenwriters left who are in it for the good of mankind. But I wonder if there are any studios left of that sort.

Even assuming there are, it can’t be denied most of them just want to compete with blockbuster successes, and movies are only grossing more and more millions or even billions of dollars as time and inflation take effect.

That being said, it’s not a stretch to think that a lot of bad messages in entertainment are being shoved down our throats because they sell. Because dumb or immoral people will care a lot less about content. Making it easier to make movies and shows that are successes for no apparent reason, therefore making more money. So the cycle goes.

It’s not really paranoid to think this, it’s getting all too blatant.

And often the whole diversity and culture representation thing is thrown in just to get cheap points from certain demographics. (And I don’t mean the ethnicity themselves, but movie watcher demographics.)

Like Disney is criticized for having predominantly white protagonists.

The people who make those criticisms are ignoring the fact that Disney started off as a vehicle for retelling and bringing to life all the old fairy tales and stories people already loved. Which were, like it or not, mostly from European cultures. Because that’s what America started as, a land with European settlers. Complain all you like about the poor Native American representation in Peter Pan. But it is based off a book that literally has Indians in it just because kids liked imagining them. It’s not supposed to be accurate. (Also Walt Disney started making films at a time when certain ethnicity weren’t in movie entertainment all that much, so it’s not like he had much talent of that sort to choose from.)

This is one example of nitpicking that is harmful. What child really cares all that much about their culture being accurately represented?

I mean, let’s explore that: I am of mostly European descent. Should I get mad that my people are represented as singing with birds, living in the woods with no apparent contact with the outside world, and falling for the tricks of wicked witches every single time? (Come to think of it, two out of three of those sounds a lot like homeschooling.)

It’s not like old Disney films really make Europeans look smart, or even brave. A lot of them make us look silly for comic relief.

It would be like taking the court scene in Alice in Wonderland as meant to seriously represent the Law in the real world. No one would do that.

Or the tea party as meant to be actual tea etiquette.

Where’s the outrage here?

Another good reason black or Hispanic characters don’t appear in these movies is because they do not appear in the stories. The reason is, these stories, like Peter Pan or Alice’s, were written by Englishmen for English children. Children who would relate to English culture.

It’s not the story’s fault that its been brought to America with its melting pot of ethnicity.

And as far as more recent films go, the same rule applies to Tangled (German) and Frozen (Danish/Norwegian.) To realistically put black characters in there would be to make them servants. Who wants that message?

Okay, okay, so I’m over-defending Disney. But I could say the same about other franchises too. The poor writers who want to stick to the comic book, or historical, accuracy have a hard time because history is what it is; and comics were, again, written to promote American ideals.

(It would be a whole other discussion to wonder if that’s why people are coming down on them so much.)

To sum all that up, including a black or Latino character is not a virtue and omitting them is not a sin, unless it is ignoring a historical reality.

Before I end this, let’s talk about plots.

Even if you make it through the larbrithn of political correctness and good editing, people will be brutal to your plot.

There are three types of people where plot is concerned.

  1. Those who miss the point of it entirely.
  2.  Those who hate the point completely.
  3.  Those who try to make the point fit whatever their worldview is and ignore the goal of the story.

Most of us are one of these three at any given time. Even I fall into the third category a lot.

Missing the point can just be a fluke, people can just not comprehend the artistic style.

Often though it’s because they weren’t looking for a point at all. And I question if some popular franchise are even trying that hard to make one anymore.

But the second category is probably the most rare, but it’s also important.

When folks hate what you are doing, you are either right, or you are very wrong. There’s not really a middle ground.

The trouble is, when we are picking apart a plot because it wasn’t well paced, or it wasn’t progressive enough, or it was too cliche, we are missing the real point of storytelling.

Which is to show us stuff we can’t normally see.

Yes, an old tale retold is monotonous after awhile. But it is still important.

There are only so many good messages out there. That’s why in the effort to be new and different, books and movies have gone off into the dark, gritty, and uncertain territory.

Because picking a moral right or a moral wrong leaves you with only a few options.

The purpose of new stories is to reiterate the truth in a different way that will make sense to different people.

Truth however, doesn’t change.

Lies change, that is, they morph over time to disguise themselves so that we will keep being taken in.

Truth doesn’t need to do that. It stands on its own.

That’s why a movie like Frozen will break the glass ceiling, even though it falls into a lot of what we would call cliches. It has truth.

And it’s why a movie like Age of Ultron will never be that kind of success, though it had good actors, amazing special effects, and a new-ish plot. There’s no truth in it.

As much as people will argue now that truth is irrelevant to movies; the statistics will speak for themselves. The human mind is attracted to truth, to absolutes, to real meaning.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

Bear the pain without breaking.

Let me return to the past post today so that you may read it in the future.

Too much?

Sorry.

Anyway, I want to write about an interesting part of the X-men movie I mentioned in my previous post.

It’s when Old Charles tells Young Charles that “It is the greatest gift we have, to bear their (humanity’s) pain without breaking.”

I got to thinking about this idea. I’ve been rereading another old favorite book of mine, Rilla of Ingleside (the final Anne of Green Gables book.) Montgomery knew how to get emotion out of her readers. This book is one exhausting trip through WWI, but worth reading.

The people in this story perhaps feel the pain of the world too much. I get that the wars were terrible and people had a lot of strain, but I find it hard to believe it was quite as constant and terrorizing as this story portrays.

Not to disrespect what they suffered, I just think humanity naturally adapts and pushes away grim realities in order not to go insane.

But anyway, this book will make you feel the terrible things of war, and the grief and endurance also.

Also it draws together all the many types of people in that world. The imaginative and the dull; the clever and the simple; the devout and the reprobate; all of them are raised to a new level of importance. And the barriers between some of them are broken down.

Shared suffering can do more to make peace between individuals than any amount of good events would. Because people are stubborn, and pain tends to be the only thing that breaks us down.

How does this tie in to X-men of all things?

I mentioned before that Magneto is selfish, whereas Charles is selfless. And I also mentioned that Magneto’s selfishness lies in his ignorance of other people’s suffering.

Somewhere along the line, Charles decided to feel other people’s pain, and Erik decided to bar himself from it.

My question is, how many of us do the same thing?

It’s not hard for me to imagine how other people feel, I can put myself in their place. What is hard is wanting to, especially when it affects me personally.

We never want to be wrong after all.

Then again, some of us would rather be constantly apologizing for no clear wrongdoing than standing up for ourselves or others.

So maybe there’s no cut and dried human way of dealing with blame. But there are pretty basic ways of dealing with pain.

There is so much suffering out there now, one really couldn’t feel all of it deeply. At least, that’s what I’ve thought.

It doesn’t do to dwell on it.

Besides I know too many people who have broken under it, or if not broken, at least bent.

Bearing pain without breaking takes more strength than I have. The only way I can handle it it to lean on God.

I know there are some who might find that a cliche, easy way out sort of answer.

Or even wimpy. Like I’m not tough enough to bear pain  like other people so I need to imagine someone out there who can help me.

My personal opinion is that nayone who thinks they can bear the wieght of the world without breaking is deluded.

To me it would be far worse to think that pain and sin are just things we have to live with, and there is no escaping it.

There had better be an escape. Otherwise, why are we living at all?

Isn’t that what Charles concludes? destruction isn’t the course humanity has to take, only the course it tends to take because of the cruel acts people do against each other.

And Magneto’s selfishness feeds those acts. While the selflessness of the X-men is what finally turns the tide.

That’s all for now,until next time–Natasha.

P. S. (my rule is no posting on Sunday’s but I’m making an exception because this was mostly written days ago and I kept getting interrupted before I published it, so here it is.)

Redeeming the time: X-men style.

When I did my X-men review, I wanted to go more into Days of Future Past, but I ran out of time. So, here we go.

Honestly, this one was my favorite.

I’m going to jump right in by bringing up the principle theme, split into two different plot lines, of the film.

The theme is Redemption.

First off we learn that in the future mutants are hunted down (so much for the efforts of the X-men in all the previous movies) and so are any humans who side with them or who harbor some early form of the mutant x-gene.

The reason all this happened is not because of Magneto’s heinous acts against humanity, as one might expect, but because of one murder of Mystique’s. Her first ( not her last.)

Mystique was always a pretty rough and seemingly merciless and conscience-less character in the first three films, in the fourth we learn she wasn’t always that way, in the fifth they finally get around to asking “What if she could have been different?”

If they could stop her from murdering the man, Trask, they could stop the war that is killing off all of them.

What if?

There are a couple things that come to my mind when I think about the idea of traveling back in time to save people.

There’s my favorite book, Till We Have Faces, in which the main character thinks that the gods can change the past. At first thinking they do so to make us seem guilty, and later realizing they do so by changing us ourselves into different people.

Then there is that verse in the Bible that says we redeem the time because the days are evil.

That certainly fits this movie’s whole premise.

I don’t believe time travel is strictly possible. But if it were, I would think it was like any other gift, meant to be used to help and to heal, but able to be used to do damage.

There’s plenty of fiction that covers the latter, but this film interestingly enough shows how, even with the best of intentions, someone could still make the future worse than ever by going back. There’s a delicate moment when Future Charles warns the team not to wake Logan up, or there will be a worse darkness than there is now. By which he means that thanks to Erik, the mutants will have exterminated humans.

Now if Logan had not gone back and busted Erik out, that could not have happened.

Actually Erik was mostly useless in the film. He didn’t help convince Raven not to shoot the guy, he didn’t try to change the people’s minds about mutants, he almost sealed their fate.

But I guess it was better for him.

Raven was the most intriguing character to me from the beginning, since I had heard she turned good eventually, but I was constantly frustrated by her poor choices.

What I liked about this film was its disdain of the idea that Raven was meant to kill Trask, and that the War was meant to happen. Of course those terrible things weren’t meant to happen.

The movie admits, through Younger Charles, that Raven needs to have a choice, but it never leaves any doubt that there is only one right choice for her to make.

That’s the thing abut knowing the future, it’s pretty hard to argue with it.

The reason Raven refuses to listen at first seems to be pure stubbornness and resentment of Charles’es attempt to control her; but I think it’s also human nature to deny consequences to our bad choices…why else do we make them?

The theme of redeeming the time comes in strongly in another way, through Logan’s wake up call to Charles himself. We know that before Logan came back, Charles wasted a good portion of those years, and was not there for Raven or for other mutants, as Erik spitefully (and unjustly considering his many betrayals) points out.

But Charles changes that, and redeems his own time as well as Raven’s.

Raven always chose Erik before, he was more intriguing, he had a sort of magnetic personality, even Charles felt its pull though he knew better than to listen to him.

What makes Raven in the end choose Charles is a number of factors.

Partly it’s that she realizes a lot sooner that Erik is not loyal to her, and does not care about her in any recognizable way; as she had thought he did. (By the way, trying to kill someone and then flirting with them when it is too late is sick and only seems charismatic in movies.)

Partly it’s that she is told the future depends basically on her actions. (Which is one thing that does not change oddly enough. People are positioned, they don’t get to choose that, they only get to choose how they use that position.)

But the most important thing that changes her mind is Charles’es persistence, and finally his releasing of her to be who she truly is.

And who she was, he believes, was never the person Erik saw her as, Older Erik admits he set her on a dark path; who she was was not even exactly what Charles himself thought, she was more than that.

When released from those negative expectations, Raven realizes what she really wants, and she drops the gun.

That moment was every bit as epic as it was intended to be, because we know how hard they worked for it.

Raven sees an opportunity to be seen as a hero instead of a villain, and she chooses it. And I personally thought the look on her face when she turns to Charles and Hank afterwards was pure relief.

Raven actually saves her own life by doing this, though no one ever actually told her (in the cut version I saw) that she died as a result of shooting Trask.

Much like another fictional character named Raven (Ever After High), she changes the whole course of history in one moment.

And who knows when any one of us might do the same thing?

Until next time–Natasha.

100_3907

The Good Doctor.

I don’t know if any of you have heard of the person Temple Grandin. She was a high functioning autistic woman, (actually I believe she’s still around,) she thought in pictorials.

I think we owe her some of our modern understanding of the condition, and also of how people who have it cope with things and overcome their disability.

Unlike with deafness or blindness, no one can really argue that Autism is not a disability. It causes a lot of frustration for the people who have it. I’m sure thy often wish they didn’t. But it’s the way they are and they have to deal with it.

I want to say upfront I don’t see these people as weird, or less then human, as some  have in the past. I see them rather as people who have involuntarily been put behind these glass walls of communication. They can look out, but it’s much harder to get out. And much harder for us to get in.

I want to give a cautious endorsement today to one of abs’s newest shows.

First off, I don’t like abc at all. So this is a big thing for me, but for once I like what they are doing.

The new show is barely a month old. It’s The Good Doctor.

Anyway, the main character of the Good Doctor, Shawn Murphy, is autistic. He is amazingly high functioning, but still very much autistic. He talks with the odd monotone they use, and has to have things a certain way.

Shawn is a doctor (duh) at as hospital in San Jose, California. They were reluctant to take him on because he has a hard time with communication. Which they really stress as important for the patients.

Back when I first started seeing commercials for this show, I was skeptical that the writers would do anything imaginative with it, though I thought it was a good idea.

I don’t know about you, but thanks to the relatives I have who like medical drama shows, I’ve seen quite a bit of Grey’s Anatomy, Bones (not exactly medical, but similar,) and NCIS.

And not one of them stressed communication and patient comfort that I could see. So, yay for San Jose!

Though the hospital has plenty of issues in its inner workings, which I’d like to think are exaggerated for dramatic effect, and not what real hospitals are focusing on, but I have no real knowledge of it.

But even though the authority figures there are concerned with image and increasing their numbers; the live-ins, Shawn, Clair, and Jared, are a tad more concerned with helping people. Especially Clair, who is actually getting in trouble quite a bit for being too nice and not honest enough with the patients.

Shawn has no filter when he speaks, so after he’s hired he steps on people’s toes without realizing why they would have a problem with what he’s saying. He has the gift of thinking in pictures and patterns (like the real life Temple Grandin) so when he looks at the human body, he intuitively understands it far better than the average doctor. He can figure out things in his mind that machine scans can’t pick up on.

A bit like Superman, who can see better with his own X-ray vision, than any X-ray machine can. Because the human capacity is always more flexible and can be improved and honed in time, while a machine can’t correct or stretch itself.

Shawn may have no social skills whatsoever, but his heart is in the right place. He is always striving to make sure the patient is completely healthy.

What I would say this shows gift is is that it understands what you, the audience, are felling watching it. Clair wants to understand Shawn better but knows nothing about how to handle him, so she starts from the ground up. And we feel the same way, trying to comprehend this person, and even though we often get glimpses into what’s going on in his mind, we still struggle with really understanding him.

It makes me wonder if the writers themselves are figuring it out as they go and hoping to better understand Autism because of their efforts.

Actually, I feel like I have almost a unique perspective on this type of thing. At least a different one than anyone else I know has.

Because, whether you have Autism, or whether you just don’t fit into the social mold society has established; it’s your decision whether you will withdraw further than ever and become even more locked into your own mind, or whether you will push the barriers.

Temple Grandin was a real life example of what Shawn Murphy is fictitiously demonstrating. Someone who realized she was different form other people, but knew that didn’t have to stop her from doing something with her life, and also realized that if her needs should be met and understood, then she should understand other peoples.

For example, Temple didn’t like being hugged. (I used to dislike that also.) But overtime she realized what a hug meant to people and she grew to offer them as a way to comfort others.

The more I learn about people with disabilities, the more I’m convinced the actual disability is the one we choose to have.

The introvert only becomes a total recluse when they accept that they can’t function with other people at all.

The person with dyslexia only becomes illiterate when they accept that they can never find a way around their problem with printed text.

You get the idea.

In conclusion, I like this show’s progress so far, I think it might actually accomplish what you would hope its goal is. To help people better understand those who have this condition, and know how to respond to them.

That’s worth making a show for.

Until next time–Natasha.

X-Men –2

Picking up where I left off…

Aside from the core theme of right vs wrong and forgiveness vs revenge, the movies cover whether people should be able to choose whatever way they want to solve things.

It comes down always to Erik vs Charles. One determined to overthrow humanity, the other determined to co-exist with it peacefully.

If one ignores the evolutionary basis for the whole concept of useful mutation (totally unfounded in real science) I would find the difference between Christ and the Devil in these two points of view.

It doesn’t seem that way at first, but when, inevitable, the question about whether mutants just deserve by birthright to be in charge and to be over all regular humans, is raised. And Magneto declares that mutants are gods among ants. Which he tells Phyro, one easily swayed mutant who joins him. He repeats the idea at other moments, no one ever contradicts him.

But Charles actions are a kind of contradiction. He chooses to protect people. Even if he is more powerful than them, he does not consider himself better than them.

We find out in the fifth film that this was because he could feel their pain. Every single person’s he read the mind of, he could experience their pain, yet without breaking. And once you have done that, it is pretty much impossible to despise them.

Nothing unites human beings more than love and pain. Ideally, it would only need to be love. But now that we all suffer, sometimes what clears away the walls is the realization that other people have suffered the same way.

What amazed me aobut Erik is that in the whole course of the films that covered his backstory and his terrible experiences in the prison camp, he never once seemed to consider that most of the Jews there with him were “ordinary’ people.

Maybe his powers made for a unique kind of torture, but other people were tortured, other people watched their families die, other people were experimented on. Other people lost everything.

Humans are just as terrible to each other as they are to other kinds of creatures.

What’s more, some of the people in prison camps were there for risking their lives for Jews. People who willingly risked their lives for the outcasts. They died for that.

Humanity may be cruel, but it can also be more kind than we have any right to expect in this cynical world we often find ourselves in.

For almost every story of some crazy person taking life there’s another of some noble person laying their life down for others.

How Erik could be so selfish, yes selfish, as to be blind to all that is astounding to me.

How he could feel the injustice of bigotry toward mutants, but not of every bigotry, is just hypocritical.

What would we say of the people who followed him?

Did it make them better? More loyal? More noble?

No, those who follow a bad leader become like him.

Mystique became a cold blooded and vengeful killer who never seemed to think for herself. Phyro turned on the people who were his friends and who risked their lives for him and on Professor X, and he despised them. Angel, ( First Class,) turned on the first real friends she ever had because of the Mutant in that film, and then stuck with Erik’s way at the end of it.

What further amazed me is that none of these people turned back even when they had to fight those they once cared about. They were so willing to give into the darkness.

It was darkness. Erik turned Raven against Charles by suggesting that Charles wanted to control her. Maybe it was true, but Erik controlled her far more than Charles ever did, and she let him do it. Charles at least loved her, Erik was incapable of loving anyone.

(In the end Charles lets Raven choose what she will do. But only because at that point forcing her to do anything would be futile. Giving her her choice was the only way to make things right, but it was not so for Erik. He had chosen already, force had to be used on him, which we see immediately; in contrast to Charles releasing Raven.)

Phyro turned to pride. To thinking he was above mere mortals. The classic struggle that separates superheroes from super villains is whether they see their strength as for service, or for power.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

What of the actual bigotry exhibited by the humans?

Well, it’s important to remember that a lot of the mutants are afraid of their own powers until they get used to them, because things that are different are often frightening. No one likes what they can’t understand until they learn to do without understanding.

But beyond that we are never given an example of humans who are open minded until the fourth and fifth films. There we see the secret agent who seemed fascinated by mutants and not at all disgusted; later we see a mom who seems to put up with her son’s mutation though she is irritated by it. We also learn that some humans defended the mutants in the War.

Even in the first film we see a man going from hating mutants to realizing they weren’t all bad, and that they did not choose to be born this way. The president is even left with deciding to be more lenient with them.

We see other humans who don’t seem to be trying to fight the mutants exactly, but they see their powers as a medical condition. Mutants like Rogue almost agree. (I can’t blame her.)

Strictly speaking the mutants are still human, and Charles, who has felt mutant pain and human pain alike, knows that the only difference is really in our minds.

That’s a two sided coin by the way. Storm admits that she hates humans sometimes because she is scared of them, and we know that is why humans hate mutants.

What someone ought to have told Erik long ago is that you can’t judge a people by what some of them do.

In the Bible, God often rules in favor of the minority. Eight people survive the flood, three people survive the destruction of two cities, a remnant is left of the Hebrews. The reason is, the parts of humanity that make it worth preserving are often int he minority. But they are still important.

In fact, the good of humanity is more important than the evil. The good in us is the reason we exist, it’s what we have left of what we were meant to be; the evil in us is the sign of our decay.

And mutant or not, that decay is present in all of us, and all of us choose whether we’re going to fight it, or give way to it.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

Expectations (for the new Justice League.)

I’ve finally seen a trailer for the Justice League movie, and I am still skeptical at best. It’d be hard to beat the show.

The key to superheroes as a tool in the creative world, is, as my sister and I have narrowed down, to put a person in a normal human situation, magnified by super abilities and super villains and over the top circumstances.

All this makes it clearer to the audience what the stakes are, what the choice is, and what the difference between the good and the evil character is.

So what I think the new film needs is not to progress further into the dark, gritty and melodramatic world that the genre has become, but to regress into more human terms.

I have nothing against climatic events and galaxy sized stakes, but it should never be about that. Making the problem with the world the main focus of any movie risks making it too vague. What the film needs to be about is what problems humans deal with on a human level. With something like the Justice League, there’s a wide range of subjects that could be covered, that’s why it worked so well as a show. Narrowing down each member’s own personal struggles in the span of one film is a difficult and almost impossible task

But my concern is that none of them will be followed through in a satisfying way.

Many super movies (and other movies and also modern literature) end with what I call a question. Ending with a question means the narrative of the film (usually the unspoken one) does not completely side with any perspective presented in it. It may lean one way, but it refuses to admit it. Leaving you, the audience, to try to figure it out by debate.

Sometimes that is okay. But I have never liked it.

I know many people are totally fine with movies ending with a question. They think it’s more respectful and more thought provoking that it does so. They think they will discuss it more and understand better because of it.

There may be times that happens, but I have yet to see that actually be the fruit of Question Films.

What I typically see is that people will take whichever side of the argument they were already on walking into the film (or reading the book) and continue to use the piece in question to defend their point of view. They claim to be getting a better understanding of it, but all they really are doing is getting deeper into their own beliefs. The film did not challenge them by presenting any belief as wrong based on evidence or results, it just fed into the desire they had to remain perfectly secure in what they already thought.

Take Zootopia, I liked that film okay, not because I agree with its supposed portrayal of society, but because I thought the characters still exhibited real world flaws that could apply to a lot more than racism or class bigotry. Judy being guilty of the crime she hated is a thing that happens to all of us at some point, and she handled it the right way.

However, I do not think it is pushing us forward if you take it only as a class and racial  (or a have and have nots) commentary because all the people that already believe that just nodded along with the film, it presented no new information or ideas to them. The people who didn’t agree either disliked the film or got a different message from it, like me.

The fact is, Zootopia was too vague to really be an effective eye opener to anyone. There are no cold hard facts in it.

The shift in super hero movies since the Avengers and Captain America franchise started is that they go from being about personal struggles to being about world wide threats. Which is not bad exactly, but in a way it renders the drama both too real for people to want to dwell on, and not real enough. Because we know similar organizations exist or have existed, and that this is just a more dramatized version of it, making it less serious and not more.

People always complain about characters not being relatable. But I think the real reason is not the struggles of the character are less terrible, but that the characters themselves are less moral.

I could relate to any character who is struggling with the right and wrong thing to do, especially if the choice is not really obvious (and I don’t mean that it’s morally ambiguous, but that it is a difficult choice to make for them because of the circumstances,) the reason is that the moral struggle is one we all go through. We are all equal under that struggle and no one is exempt from it.

Films that confuse that struggle are not being honest with us. In real life, we almost always have at least a dim idea of what the right choice is. What would be best for us to do, what we should do, and often what we know we won’t do but wish we would. In real life, we can repent of our mistakes and actually turn away from making them before we destroy our lives.

Like the Black Panther did, frankly, that was probably my favorite moment of Age of Ultron.

In real life, villains are often afraid of heroes because heroes are stronger than them in that one dangerous way: in their heart.

It’s the Dark Side in Star Wars that must be threatened by the Light. Why does the Emperor decide to kill Luke after he refuses to be corrupted? He fears and hates him for being stronger than himself.

So, to wrap all this up, the more dark these films become the more impossible to please the fans will be. Once people start to hunger for drama and gore and unbelievable violence, it will only grow. It’s happened many times. By pandering to this wish, Hollywood is dooming itself.

And it is only by being a little less picky about our special affects, our complex characters, and our high stakes; and a little more concerned with what affect our entertainment is actually having on us, that we will learn to really enjoy it.

That’s my thought anyway. I’d forgive the new Justice League for a lot if Batman would just take a knee at some point and deeply regret his actions in the previous film(s.) (I’d forgive even more if Wonder Woman straight up tells him what he did was reprehensible and doesn’t want to join the league till she’s convinced he’s really changed.)

As unlikely as I find both those things, I hope that there’s someone on the writing team who still knows how to use the genre.

Anyway, there’s still Infinity Wars coming.

Until next time–Natasha.

Circle of Life.

Lyrics of African lyrics:

Here comes a lion father

oh yes it’s a lion

we’re going to conquer

a lion and tiger come to this open place.

 

From the day we arrive on the planet

and blinking step into the sun

There’s more to see than can ever be seen, ‘

more to do than could ever be done

there’s far too much to take in here

much more to find than cane very be found

but the sun rolling high 

in the sapphire sky

keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the circle of life

and it moves us all

through despair and hope

through faith and love

till we find our place

on the path unwinding

It’s the circle, 

the circle of life.

Anyone else get chills when they hear this English part? I used to love this intro.

It’s just so great. I always though it captured the feeling of being in Africa and being one of the animals in the film.

Something about it. IT just suggests wisdom and steadiness with life.

Well, I doubt it surprises anyone that I like the Lion King. Who doesn’t?

Though to be honest, Simba was never my favorite part of it. I like Mufasa, and Nala, and kind of Timon and Pumba.

Well, everyone loves Mufasa.

And I also hated Scar, which most people don’t seem to. Though at the last you almsot feel sorry for him…almost.

Actually to my mind the whole scene where he hyenas kill him while the fire starts burning them is one of the creepiest Disney deaths ever. But poetically just.

Anyway, why one earth would I make this song the subject of a post?

Well, I always thought this song was embodying some tribal philosophy. Don’t take that the wrong way, it just seems like Disney selected an African culture to base the film off of. (Plus Hamlet.)

Now, maybe it is, but if so, now that I know the lyrics, I’m not convinced that philosophy is so bad.

Again, this song just has a rich tone. That’s what really makes it work. The lyrics aren’t spectacular, until you combine them with those awesome vocals and background music.

Then you get something that basically makes you feel like you’re on the African Savannah watching life happen.

The best things about the animation for this film as that everything in it seems royal. It just spells it out for you. Every beast is portrayed majestically and proud, except for the hyenas and Timon and Pumba. But especially in this opening number, you really feel like you’re that young giraffe we see, or Simba himself. Seeing all this for the first time, and being overawed by it all.

You feel the wonder of being young and new to the world.

And that is a good feeling to have. Especially to us older and often more cynical folks.

also I could feel a sort of appreciation all the beasts have for their world.

And that’s another factor of this film, it’s very simple. The circle of life is easy to explain. You are born, you die. Lions eat antelope; but antelope eat grass, which grows from dirt which the lions turn into after dying. The sun moves over the Savannah and provides light to all the animals, enabling the circle to continue.

It gets even more interesting if you start looking further in the the symbolism in the film. It’s no accident that we see a birth, a death, a coming of age, another death, and finally another birth; all in the course of the story. (nor that we see similar things int he sequel. If you’ve watched that.) It’s a circle.

Now I am not one of those who thinks that thinks just progress in a certain way because of some abstract Mother Nature, or some pattern that just proceeds because it has to. OF course I think God established the rhythm of the world. (It has since been tweaked a lot, and not for the better.)

But because I believe that, I don’t find the circle of life idea offensive. I think it’s very true that things proceed in a circular pattern. This has been pointed out in “The Fourth Turning.”

The reason it simple enough. Human nature doesn’t change, and Nature itself has to operate the way it is designed to. So you have events always repeating themselves, though never exactly in the same way.

Mufasa and Simba are not the same. But they have to take the same role in life.

But it should not be lost on the audience that the movie, though showing deatht o be a real and important thing, supports life as the goal and proper state of the world. Showing how Simba restores life and order to his kingdom.

The whole thing with the Sun even in the song lyrics is pointing to life and health and prosperity.

Also, in true Disney fashion (and much like Frozen) the song is foreshadowing the movie’s events.

Through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place, int he path unwinding.

TO be honest, I neer understood those lines, I fully expected the last part to be “to fulfill our dream” or something like that.

It so would be now.

Simba goes through despair, and then hope, he finds faith and then love. Then he finds his place. (The path unwinding part comes more into the sequel.) The landscape of the film mirrors his journey. From the dry canyon and the thorny bramble, to the lush and lazy jungle, back to his home, and ultimately we see that home restored to it’s lush state also.

The beasts and other lions also experience despair at losing their king, then hope when Simba returns, they put their faith in him, and in the end things are right again.

Symbolically, we hear the song again at the close of the film. (You remember that thunderclap sound that  everyone got pumped up after hearing?)

Things come full circle.

That was subtlety, back in the day.

There is so much to unpack from this film, but that’ all I can fit into this post. Until next time–Natasha.

For King and Country–2

In my previous post I explored the knee bending issue, but I wanted to get into the actually reason for the title of these two posts.

I recently heard a pastor point out that whether you like the President or not, you should respect him. And I was surprised, not for any lack of agreement, but because I don’t seem to recollect hearing that preached on before, even for a brief moment. (Though I have read the idea at least.)

Do you know what happened when Hitler took over the Youth of Germany? The system began teaching them disrespect for the old and weak, (and anyone not a German.)

It was horrifying in cultures where respect for elders was a given principle of life, but I believe every tyranny of that sorts starts out by teaching the youth to despise certain things.

In China it was the Rich, the wealthy, the overlords. Anyone who had any valuables.

Those of us who aren’t in the Country and who see value in these things, are dumbfounded that people could ever be convinced they were worthless. But it’s brainwashing. They weren’t allowed to question it.

You can guess where I’m going with this, I think many people who influence this country are now trying to bias it against the morals that would make it harder for them to take over.

Once upon a time, in a land not far away, Slander and Libel, (See. J. Jonah Jameson for the difference between the two,) were considered low things to commit. Everyone knew of course that people did it, but those people were looked down upon as being willing to say anything for a sensation.

Now, that goes without saying.

Now the thing that we are all supposed to forget about is Respect.

Respect for leaders, for authority, for law and order.

Think about it, there is no such thing as respect for any of those things in most of the Media now. In many parts of the country, people disregard the value of those institutions.

It might seem that the leaders of this country have more to lose than gain if all the youth in it have zero respect for the leader themselves, but that’s where their plan becomes diabolical.

In addition to not giving anyone respect whom we don’t personally like, we are taught to blindly listen to anyone who echoes our own beliefs, the opinion we want to have supported, and who appeals to our personal taste.

It doesn’t matter how immoral they are, we like what they do.

To youths of this country, Older People may seem prudish when they don’t like the things they watch or listen to (or even when they do like them) but the fact is, some of them at least have their reasons.

Some of our parents and especially Grandparents can just remember a time when people were not revered if they behaved in the ways celebrities often behave now. They were not defended by any decent folks.

They can remember a time when not all sin under the sun was glorified or laughed at.

I wish I remembered a time like that.

To get back to the main point, The President should be respected.

There will probably be those who wonder if I respected Obama.

The answer is, as a man, no. I had no respect for him, his intelligence, or his ideals. I couldn’t.

As a leader, I was never happy with him, but I would not say things like what I hear being said now.

We are allowed the right to criticize the president, by the Constitution. But not to make death threats against him (or anyone) and his family; to slander him without a cause, or to lie about him.

To show videos of him that can be interpreted many ways.

To call him the names that he has been called.

Now, though I considered what we do with our mouth to be vital, I’ll admit that we are given the right to say whatever we want. The Founders knew that plenty of folks would criticize the leaders, but the also wanted to have a balanced view of the population.

Not a one sided view that tries to shut up any voice that goes against it.

I don’t think they intended for us to be lied to constantly as a whole.

I also don’t think they intended to ever suggest that leaders do not deserve respect; but even if they did not address the issue, the Bible does.

That might not matter to some, but there are plenty of Christians saying the same things as the secular world view sources.

Pure hostility is dishonorable, and it never changed a nation. Except to turn it against the very people who would have preserved it.

The German youth turned against those who would have told them that  love for your fellow man, and respect for the old are vital things if you would become wise and prosperous in a lasting way.

The Chinese turned against those who could have resisted the new government most effectually, and who could have kept some wealth among them.

We are turning against those who could have united us, and slowed down our path toward utter chaos and destruction.

Even now we could turn back, if we realized what we were doing. It’s why deception is so maddening to hear about and to see,  because the deceived believe themselves to be clear sighted.

But having said my say, I don’t intend to worry about it for long. My hope does not depend on the Government. I don’t feel grieved for my own fate as much as for the fate of millions who will never know what hit them.

One more thing, supposing that, in a future time, I come to think our president is not what I had hoped him to be.

Even so, and even though Obama was exactly what many feared him to be, my respect for him should not waver when it comes to the public. Whatever  I think in private, my public opinion should be put in such terms as will not disrespect, however much they may offend, the president and his supporters.

You can be honest, and not hostile. Blunt, and not cruel.

That’s my perspective–Until next time, Natasha.

Bittersweet.

I have made no secret of the fact that while I’m a Disney Fan, I don’t like everything they do, as some fans. But there’s a saving grace. Even in my least favorite Disney Princess film, there was one song.

Ironically, it’s the one with the same title as the movie. “Beauty and The Beast.”

For some reason, this song was just more palatable to me than the film itself. It basically sums up what the film’s message is, which isn’t such a bad one. But I could never swallow it in that format.

However, in song form, I actually really like it. If you haven’t heard the song a million times by now, I’ll sum it up for you:

The song is about how what’s happening is a tale as old as time, certain as the sun rising from the east.

In other words, what we’re seeing is something that’s happened before and is certain to happen again. That’s important to remember.

The song also describes the two people as both scared, and neither prepared for what’s taking place.

Young love right? Well, sort of.

But the parts that I actually think are unusual are as follows:

Barely even friends, then somebody bends, unexpectedly…

Bitter sweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong.

I really had to pause when I finally knew what the lyrics were. (It took years before I did.)

Perhaps it doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary to my readers, but personally, I rarely hear this sort of message in children’s films anymore. even Disney ones are losing it, though Frozen does stand out as a recent example to the contrary.

What’s unusual about that one lyric “Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong” is the Bittersweet part.

We could all name a bunch of stories, both real and fictional, in which someone is aghast when they realize they are wrong, and they feel guilty.

But the nice thing here is that the song admits there is sometimes a phenomenon, strange as it is, in which it is partially a relief to find out you were wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be right. Being wrong tends to scare me. It may be one of my worst weaknesses. Yet even I can at least imagine how being wrong about something could be a pleasant thing.

It’s bitter because no one with any honesty can say change of that sort isn’t painful and difficult, even while it’s rewarding.

To refer back to Frozen for a moment, I have said before that that movie admits that we are messed up and need to change, but it does so in such a way that we can feel the utter relief of both our main characters at the end when they realize they both can change, and want to change, and have changed.

If I may so, this also appears in Brave, when Merida and her Mother realize that they needed to change their attitudes toward each other and do so without realizing it.

Did you know that the name of the Beast in Prince form is Adam?

Call me crazy, but I think that it was not a mere chance. Beauty and the Beast mirrors the Garden of Eden story in several ways. The forbidden plant that both of them handle poorly; The prince rejecting it, Belle nearly touching it after being warned to stay away from the West Wing. Then Belle reenacts leaving the garden by running away, just as the Prince reenacts becoming cursed by sin to become something he is not supposed to be.

In the original tale, Beauty is more of a Christ figure in taking her father’s place to pay his debt, but the movie focused less on that part than on her own mistakes.

But where the movie and book both detour from the Fall story is that they skip ahead to the redemption part of it. Where both the main characters learn to love instead of fear, and to forgive, and to admit they were wrong, and eventually death itself is turned backwards.

I’m not theorizing that this is a Christian film in secret by any means (the remake really destroys that idea) but inadvertently, it has the Christian message woven into it. In a gentler form than some other movies, in that the key to the whole thing ends up being two people changing each other.

By the way, everyone always makes fun of the fact that Belle is a classic example of a woman thinking she can change an ogreish man. But in the book, and movie to an extent, it’s the Beast who changes her perspective.

I’d have liked Belle a lot more if she started the movie with more misconceptions about outward appearance that eventually got overturned, instead of being all perfect yet still strangely annoying.

To be honest, I think the reason I can’t stand her is because she spends her whole first number complaining about the people around her instead of proactively trying to befriend them and see the best in them, and treat them like actual people.

Hmm… just like she does with the Beast, at first.

But oddly enough she doesn’t really learn her lesson because she goes back to the town and is no better to anyone.

Well, I’ve already complained about this film enough to make plenty of folks mad as it is.

Anyway, so to conclude, changing is a thing to be celebrated. I thank God I am not the same person I was five years ago. (Five years exactly as of this month.)

I’ll say this: Most people are secretly frustrated not by the fact that others don’t change, but by the fact that they believe they themselves cannot.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.