The Hunger Games And Children: Who Should See This Movie?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The Hunger Games premise is not for the faint of heart: children are offered up as sacrifices to appease the central government gods who control 13 districts. [See more about an explanation of the movie in Part I of my Hunger Games Series.]

Here are the tributes:

You’ll note that some are babies. And, in fact, in a wrenching scene one of the youngest of them dies a brutal death. And the protagonist Katniss Everdine gives the child funeral rites even though she is a competitor.

The kindness in the midst of the brutality causes a riot in the dead girl’s district.

It is a lot to take in for an adult. For a child? Well.

Not all children should see this movie. In fact, children under 10 – 12 shouldn’t see the movie no matter their constitutions. There is some good reasoning here as to why.

One of my older children (14) is especially sensitive and won’t be seeing the movie either until it’s on a small screen, the movie can be stopped, and the issues explained. Also, the books must be read first.

My twelve year old daughter did see the movie. She’d read all the books and didn’t seem to grasp the horror of forcing children to fight each other to the death.

She sat curled into my arms at a couple points during the movie. Seeing is believing, evidently.

While the filmmakers did their best to minimize the blood and gore, the graphic nature of kids breaking necks, stabbing and slashing, poisoning, etc. disturbs all but the most detached.

The books are actually more graphic and distressing. As I shared in my previous post, I was so sickened by the premise that I put the book down.

Many books deal with children as protagonists in life and death situations — Lord of the Rings (in the books the Hobbits were coming of age), Ender’s Game (6 year old protagonist), Black Beauty, Lord of the Flies, etc.

Children read these books, evaluate them, and process them on a different level. Their lack of life experience is a help here. In books, one imagines what one has experienced and apply it to the reading.

The movie gives no such room. The violence is there to see.

There is great risk watching the movie Hunger Games of becoming the voyeur watching the reality game. The American audience, especially, weaned on Survivor, the Bachelor, etc., can be immune to the human difficulty and suffering.

Children are used as pawns and killed while, as a friend stated, trying to hold on to their humanity. This is a subject only the more mature can process. Beware of robbing your child’s innocence with this movie.

If you doubt your child’s ability to handle it, wait.

[More about the cultural relevance in the next installment.]



The Hunger Games: The Wrong Conclusion [Part 1]

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Nothing written about The Hunger Games movie is right. Why? The movie isn’t right. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.

It didn’t occur to me while watching the movie, but when I read Ed Morrissey’s review (meh, derivative) and then this Socialist’s site (best movie ever), I knew something was wrong with the movie. And when I read this Psychology Today review, I knew something was wrong with the psychologist and our culture [More about that in another post].

People who saw The Hunger Games saw a different movie depending on whether they read the books or not. On the optimistic side: most teens read the books. On the pessimistic side: most parents had not. This lead to two very divergent perspectives on the movie.

The Hunger Games trilogy books describe a dystopian, post-Civil War future where the central government is rich off the backs of twelve districts of slaves. The central government uses technology, coercion, and laws restricting any form of self defense (no guns..no bow and arrows, even–thus Katniss’ hidden, handmade bow and arrows).

The central government controls by dividing commerce. There are agrarian, fishing, and in Katniss’ case, energy producing districts. Katniss’ father died as a slave in a coal mine to produce energy not for his business or his employer but for the government who would then redistribute the commodity in just enough measure to keep work going to meet the needs of the other districts and to keep the central district in the luxury they were used to.

The oppression, lack of ownership, lack of right to bear arms, lack of free speech, lack of freedom of association, and the central-command misery induced by this situation were never clearly spelled out in the movie. Those who read the books, filled in the blanks. Those who didn’t, took home an entirely different message.

As one liberal reviewer said it, “This is a movie about the 99% and the 1%.”

Uh no. This book was about the oppression of communism and the failure of redistributionism. It was also a book about self-determination and freedom. These are all very American concepts.

The personal despair caused by the oppression really wasn’t fairly portrayed, either. Peeta fed a starving Katniss (a little CGI work to show her emaciated would have been helpful) at great risk to his own life due to reducing his ability to trade on the black market. His mother would beat him.

After Katniss’ father died, the family was starving. Her mother had completely lost her mind. Collectivism creates individual misery.

Meanwhile, the central government was indulgent: a combination of Elizabethan England, coked out models, and crass material excess. Their entertainment was Roman gladiator meets reality show spectacle where children fought to the death as tributes to “peace”. All the districts, including the central one, offered up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as tribute and penance for their warlike past.

The premise of the book was so horrifying to me, I had to put the book down. My daughter, in contrast, seemed strangely unbothered–until she saw the movie.

And the horror of it all would is compounded by no context. If it isn’t made clear what the characters will be fighting against, it’s difficult to grasp their desire for freedom. That is, if they’re free and just down on their luck, that’s a different story line. If rich business owners in each district controlled all commerce, that would tell another story.

That would be the storyline the left wants to promote–thus, the 99 and 1% reference.

Critics and fans of the movie must read the books. Without the story, what is a pretty good movie already, becomes an excellent, and scarier, movie. They’re not tough reads and they’ll give the needed context.

Whether it was intentional or just lost on the cutting room floor because of film length, more attention to the foundational why of the story would have helped.

In the next post, I’ll talk about whether children should attend the movie and how to talk about your kids who do go to the movie.



Oscars: All About Boomers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Who ever thought that the Boomers would kill the youth culture? They’ve managed to.

It’s all old-aged melodrama now. Reality doesn’t apply to Boomers. They will not get old.

Shhh…don’t tell them, but they’re old.

I don’t necessarily mind that people are reassessing their activity level and what it means to be old.

Still, the self-indulgence of these folks is grating. Perpetual adolescence by an entire generation is lame.

P.S. Where was Jack Nicholson?

Also, why the Grammy’s were better than the Oscars.



Inception Prologue Comic Book Online | /Film

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Cool! I hope this means there will be a prequel and sequel. This movie is begging for one.



Inglourious Basterds: Part II

Friday, August 28th, 2009

For another perspective on this movie, I suggest reading John Rosenthal’s review titled “Inglourious Basterds: A German Fantasy, Not a ‘Jewish’ One”. Rosenthal posits that the movie is written to make the Germans look sympathetic, and the joke is on the buffoonish Americans–who are neither cultured nor competent and barbaric to boot. The movie glorifies German fantasies of vengeful Jews, when in reality, the Germans were the barbarians. One wouldn’t know this watching the movie, according to this review.

While Rosenthal makes compelling arguments and may well be correct about Tarantino’s motives, I would suggest that Tarantino was too smart by half, then. Consider the barroom scene. Repeatedly, the Americans and their fighters expressed frustration at being stuck in an underground bar because it is stupid strategically in a fight. They feared being double-crossed. Here is what Rosenthal says:

This is especially true of a long central scene that takes place in a basement bar in occupied France. The scene is entirely built around a German parlor game in which each participant is required to guess the identity of a real person or fictive character whose name has been written on a card and stuck to his or her forehead.

Well, that game is one I myself have played as an unwashed American. We called it Polish Poker growing up–a politically incorrect allusion to a source of a version of the game, I suspect. At any rate, it was the Brit who botched the hand signal and also the Brit who enjoyed his drink courageously before his death–stiff upper lip and all that. It was also the American, who, at the end of the bloodbath, out maneuvered the German soldier who mowed down anyone left alive, including, it looked like, his own compatriots. It was a gory mess that ended as the American feared.

Another point of concern was portraying the German enlisted “hero” as regretful. Rosenthal says:
“They include not only the jovial enlisted men in the barroom scene, but also, for instance, a celebrated and lovelorn sharpshooter who openly regrets his military exploits.” While he did seem a little sickened by his actions, he was certainly still portrayed as evil. In the very next scene, when his advances are rebuffed by Shoshanna, he threatens rape or worse saying “no one denies me” and then, after being shot by her, shoots her in cold blood when she shows concern for him. It is the Jew, as symbolized by Shoshanna, who hasn’t lost her humanity. The German is portrayed as having none. While this might validate the modern Germans’ thinly disguised anti-semitism by seeing her shot dead, it certainly doesn’t portray the German perspective in a positive light. To the contrary, the Germans are portrayed as vicious, anti-semitic, heartless, yes cunning, killers of women and children–from the first scene until the climactic end.

There is no question Tarantino indulged in a facile portrayal of Americans. Bumbling in, direct action, hicky accents, etc. But still, the Americans and the good guys won. For all the German ostensible heroics, they are still portrayed as losers. They are losers who go up in a ball of flames. They are losers who are branded as losers on their swastika carved forehead.

The suicide bomber reference was also not lost on me. Tarantino, as I wrote in my other review, is hardly courageous. In fact, like his comrades, he’s a product of Hollywood’s amorality. He won’t name current tyrants. He has to go back to World War II to find blood thirsty villains. That is why I suggested substituting an Islamofascist for every Nazi killed.

As to the bloody gore: No, I didn’t enjoy seeing a guy’s head bashed in. In fact, I covered my eyes at the over-the-top gruesome parts and there were many. It was a Tarantino film after all. The blood lust is a caricature and silly. Still, it was satisfying to see the bad guys come to such an ignoble end. It would have been a wonderful thing had World War II ended in such a glorious way. Unfortunately, Hitler got the satisfaction of controlling his own death. At least, historians can fantasize about a better end.

Did Tarantino make an anti-semitic film? Was he trying to portray Germans sympathetically? Perhaps. Americans aren’t stupid. They’ll catch the way Americans are portrayed. They’ll see the suicide bomber reference for the inversion it is. They might miss the underlying German fears of Jew revenge. Or, if they get it, they understand the Jews motive, even as most Jews have lived among their German brethren peacefully without recompense. It is, after all, a fantasy.

What sane, moral person can’t understand the desire to avenge their family, culture and people nearly being blotted out? Americans get it generally. And so do Germans. The Germans know how they’d feel if the roles were reversed and that’s why they’re afraid even after all these years. And the Jews have been models of restraint and forgiveness. I’m not sure I could do the same.



Inglourious Bastards Basterds–UPDATED

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Inglourious Bastards might be Quentin Tarantino’s best movie so far. As expected, it’s full of gruesome violence, gratuitous splattering blood, and revenge fantasies. For the subject, it’s all to the good: Nazis die.

Tarantino has some messages for everyone though and they aren’t politically correct. First the trailer. Here are some of the lessons from the movie:

1. Enhanced Interrogation works: The reason William Wallace from Braveheart fame was so remarkable was because he didn’t break. Nearly everyone, eventually breaks. When one gets a bad guy to spill the beans, good guys get saved. It ain’t pretty. But sleep deprivation, psychological discomfort, and in Tarantino’s case, a public head bashing are very effective means of extracting information.

2. There are bad guys. Now, in this politically correct world, only the Nazis may be used as bad guys. Don’t mention the barbary of Native Americans or current slave traders, or Hugo Chavez. Hell, don’t mention the barbaric acts of actual barbarians–the Barbary pirates. These days, the only acceptable bad guy is of German extraction. Anyone who is labeled “bad” is labeled Hitlerian. For fun though, when you go see the movie, just put an Islamist in the place of the Nazi. Every time. Just imagine a freedom hating terrorist biting it hard. It’s profoundly satisfying. If Tarantino were really that edgy, he’d have chosen a more relevant bad guy, but in these times, naming evil is passé.

The movie wins points artistically. The dialogue amusing. Among the blood, guts and nonsense, the story pushes forward with anxiety-producing anticipation.

What made me love the movie most, though, didn’t occur on the screen. The packed theater that made my vengeance-loving heart glad.

So, Americans still hate villains. Americans still want evil doers to pay. After years of mushy, morally ambivalent tripe like Crash, a movie comes out that’s pure good and evil. Well, not so pure. Because war isn’t pure. It’s messy, bad things happen, good people die and sometimes the best soldiers are just this side of normal. Righteous vengeance though, is satisfying. People want evil, innocent-killing psychos to pay–preferably with their lives.

Primal? Uncivilized? It’s pretty to think so. More like, normal people recognize that tolerating evil encourages evil. You know, like the Iranians who repeatedly raped a young boy who defied the Iranian leadership during the protests. That evil.

So, while I’m still waiting for Quentin Tarantino to show some real courage and portray the monstrosity that is Islamofascism–the psychotic Muslim element who carry around Mein Kempf for moral encouragement–I’ll take what I can get. And right now, a movie where the bad guys get incinerated is profoundly satisfying.

It’s nice to see the good guys win. It’s nice to see the bad guys suffer and die. I’m hoping that Inglourious Bastards starts a trend. Now, to choose a more timely enemy.

P.S. Brad Pitt is hot. And the way he says “Nazis” makes me smile. I’m saying it that way from now on. Nat-zees.

P.P.S. This is why I feel no shame about vengeance fantasies. There is no death painful enough to balance the inhumanity of what some evil bastards will do in the name of their despicable cause.

The moral equivalence crowd can shove their sanctimony up their collective ass. There are people right now who loved seeing Americans die in the World Trade Center. They relished it and still do. The Lockerbie bomber, Al Qaeda, the Taliban all glory in their death cult. No reasoning, no gentleness will change their black souls. Just as Nazis felt justified in their abject cruelty, so do the Islamofascists who carry out their modern mission of freedom killing violence.

The only solution? Kill the killers.

After reading Rachel’s post, I’m going to screw up my courage and go visit the site of the Twin Towers. Even though just typing this post makes me angry enough to cry at the injustice, I will see it. And when I go to Germany, I’ll do that heinous visit, too.

There is a reason America continues to fight this pesky foe. It’s us or them. Let it be them.

UPDATED AGAIN:

Actual, real live Inglourious Basterds courtesy Winston Churchill. I love him even more:

Some were in the Brigade – a unit set up by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1944, made up of more than 6,000 volunteers. He said: “It seems to me indeed appropriate that a special unit of the race which has suffered indescribable treatment from the Nazis should be represented in a distinct formation among the forces gathered for their final overthrow”.

The following year, the Brigade was in the front line for the Allies’ final push against the Nazi menace and worked with the rest of the British Army in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Official orders dictated that any Nazis captured should be interrogated, not executed. But the revenge squads within Brigade ranks had other ideas.

Go read the whole thing to get an idea of how the Nazi hunters exacted justice.

By the way, to the liberals out there: Was World War II a revenge fantasy? Because technically, the European theater wasn’t “our” war. I mean Germans didn’t attack us. And that war cost a lot of money. And hell, we still have troops stationed in Europe. I mean, it’s like totally a waste, ya know?

I do not regret that America took the war to the terrorist murderers. A sense of moral outrage should determine foreign policy. Barack Obama’s bland indifference to the people of Iran is telling. Should we go to war there? That can be disputed. But what cannot be disputed is that Iran is a totalitarian, fascist regime that wants to exterminate a whole race of people. IT IS EVIL. To not be affronted by their disgusting philosophy and actions is to show indifference to innocent, freedom-loving people.

The left resisted efforts to get involved in WWII. They didn’t want to see the atrocities of Japan, Germany and Italy, especially, because it didn’t fit their never ending selfish narrative.

Either freedom or tyranny is on the march. It is never static. And freedom must be bought or lost.

UPDATED:

The U.S. declared war on Japan December 8, 1941 in direct response to being attacked. Revenge? The next day, Germany declared war on the U.S. FDR offered monetary support to the British, stepping away from neutrality before this. However, one could argue that going to Europe was taking the fight to the enemy. Perhaps America should have simply played defense. It was not as though Germans were storming Manhattan en masse.

Also, for the “brown people” straw man argument: By defending the Iranian people against their psycho tyrant, I’m suggesting defending “brown people”. What did the war in Iraq become, if not a defense of brown people against Saddam Hussein and his sons and minions? What was the war against Iraq to begin with but a defense of the brown people in Kuwait?

Good grief. There’s evil people of every color. That racism card, though, that trumps everything.

UPDATED AGAIN:

In praise of the Bear Jew:

An old friend just attended the wedding of Eli Lake’s younger brother. I wrote my friend:

Do me a favor, really. Shake Eli’s hand and say thanks to the “Bear Jew” from another Brooklyn Jew, me. He did it Brooklyn style, the way I grew up. Some may have f**ked with me, but none came away unhurt, and never did again.

My old friend sent me this email:

Bruce,
I read your email to Eli and his parents- they all loved it and
that led to the handshake pictured here.

Also, I wrote a follow-up review of Inglourious Basterds here.