Monday, March 3, 2014

Guilt, the Movie

I don't watch many 'hollywoodish' movies. The more well-known the actor, the less inclined am I to watch it; the more raved, the less apt am I to watch. The reason might be as simple as the fact that movies are an escape for me and I can't mentally escape if I am recognize this person outside of the role before me.

Further, the last thing I will ever watch is a movie about social injustice a la Jews, black people, homosexuals, whatever. I did like that movie a few years ago about the Jews in Eastern Europe who had formed a sort of militia, fighting back against the Nazis. That was because this was not the "Jew as victim" thing that I have seen a million times. I will not believe that a whole race of people never fought back. I know my Bible (and my Josephus) well enough to know that this is not the Jewish people. And, I cannot get too excited about American racism again, I watched Amistad and Mississippi Burning, I don't need to watch Twelve Years a Slave.

The point of this post is the moral duty that was performed last night at the Oscars (Emmys?) by awarding the slavery movie its necessary Oscar (or Emmy? - obviously, I didn't watch it).

It seems that each year Hollywood execs do their moral duty by given the year's 'moralistic' movie it's award. I want to talk about the why. Now, there are different reasons for the necessity of this, depending upon the role one plays in it. The execs do it to defend their morally vacuous industry and personal lives. Fans require it because they need to know their lives stand for more than just mindless entertainment and consumption. They believe they are good people because they want to condemn slavery - like that condemnation really costs them something. Reminds me of the guy here in Barry's Bay with the bumper sticker that says "No Uranium." I have seen Putin, Harper,Obama and even Kim Jong Un in that car with him a number of times. Rumor is, he has almost resolved the Ukraine problem. But I digress.

I am not saying that there is no such thing as racism. But, given American culture, having another movie about it is sort of like having another movie about the life of Our Lord, with another actor who looks exactly like all the other actors who have played that role. There I said it. Someone had to. I feel much better now.

There are 'racists' in the US. But a racist in the US is sort of like a Satanist - someone whose dedication to something is so funny because, well, who defines their lives simply as an anti-something? Satanism means I don't like Christianity. Ok, great, but what do you like? Nietzsche was anti-Christianity, and his reasons were really interesting. A vegetarian is uninteresting if he is simply anti-meat. Now, if he has a definite idea about health, etc., then that is something. If he knows all the ins-and-outs of biology, etc., then he becomes a human being with depth. Don't tell me about how bad it is to put an innocent black man into slavery. Yes, of course that's bad. But so is kicking cats. Open and shut. Not interesting, not art. Make a movie about horrible black people (like those in the Central African Republic) and slavery. Or, if you are going to make a movie about racism, make it about the uncomfortable reality of the encroachment of Islam on Western society. Tell me about tolerance in that context. There is no problem with tolerating an Uncle Tom - that is a fake issue; people like that are not why there is racism in the world. But what about an obnoxious, arrogant Islamist - you know, a real problem with dimension? Black and white (no pun intended, because not clever) scenarios are not worth being made into a movie. Don't get all self-righteously anti-racist when you have no intention of ever befriending someone in Compton, or some place like that. What made Breaking Bad so compelling is that it was about a 'hero' who gradually became a quite contemptible person regardless of the justification he attempted to provide for his behavior. Have Denzel Washington and Will Smith ever been other than thoroughly lovable?

In theological circles, I have met many so-called theologians who are simple "rah-rah go"-ists who call this theology. That is not theology; at best it is apologetics, but, really, a superficial chauvinistic 'ism.' It's about team spirit: we are right and you are wrong; esprit de corps; theology as a team-building exercise. Theology is directed to unfolding the truth of God, not  building the confidence of a group.

Awards to movies like this is not about art, it is about team-spirit building. What is the US, Western secular culture, etc? It is a society that condemns slavery, apparently. How satisfying is that? My question is, is it enough? Sixty years ago when a million Canadians went off to fight the Germans and the Japanese, these soldiers had a definite sense of what their culture stood for, and why it was worth dying for. The Germans and the Japanese generally thought so too about their nation. However, I do not think that many people want to serve and die for a secular nation. American culture is so shallow today. No one wants to die for it. No one would die for a democracy that is morally bankrupt and actually persecutes its best members. A culture that simply opposes racism cannot be cohesive. When you cast off Christianity, you are left with a United States with no raison d'etre. Multiculturalism has no metaphysical depth; anti-racism, anti-homosexualism, these will not unite men. This is the function that anti-racism movies are meant to perform. It only works on people who really aren't that deep: children and, well, movie-people.

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