Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I’m afraid Mr. Hasson has completely lost me.
He started off on a high note, making a point I know to be sensible because I agree with it: Things that are a certain way, have no need to announce they are a certain way. So he doesn’t like 300 because the men are all strutting around communicating to the audience how manly they are, by acting manly. The “doth protest too much” thing.
Okay, it’s a fair point…not without its share of problems. For starters, how come the “doth protest too much” cudgel is only swung around with regard to manly men? If I explore the Storytellers blog for a few minutes will I find another screed about…Rosie O’Donnell being outspoken and having opinions? How about Bill Clinton being compassionate, or Hillary being intelligent and strong-willed? Right off the top of my head, there are three loudmouths not known for missing opportunities to demonstrate to everybody that they are a certain thing — whose sense of purpose to the rest of us, would be forever lost if it was to be demonstrated they were something else.
But he’s a storyteller. So how about…Raymond on “Everybody Loves Raymond” being an insecure, cowardly, incompetent boob? Hey — there’s twenty-two minutes per episode, spend ‘em wisely. And the minutes are spent defining the character attributes of this guy who, having sat through the episodes already, I already know to be that way. Got anything to say about that Mr. Hasson?
Another problem with that point. It simply isn’t enough to make a movie bad. That’s just a simple fact. Characters are defined a certain way, and certain devices are deployed in order to inform me that these characters have these traits. If I don’t like the device — and I very often don’t, in movies nowadays — the story is still advanced, I still have an understanding of what this character is supposed to be. It may be an entirely legitimate nitpick, but a nitpick is what it is. Nothing more significant than that.
But then we spiral downward…
The movie could so easily have been good. Here are a few options:
The movie could have been about what a hero is. We would have seen how real men become real heroes, by showing us how much they overcome hardships and sacrifice. And then, as the plot progressed, and as the heroes overcame unbelievable obstacles, they would actually achieve superhuman feats. There really have been superhuman feats in history – even in the last few decades – in which real people did the impossible. But if you don’t show real people doing something real to achieve something heroic, then you’re not showing heroes. Had the movie been done this way, it would have been a true epic yarn about heroism.
I’m taking it as a given that his point is not “why, oh why, does nobody ever take the initiative and do this.” What he wants carried out here has already been done, here and here and here and here and here and many other places as well. What is his point, that these things are never done and he wishes they were? Surely it can’t be that. So many other examples I’ve not mentioned. This is where he’s lost me. What’s his beef?
The movie could just as easily have been about the bad side of being heroic. There are times in human history in which it became necessary for a group of good men to become inhuman monsters, efficiently programmed with the fight and nothing more. Although people actually do this to survive, once it is done, it cannot be easily reversed. In addition, if you release the testosterone monster in men and make it all-important, there would be an immediate price to pay (more in-house violence, rape, and so on). Had the movie been done this way, it would have punched its audience in the gut.
The movie could have been an examination of what it is to be a man lost to war. It would have taken a normal man, and seen how each human part of him must be put aside so that the fighting machine can exist. Had the movie been done this way, it would have been tragic.
And that’s been explored with a great deal of exuberance, here and here and here. The hero dissolving into a reflection of the very thing he sought to defeat, I daresay, is one of the oldest memes in storytelling history. It has no problem with underexposure or even with wearing out it’s welcome anytime soon.
The movie could have been about real men who had left real lives behind, and then were killed on the battlefield.
Oh, pul-leaze. The young puppy-faced corporal who turns to his buddy, flips open a locket and yells over the mortar explosions, “That’s Louise! She’s the girl I’m gonna marry just as soon as I get home!” was a tired old saw when my Dad was taking my Mom out to the movies, over fifty years ago. It’s like being the guy in the red shirt beaming down to the planet with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Some young kid is foolish enough to tell his squadmembers about a telegram relaying the happy news of his wife’s new pregnancy…you crack open a cold one. Just try and shotgun it while the kid’s still breathing. You probably can’t. Kid might as well have dug his own grave, hopped inside and pulled the dirt down over him. Announcing your wife’s pregnancy in a war movie is the dumbest thing you can do if you want to live. It’s like being in a horror slasher-flick and yelling “I’ll be right back!”
The movie could have been about how men choose how to die. Knowing they would lose if they fought and lose if they didn’t fight, real decisions would have to be made. Had the movie been done this way, it would… well, it would have been a great movie.
I hate to keep picking on you, but Lordy this is getting tiresome. It’s like that time they re-designed Superman’s costume and started taking away some of his powers and giving him other ones…why not just make a new superhero? Why don’t you write your own movie? We have this…and if you ask me, it was ruined because it was way to predictable. There is this, which completes a mutually-destructive coupling because those two movies were released the same summer, were about the same thing, and surely brought in less revenue because of the unfortunate timing. That pairing was not only bad for business, it lifted the lid on the absolute lack of creativity going on in Hollywood. Now that 300 has fixed that, here you are saying you want more of the same-ol’ same-ol’. Well, this certainly counts, and so do a bazillion James Bond movies and Star Trek episodes. C’mon.
The movie could have been about the power of women over men. If the queen had sent the king to a war he didn’t want to go to using her womanly wiles, that would have made a good movie, too.
Okay, I think now we’re getting to the bottom of things.
Guy Hasson, if I’m understanding him correctly, is not demanding a greater supply of imagination, creativity, variety and good storytelling; he’s asking for less of these things. A tough, hardy, intelligent, skilled and disciplined band of brothers have been portrayed as intrinsically understanding the most noble course of action, and then taking it upon themselves to hunker down and get it done. They laid down their lives and endured agonizing death in order to protect the weaker — and at the moment the final arrows hit, they were exactly what they were when the opening credits rolled by. No transformation. No loss of innocence. No “Omigaw, I just screwed up.” No “Omigaw, I was sure I’d make it back again.” No “Omigaw, I became what I went to fight.” Complete omigaw-free. Just manly men in the purest sense, doing what manly men do, understanding from start to finish what that all entails.
It’s too much. Where’s the petulant, pissy snarking at the manly-man? I’m just so used to seeing it, it seems to be missing here.
This is very telling. As the box office performance of 300 shows, we’re living now in an age where people are hungry for heroes. Resourceful, capable men who can look at something bad going down, and say to themselves — if I do nothing, X will happen, and if I do something Y will happen even though I’ll get hurt. X simply cannot be, so in we go.
We’re pretty evenly divided on this thing. The audience eats it up and begs for seconds, and the critics are rolling their eyes, waiting for the subject to be changed.
I don’t really care which side eventually prevails. Movies come out every year, and if I don’t like them I don’t pay to see them. But I’m endlessly fascinated with people who are hostile toward, and recoil with disgust from, manliness. Courage — untempered by ironics surprises later on that shake all the moral messages to the core. Resourcefulness. Ability. Individuality. Good old-fashioned rugged determination to protect those incapable of protecting themselves, and if possible to vanquish evil so it can never see the light of day again.
What is so wrong about that? Why does it rub so many people the wrong way? Honest to Pete, I’d really like to know.
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