Archive for October, 2021

Dumb Movie Noble Sacrifices

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:13.

In 1982, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came out in theaters and shocked everybody when Spock sacrificed himself to restore warp drive in the Enterprise, saving everyone aboard from the exploding Genesis device. It was the most shocking demise of a central character since Old Yeller.

The following year, Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader, laid down his life to save his son in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. Gotta tie up those loose ends.

And then Mayday sacrificed herself in A View To A Kill. Sybok sacrificed himself in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Miles Dawson blew himself up in Terminator II: Judgment Day. Dillon and Ripley offed themselves in Alien 3. Léon, the Professional, blew himself up in Léon: The Professional. Russell Casse famously yelled out “Hello, boys! I’m back!” and blew himself up in Independence Day to save the world. Jack Dawson sank like a stone to save Rose in Titanic. Harry Stamper blew himself up to save the world in Armageddon. Don Diego de la Vega received a mortal wound, sometime somewhere…? In The Mask Of Zorro. Jericho Kane sacrificed himself to save the world in End of Days. Qui-Gon Jinn received a mortal wound in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and Maximus received a mortal wound in Gladiator. Also, Maximus received permission from a female to go ahead and die…how touching. Hawk Hawkins sacrificed himself to send the deadly nuclear warheads into deep space in Space Cowboys.

Data replicated Spock’s feat, blowing himself up to save the Enterprise and Earth as well in Star Trek X: Nemesis. Jean Grey buried herself under a lethal mass of water so the X-Men could get away in X-Men 2: X-Men United. The titular Bill did was he was titularly supposed to do, in Kill Bill Vol. 2, and momma and child lived happily ever after without the dumb ol’ dad. Tarantino repeated this momma plus child minus dad formula in Planet Terror with the death of El Wray. Neville blew himself up to kill the zombies in I Am Legend. Walt Kowalski got himself all shot up with machine gun fire to send the murderous gang members to prison in Gran Torino. Rorschach said “do it” to Doctor Manhattan, who then obliged, obliterating him in Watchmen. Flynn sacrificed himself to take out Clu in Tron: Legacy. Captain America took down the plane in Captain America: The First Avenger. Ella blew herself up to take out the aliens in Cowboys and Aliens. Batman seemingly atomized himself hauling the nuclear bomb out of Gotham in the Batwing in The Dark Knight Rises.

Superman: The Man of Steel offered a triple play of white males sacrificing themselves for the greater good: Colonel Hardy, Emil Hamilton and Jonathan “Pa” Kent. Groot sacrificed himself to save his fellow Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy. Nux sacrificed himself in Mad Max: Fury Road. Pietra Maximoff used his body as a shield to save a small child along with Clint Barton in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Superman offed himself to save all of humanity, lancing Doomsday with a Kryptonite spear in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Barbossa allowed himself to be consumed by the ocean to save his daughter, and others, in Pirates of the Caribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Yondu froze himself to death to save Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Steve Trevor blew himself up to destroy the poison gas bombs in Wonder Woman. Merlin blew himself up to save his fellow Kingsmen in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Silas Stone sacrificed himself so that his son, Victor, could track down the Mother Box and save humanity in Justice League: Snyder Cut…and, presumably, in the theatrical cut as well, we just weren’t able to see it happen. Some guy named Toshi and some guy named Heller sacrificed themselves in The Meg. Vice Admiral Holdo engaged hyperdrive at point blank range, a suicide move, in Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, and then later on Luke Skywalker did a cool thing with Force projection and then…just kinda vanished just because. Natasha Romanov sacrificed herself for the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame and then later on Tony Stark did himself in with The Snap. He, like Maximus, received permission to die from a female, how sweet. Granting permission to die. Just makes your heart melt.

And then…spoilers, those who have not yet see No Time To Die might want to skip this…highlight to read…James Bond blew himself up by engaging the blow-up-bad-guy’s-base trope one more time, but skipping the escape-with-moments-to-spare trope, because his body was irreversibly infected with nanobots that would have killed his estranged wife and daughter if he ever came in contact with them again.

To say that a pattern has emerged would be understating the issue. Those who are sufficiently interested to track the years by what I’ve listed above, will notice there’s been an acceleration; the self-sacrifice started out as a rarity, and nowadays it’s a rarity if it isn’t there. To say I find it offensive, as a straight white male, would be engaging in a falsehood. I was never offended by it. I skipped straight from blithely ignoring the pattern, failing to notice that what in my childhood was an exception had now become a rule — to — pure and sincere boredom. Yesterday, Saturday, I was staying home enjoying a marathon streaming session with Mrs. Freeberg and it came time to pick the third movie. Noticing the previous two movies (I shall not say what they were) were just build-ups to dumb-noble-sacrifices from straight-white-males, I made the request that we find something that doesn’t have that.

It’s not a matter of offense. And it really isn’t purely a matter of boredom. A lot of these movies, when they have a dumb-noble-sacrifice from a straight-white-male at the end — all that comes before that, is relegated to being merely a lead-up to that. Well, that’s a solid block of at least two hours. Movies used to be a hodge-podge of beautiful things, and genuine surprises, non-tropey ones. They were a delight. You never knew what you were gonna get. Now you kinda do. Some hackneyed noble sacrifice, usually, and invariably from a straight white male. The observation I’m making here is about shifting norms. A sort of death-worship has crept in and gone mainstream.

I imagine I should be more concerned about the suicide rate among white boys. I really don’t know how that shakes out over time. I wouldn’t be surprised if suicide is as high, or higher, in non-whites, but males have been leading the suicide statistics for awhile. It’s the worldview that really concerns me the most, whether it leads to suicide or not. It’s the unwritten rule. Save the world, fornicate like a happy tomcat over it, live to fight another day, leave the audience wondering what exciting adventure you’re going to have next — it seems, now, that that just can’t happen. Someone’s banned it. It’s slightly less intrusive than banning happy endings altogether.

The idea of younger generations filing into movie theaters conditioned to ask themselves: “I wonder who’s going to off himself?” is troubling. Back in my day, we used to wonder what to wonder. Death worship of some kind might happen, but so could anything else. It was a real smorgasbord, if the movie was any good. A real grab bag.

The concept of remembering the sacrifice is a solid swing-and-a-miss. There’s always some subtext about the importance of remembering the fallen. Seems the build-up is always there, and the payoff never is. The other cast members, and the audience, will make darn good & sure to celebrate the life of the decedent, and never, ever forget them and the sacrifice they made. For about ten, fifteen minutes. After which, they’ll be replaced by a more diverse cast, and never mentioned again.

Well, if you’re a Christian, you belong to a religion that does not, and cannot, see martyrdom as something trivial. That’s another concern we should have. It’s being trivialized. When Spock did it, it was sacred. Now it’s like an empty box to be checked as the script makes its way through various drafts.

Some of this has to do with natural attrition. Actors get tired of roles, and part of a writer’s job is to find some coherent believable way to make the necessary cast change happen. Where it’s the white males biting the bullet, oftentimes it’s a planned scrubbing. This is why the “we’ll always remember your sacrifice forever and ever for the next five minutes” bait-and-switch comes to pass. The remembrance is what’s promised, but the forgetfulness is what’s planned. That’s the real social norm that is crystallizing before our eyes: The scrubbing of people, from existence and from remembrance. More often than not, because of their sex and their skin color.

We’re paying for creativity and we’re not getting it. The field of available plot elements should be expanding over time, and instead it’s being narrowed, sharpened like a pencil. Central characters, particularly white male central characters, off themselves simply because the scriptwriters don’t know any other way to do it anymore, and maybe the audience doesn’t know how to watch anything else anymore. Perhaps the mindset now is one of all-or-nothing: The thing you’re doing is so much bigger and more important than you are — and we require a suicide to make it obvious, this being a movie & all — or else, it’s not worth anything at all, and why are we bothering to watch? So there’s an expansive middle ground between the two extremes that’s gone missing. That’s very rarely any kind of good thing.

Is the Science Tinged with Politics, or the Politics Tinged with Science?

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

One liberal has acknowledged that the science of COVID has been infused with a “tinge” of politics…but just a tinge. Another liberal has refused to concede even that much. Most liberals don’t talk to me, so my sampling here is limited. But based on interactions like these and other things I’ve seen, I think this to be the big disconnect between emotionally-invested, self-identifying liberals vs. normal people.

What is all this fuss about the ‘Vid? Science, or politics? I think most people who are thinking on it with some clarity, would acknowledge it’s a mixture of both. The question then must arise: How much of each? What is it — predominantly?

People like me might be inclined to ask: Can science and politics co-exist anywhere, without the latter dominating the former?

Well, as we look into that, first we have the masks. In theory they ought to be at least partially effective. But we just haven’t seen a correlation between mask mandates versus slowing the spread, and that’s after…what, a year and seven months? So nineteen months. That could be because mandating masks is not the same as actually wearing the masks. But there’s been so much nanny-nanny-boo-boo and tut-tutting about masks, and so little science. Masks are elevated above other remedies because they’re visible. I think everyone who’s been watching what’s gone down, understands this, or should. We pivoted away awfully quickly from “wash your damn hands like your mama should’ve taught you,” even though COVID did wonderful things to educate us on how many people hadn’t been doing this. Some of whom work in food service. Yuck. Anyway. I would hope everyone with a brain still undamaged, would concede there’s been very little actual science overlapping with these masks.

Next we have the fired health care workers. Science would say…hey wait a minute, these are health care professionals. They’d rather suspend their careers than get the shot. What do they know that we don’t know? But also…if this is so serious, how can we afford to fire so many of them? The only explanation that makes sense is that this is about control, not about a real pandemic. Politics, not science.

The third thing is the natural immunity. There is such a thing. It’s science. How come the powers-that-be are playing it down the way they are? It’s got something to do with being powers-that-be, obviously. That’s politics. It isn’t science.

And then there is Tony the Tyrant. Perhaps it’s escaped everyone’s notice, but we don’t need “The Nation’s Top Epidemiologist” to tell us the things he’s telling us. Let’s review: Don’t doubt the statistics, even though we were caught red-handed counting a motorcycle crash fatality as a COVID death. Believe everything. Stay home, wear two masks, wash your hands, Rand Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about, socially distance, wear masks even if you’re vaxxed, I’m so glad I don’t work for Trump anymore, if you attack me you’re attacking science, the droplets are how it’s spread so wear your masks…and gee, I dunno about this “vaccine mandate applies to people who already had COVID” thing so I’ll take a pass on that. Wear your masks. That pretty much covers it, right? Now a lot of these are opinions, that are reasonable, but conflict with other opinions that are also reasonable. We could have discussions about these. As far as being science, they’re not advanced science so there’s no reason to pick out our “top expert” and forget about what everyone else says. That’s not how you do science. That’s how you do bureaucracy and phony-consensus-building.

And then, fifth thing, is China. We’re not allowed to say, or even recall, that it’s a China Virus. It’s just like O.J. Simpson murdering his wife, the evidence doesn’t point anywhere else. Except that analogy breaks down because we were allowed to say “O.J. killed Nicole.” There we go again with those powers-that-be. When they’re telling us what not to say and what not to think, how in the world could that not be politics?

This is not the first time China has infected us with a deadly strain. If we were really into using science to protect ourselves from this, the scientific questions to be asking might include: Say, what’s China working on right now? Getting ready to hit us again? I think that might be the fifth or sixth deadly infection, I’ve lost count…

Another thing is our attitude toward the “vaccine hesitant.” It’s just weird, and I’m in a position to know because I’m one of them. I’m not anti-vax, but I’m definitely hesitating, waiting to see how this whole thing plays out before I go injecting something into my system I can’t pump out again. Discussing this has made me tired…ah, ha ha! That’s not true. We haven’t discussed it even a tiny bit. Which is weird and strange, given that vax-hesitancy has taken everybody by complete surprise. They did Nazi it coming! Well, whether we discuss it or not, I can monologue about it so allow me to expound on this one…

Accountability used to be a real thing, and no longer is. Think on this: Our alleged President likes to throw out numbers, dates and ultimatums. So maybe slip this one into his hopper…”If we can get the vaccination rate up past ninety percent we’ll get rid of the COVID. If we do that and it doesn’t happen, I will resign as President at noon Eastern Time, November 30th.”

No, I don’t really want that. There’s no such thing as getting rid of COVID, and I wouldn’t want that giggling whore running so much as a lemonade stand let alone the executive branch. But apart from those problems, you know I know you know you’re never going to hear him say something like that. It would involve accountability.

We The People are supposed to perform, and provide our “I’ve been vaxxed” cards if we want to eat, work, travel or associate with anybody. The people telling us to do this performing, keep their jobs no matter what happens. In fact, for him to say anything even vaguely resembling what’s above, he would have to define a goal. “Daily new cases” or “positive per 100,000” or something like that. We receive those reports. So we know they can be measured. But we don’t hear about any goals. All we get is “keep wearing your masks,” “get vaccinated” and “we think we’ve turned a corner.”

For, closing in on two years now. Strange, innit? Real science would be intrigued and want to know more. What we’re dealing with here, doesn’t want to know anything. It’s got this –>||<– much curiosity about why people are hesitant, what it might take to make them not-hesitant, what exactly it is we’re trying to do…etc…

As a side-point: People who are oriented toward specific goals, shouldn’t take direction from people who aren’t.

But anyway, I just don’t see very much science in this. I see people with degrees wearing white coats and using science-buzzwords as they appear on teevee. Did you know, politics can look like science? It’s like the metaphorical wolf wearing a sheep costume. This particular costume, up close, when you take the time to inspect it, isn’t very convincing. It only looks like a sheep from a distance. It looks like real science if, and only if, you refuse to ask any questions…

…you know, the way the powers-that-be want. Believe everything, don’t ask questions, get your shot or you’re fired. Seems political…but, that’s just my initial impression. My temporary, fleeting, nineteen-month opinion.