December 31, 2014

And to end the year…two 2014 movies and their impact on reality

Posted in Judaism, Pop Culture at 11:12 pm by chavalah

the interview I admit, I feel a little irritated every time someone (including relatives and ASOIAF author George R. R. Martin) gets on a bender about this whole “The Interview” business. Yeah, yeah, no one should trample on our freedom of speech to watch whatever movies we’d like. And it’s certainly abhorrent to threaten anyone with the atrocity of 9/11. But this all seems a bit trite in comparison to other ills plaguing our country and our world. Folks are pretty fucking lucky if their biggest grievance in life revolves around their inability to see a movie starring two of my tribesmen who embrace their poop humor, and Lizzy Caplan’s cleavage. (I’m assuming that low-cut top that she’s wearing while on duty as a CIA official doesn’t have much to do with character development. :P)

Granted, people don’t just have to be upset about the worst things that happened to them, or to society as a whole. I’m certainly disappointed by the rotten tomatoes score of “The Mockingjay: Part One”—and even though I full-heartedly believe that it explores complex social and political issues that “The Interview” wouldn’t even think to graze, lower ratings certainly don’t impact any real world issues of poverty and injustice. An interesting contrast between these two movies is that “Mockingjay”’s clout is within the story itself, whereas “The Interview” is all about external context—these hackers conceivably could have gone after any movie.

The rotten tomatoes score for “The Interview” is pretty abysmal—not that I always put a lot of stock into those, but I have little reason, given what I’ve read and seen in trailers, to believe that this movie really lifts its head from the sophomoric. I’ve read one or two defensive reviews that claim the movie educates people on the despotic regime that is in North Korea, but even without seeing the film I feel confident in saying that you could definitely find more thorough and reliable information elsewhere.

To a degree, “The Mockingjay” has an unfair advantage over “The Interview,” because it doesn’t chronicle a specific, contemporary issue. Though that also makes it easy to commandeer for any agenda—a slippery slope. Personally, my calm is affected when anyone ascribes the words “Capitol” and “Rebellion” to something like “Republican” and “Democrat,” or any international conflict. (Which beyond over-simplifying real world politics and history, also over-simplifies the Capitol and the Rebellion.) I appreciate more specific examples of poverty and oppression—eg Americans who use the hashtag #MyHungerGames to talk about how economic inequality has affected their lives. And speaking of movies being banned, Thailand did so for “Mockingjay” after some Thais used the story’s iconic three-fingered salute to protest their militarized government. Similarly, “The Mockingjay, Part One” opened in the US around the same time that the Ferguson protests against police aggression were heating up, prompting someone to spraypaint Katniss’s words “if we burn, you burn with us” in town. This was the bit of “movies meet reality” news that caught my attention before “The Interview” hoopla exploded in everyone’s faces.

Not to say that The Hunger Games is the only franchise that has inspired such deep thinking; it’s just one that speaks prominently to me. I hope that these books and films may inspire us to think about the world, and the type in which we’d like to live. Something I didn’t mention in my last post about “Mockingjay,” but in terms of Judaism the book, and movie one, make me think of tikkun olam, healing the world. Things may be broken, but we are surrounded by shards of goodness, if only we have the will to try and bring them together.

Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling 2015.


1 Comment »

  1. […] by misrepresentation of the messages in “The Hunger Games” is kind of my modus operandi. In my last blog post on the subject, I was griping about how while everyone was whining about North Korean threats/censorship of the […]

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