Tag Archives: 1st Amendment

Frontier(s)

This is one of those films that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I absolutely love the new wave of underground French Horror films.  I would argue that the wave actually started with the Spanish film Them (2001), though it really started to take shape with the grossly overrated Inside (2004).  By that time you start to see many of the new tropes start to take shape, with homages to the home invasion films of the 70’s and creating a genre around them with the kind of gristly anticipation of Rami’s original Evil Dead.  One of the kind of weird tropes has been that of a pregnant female protagonist.  This film is not original in any of the devices that it uses, but it is one of the more prominent and popular films to come out of this film movement, probably because it is a hodgepodge of so many other famous and better films, and often tries to say so much that any meaning often gets lost to the audience.  One of the biggest reasons for this has to be the frantic editing pace that seems to be taken from a bad Michael Bay rip off.

One of the first things to note is just how much this film looks up to and tries to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973).  Unlike many other home invasion movies, this film is not about people breaking into the victims home, but more about trespassers in a strange world.  Unlike TCSM, or the much lesser House of Wax remake, these victims have been invited to the property under the guise of it being an inn so that they can be exploited.  To fully understand that this inn acts as a new state, as the victims are literally fleeing the city and the state, which has become a fascist police state that has come down hard on muslims/those of Middle Eastern decent.  While I do kind of shutter at that stereotype, the film is rarely if ever subtle and painting in the widest strokes imaginable.  The allusion here is to refugees that have been invited to a new host country only to be further exploited.  Since they are already refugees in France, the real message is that France, and as the obtuse Nazi references strongly imply, all of Europe has exploited immigrants.

The normal trope of chastity and sinful behavior causing death have a new place here, with the Muslim characters refusing vice at the hands of the Nazi inn keepers, as this now references to cultural assimilation and giving up more traditional values, though it is hardly only the inn keepers that are assimilating them, as the female protagonist is already pregnant.  Also interesting here is that the female is French and it is the traditional male that has succumbed.  I can only speculate that the reason for this has to do with avoiding controversy if the roles were reversed and a traditional Muslim girl were impregnated by a sympathetic French man.  This is an attempt to show that there is some solidarity with citizens against the state that resides with minorities, thought the film’s ending rather roughly contradicts this message.  The woman, after having killed all of the Nazi’s that have conversely killed all of the Arabs that she was running with, she then quite solemnly turns herself back into French authorities, maybe to protect the child that she was contemplating aborting at the beginning of the film.  To me this could only mean that at some level she is both accepting her place in the fascist regime, though I can appreciate the argument that because she is going to be in prison that she is actually sacrificing her own freedom in order to honor her friends that have fallen.

As with many of these types of films, there is a heavy emphasis on what one has to do to survive, and that violence is actually the lowest common denominator of what makes society and civilization tick.  Non violence, while preferable to violence, is always going to not withstand those that choose to enact violence on the nonviolent, and that as much as we may try to remove ourselves from that message, we always have to harden ourselves for the potential of defending ourselves.  She literally escapes death through a puddle of pig shit and blood, arising free yet changed from the experience.  Her turning herself in is in a way admitting to herself that even though she survived, that there are more out there like the Nazi family and that she is incapable of protecting herself and her child indefinitely, and that she does in fact need the state’s violence to protect her, though submitting to those terms is also submitting to their selection of suppressing the immigrants, to which her child has a heritage.

Ultimately the film suffers from being too literal and confused, much like the editing style that does keep the audience from emersion in the film, though with some many contradicting ideas and possible meanings, you can say that you will not have a hard time at least getting in the mindset the film wants you to get in, even if you can’t agree on a concussion.  Then again, that sounds very French to me.

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UnAmerican Football

A lot has been said this year about the NFL already, and very little of it has had anything to do with the game that is being played.  The first thing that is being talked about is Ray Rice.  I’m going to start there because we really do have to break this down piece by piece to understand just how much these recent dealings have affected our national way of life and understanding.

Ray, unfortunately, hit his then fiance in the elevator, striking her unconscious and then dragging her out of the elevator.  We knew this way back in February.  We saw some of the tape then.  I had seen the tape that everyone is so up in arms about then.  It was not some big secret.  Even if it was, Ray came out in his police statement and said that he struck a woman unconscious by his fists.  If I, as a nobody, can read that report online, then I’m sure that if you are a billionaire that stands to lose millions of dollars in endorsements based upon your player’s popularity, has somebody on the pay role whose sole job is investigating this sort of thing.  We all knew what he did way back then, but we didn’t have it shoved in our faces like in the current news cycle telling us how and what to think about it.

I want to be very clear in saying that I am not trying to defend what Ray Rice did.  I am an avid Steelers fan, and was never a fan of Rice’s.  On a side note, I should also probably point out that I am also not a Christian, and all the talk that Rice and former Safety/Guru Ray Lewis gave about football and God strikes me that these two men are wife beaters and murders, and how much religious piousness has lead these two to commit heinous acts despite all of their outward zealousness.  It stands to my reasoning that the more rigid and repressed your religious beliefs are, the more you are likely to act out when no one is looking.

Ray also does not deserve the hate that he is getting.  Working in investigation, I can tell you that the first time someone gets caught doing something wrong is very rarely the first time that they have ever done the infraction.  Though legally we can’t prove otherwise.  For all that any of us know from that tape, his wife was drunk, as was he, and spouting all sorts of vitriol towards him to which he responded without thinking.  That is not an excuse for his actions, but they are a description of them.  He was week, lacked self control and did something wrong.  I agree that the man should be punished.  If initially, he had been suspended for 8 games or the whole season, I would not have protested it in the slightest.

The reason that I am protesting this has to do with the mob mentality and the harm that this is doing towards victims of abuse.  Now, in terms of Ray Rice, his wife, who married him for what I imagine is for little more than money, is going to face the same fiscal cuts as Rice.  I think that she is a big girl, and capable of making her own decisions on the matter, and in turn, is being handsomely rewarded for her silence and support of Rice.  Hardly the face of abused women in this country, being paid millions for their silence.  Mark my word though, in ten or more years, when the man’s money has run dry, she will end up on talk shows talking about how scared she was for her life and how he forced her to support him.  I’m sure such details will be in support of her new book, for which she will make millions more.

The only reason that Ray Rice’s suspension was extended was because of the response from people, most of whom do not watch football.  Despite all of the negative press that all of this has gotten, the ratings for the NFL have stayed about the same.  They haven’t gone up or down.  The fans of the game don’t really care.  What this means is that with the NFL trying to expand past the primary audience of football fans and trying to incorporate a larger female audience that might contribute to those enormous SuperBowl ratings that we see every year.  That game is an event that has become larger than the sport it represents.  Since football is the largest sport in America, that game is all about this country, whether you watch the sport or not.  It is about watching the game, not who is playing.  I mean for most of us, our team will not be in the big game, but we watch because it is supposed to be the culmination of the two best teams in the league giving it their all for their chance at glory in the history books.  We love winners and closers.   Women play largely into the statistics of untapped potential supporters.

I also want to be clear here and state that I know that some of the most loyal football fans in the world are women, my wife being one of them.  I’m not going to belittle that demographic and suggest that there are not many of you that love the game and your team and know as much about the game if not more than I do.  What I will also say is that the women the NFL is courting right now is not like that.  These are the types of fans for which the New England Patriots, along with their color coordination and sexy quarterback schtick, have finessed them into the game.

This is entertainment that costs people in the real world.  For all of the big hits that we see, real people are being hurt, potentially ending their careers, abilities to support their families, or injuring them so completely that they have drastic health issues for the rest of their lives.  We have somehow made our peace with all of that, and so have the athletes for that matter, though an increasing number are finding themselves broke from overspending and not preparing for their careers to end when the eventually do.

The second aspect to this is the Adrien Peterson thing with his kid.  I have not seen the picture, nor do I care to.  Pictures rarely give an accurate portrayal of what they are showcasing.  I am also a firm believer that, for the most part, the state has no place in dictating how a parent raises their child.  For what I can tell, Peterson is actively trying to raise his kids.  I know that he has a bunch of them from a lot of stupid decisions that he should have learned from a lot sooner than he did, but he did have the will and resources to be a dad.  I’m going to dismiss the idea that he has a history of abuse because the first incident didn’t come out until the second did.  That mother was not worried about her child, she was worried about her pay check, or she would have gone to the cops a long time ago.

Now for the real question.  Does taking away Peterson’s ability to make money really help these kids.  I mean these mothers, who obviously were with him because he was rich and famous and got pregnant as a paycheck for life, are not thinking about the big picture.  They are going to rob him dry, and without him getting paid, the well will run out.  There will be no more money and I don’t see how that is in any way better for the children.

I have never been a fan of lynch mobs.  The more that you give in, the more that the demand from you.  Punishments are supposed to be balanced.  This conversation really isn’t about victims.  Social consciousness for this issue really hasn’t surpassed the idea that it is socially unacceptable and a hot button issue.  That is it.  People calling in talking about how they too have lost their temper and really yelled at their kids, as if emotional abuse was so much better.  We are marginalizing the issue and the intricacies of people and relationships.

Post Racial America

Here is just a thought.  I might be wrong, but my heart is int he hopefully right place, and if not, please feel free to start a discussion.  I won’t get into Obama and his racial politics and what that has done to this country.  We are all afraid of being racist.  Somewhere in the late eighties and early nineties, almost every sitcom on every network had the racism episode, that generally featured an all white cast (unless you were the Cosby’s of course) discovering a racist person and spending the rest of the episode to call out the practice and lament about a better future.  It was impossible to grow up and not be afraid of being racist, regardless of that one old uncle that would scream obscenities and talk about the good old days.  I have read a lot of online blogs calling out these old people dying as a positive thing that is the wave of the future.  The sooner these all racist assholes die off, the better the new world will be.

First allow me to point out that almost everyone alive has racial tendencies, no matter which race you are.  I tend to find, that at least in this country, the black/white thing seems to be the end all be all of racial thought, or the white and everyone else kind of idea, but aren’t these ideas in and of themselves racially motivated.  Most of us don’t even realize that most Asians don’t see themselves as simply such.  I mean, I wouldn’t suggest confusing Korean and Japanese people, as they kind of tend to hate one another.  Also, rather than the general black person, if you talk to an actual African person (read someone that was born in raised in the continent of Africa) they tend to take great offense to be lumped in with every other person from a place so large.  Africa is huge.  Maps that are greatly used in the West are greatly distorted, often affecting people’s world view.  Africa is much bigger than most people think that is, and there are a lot of different kinds of races and racial features that are seen within African society that aren’t even greatly picked up on here.  Because we don’t pick up on it, much like White has become this great cultural divide for lumping people and ideals together.

In this lumping of peoples, only 7% of all marriages in the United States are between couples from different ethnic backgrounds.  Consider that for a second, that after all the movies and racial things that we hear about in the media, after Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, and the 1960’s, only 7% of all marriages are between different ethnic backgrounds.  Now I imagine that this does not include people of Irish decent marrying people of English decent (my first marriage) or people of Mexican decent marrying someone of Brazilian decent (don’t you dare call them Hispanic) or someone from North African decent marrying someone from South African decent, unless that South African person happens to be White, then feel free.  Or unless that person from North Africa happens to be from Egypt, then lets just lump them in as Arab, though somehow this doesn’t seem to be the case with Sudanese people (also considering themselves to be Arabic in culture).

Race is all in the mind.  And what is worse is that largely in this country it is being driven by White people that have for the most part been in control both culturally, economically, and as majority share holders to the population.  And for the last fifty years or so, have been getting a strong dose of white guilt.  The trend that I find most alarming is that most people that try to make like they are completely devoid of racial motivation have dated outside their race, but still, statistics prove that overwhelmingly, they eventually settle down with someone from their own race and culture.  This would suggest that as much as we like to pretend like culture and race don’t matter, that somewhere deep within us, we really think that it does.  I am currently married to a foreigner that could not have come from a more different ethnic and moral background than my own.  There was a time that I thought that none of that mattered, but living with them, and having a daughter with her (due in May) there have been a lot of arguments that I don’t think would have happened if I had married someone that came from a similar background.  Now, while this hasn’t been enough to split us up by any means, I will say that it is something that we both talk about and is hard on both of us.

I have also noticed a trend in the people that end up marrying outside their race, that they have some sort of fetishizing or fixation on the race that they marry, and very rarely see them as just normal people.  The point is that people continue to see race and fixate upon it in both cases and the idea of racial blindness really doesn’t exist.  That being said, we are in a society that would have us ignore this and move on, though we have all probably been discriminated against at one point of our lives or another, which makes it really hard to compare with someone else having it worse or better than us.

Phil Robertson

I really have had a hard time with this one.  I really can see both sides to this one and I can also see why both of the main view points on this is completely wrong.  I should probably start off by pointing out that I am not Christian, but I am religious.  I am Celtic Pagan, and while I don’t want to go too much into my own personal faith here, because it really doesn’t matter in terms of who I am as a person, it scares me that someone claiming to have a faith is being viewed the way that it is being viewed.  I have absolutely nothing negative to say about gays of any sort, in terms of their lifestyle being a sin or what have you.  I really don’t care what people do in their own homes, and am in no place to judge about sexual propriety.  Pat would probably also tell you that I am going to hell as well.  To him, or at least to many Christians, all people, of all other faiths, that are not Christian are going to go to Hell.   That is what he believes.  I understand this idea that even though those were his beliefs that he should have kept them quiet because he represents this other company and that they have a right to fire one of their employees that does not agree with their company line.  But this isn’t somebody who is truly representing the company.  That is like saying that any of the other reality stars that the A&E network carries represents the network.  Mr. Robertson is not their CEO, and really doesn’t represent the company any more than the crazy cat lady from hoarders.

One of the first things that upsets me about this is just how little of an actual argument or a reflection of religious freedom in this country this ploy for attention is.  Consider just how much support the Duck Dynasty clan have received since the controversy.  The controversy would not have come about if there had not been consequences.  I mean really think about the average viewer response had he said what he said, the LBGT movement reacted like we can expect them to, and A&E simply been like, he is a religious redneck with a shotgun, deal with it.  Did you really expect him to embrace you?  I’m pretty sure that even fans of the show would have thought that was a little harsh, but because he was banned from the show, even if it was just on paper as he was reinstated just before new episodes that were filmed well before all of this so they would include the patriarch, will now be that much more advertised.  Because there was a reaction, that was well calculated to make him look like a martyr, sales of the Duck Dynasty merchandise has skyrocketed, and guess who owns all of that.  It is not the Robertson family.  What would have been an interesting campaign is if fans of the show actually boycotted the show, realizing that even though the t-shirts they were buying had the face of their favorite character, that in fact their hard earned money was going into the very pockets of the villain that fired the man they were trying to defend.

With that being said, once we have established that this is a commercial venture, and is being brought out inorganically to drive a divide amongst people without actually furthering the argument or actual thought, much like how abortion is talked about on campaign trails, not because any political figure actually has a shot in hell to affect the issue one way or the other, unless they are campaigning for a supreme court justice, which of course are appointed.  Why do politicians talk about an issue that they have no affect over (I’ve even seen local sheriffs talk about it)?  It is because they know that both sides are very passionate about the issue and they know that is a way to endear themselves, and keep the conversation away from they own record, or more complicated issues that most of our population doesn’t properly understand.  It is part of division culture, that we have to take sides with very little information, without ever really trying to examine the issues and a way to make them better for all involved.

So what is the religion debate in this country and how do I feel about it?  I agree with the first amendment.  I think that we as a population should be free to worship as we choose.  The problem with that, is that we are a country that is a conglomeration of a lot of different cultures, and there is a huge coloration between the two.  I also believe that there needs to be a separation between church and state.  It is the only way that a bunch of people from many different faiths can all not hate each other.  We have to be reminded of what we have in common, not constantly be forced to deal with why we are different.  I personally don’t care how or what you worship, but don’t want to be personally subjected to it.  There is a very annoying idea that I read about a lot concerning the founding fathers being Christians that would be rolling over in their graves that children are not allowed to pray in schools, and while I agree that many rights groups have taken things to an extreme, there is a reason for that.

Here is the point that we need to realize.  That religion can be offensive.  Religion is not PC.  Religion, if it intends to answer the question of where it is that we came from and connect that to where it is that we are going after we die, needs to be very, very old.  Ideals that might seem antiquated in modern society are the basis for what religion is.  While it might seem offensive, or against convention, but I think to put your faith into a religion, you have to take every aspect of that faith.  I hate the modern practice of picking and choosing what it is that you believe.  So many Christians that I know call themselves Christians, but they don’t believe in the parts that are against modern morals, and for us as a society to expect such convictions is wrong.  Religions are a bit racist, passing down old feuds and old societal rules that we can not properly judge without becoming a little bit bigoted for judging.

I recently read a post about the ACLU complaining about prayer for soldiers and how this evil organization was trying to take God away from men in uniform, who “obviously” need it going to war overseas.  I seriously doubt the ACLU would have become involved if their had not been some complaints from someone involved.  I served in the military and fought overseas.  I again am not Christian.  I was forced to sit through multiple prayers that were not even thinly hidden to be Christian in origin.  The only masking was as to what denomination that was being represented.  I would also like to inform you that as of when i got out in 2011, it was against regulations for the Army to hire Chaplains that were not Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, or Hindu.  That means that Pagans, Wiccans, and Buddhists were out of luck if they sought spiritual guidance.  I also want you to guess how many times the Jewish, Mormon, Hindu, or Muslim Chaplains were allowed to lead prayer during ceremonies and other mandatory formations.  While I fully agree with the purpose of having Chaplains in the military, and that there needs to be that sort of counseling,  the existence of systemic bias goes a long way to show the issues with religious rights in this country.  Consider marriage in this country.  There are many definitions of family in the world.  There is the homosexual argument, but think of Polygamists such as in the Mormon and Muslim faiths.  Consider that many Pagan faiths do not believe in monogamy.  Consider how state laws set up marriages, so that if there is any infidelity that can be proven that the other partner gets a huge pay day.  Consider that in terms of immigration, they do not recognize homosexual or poly relationships of any kind.  You have to be in a monogamous Christian outlined household.  Then you think about the Muslims that live in Michigan, who play the call to prayer loudly, early in the morning.  Many non-Muslims have complained.  Think about gay pride parades that are almost pornographic.  I have a lot of kinky sexual practices, yet I can’t imagine an I like to choke people parade for white heterosexuals.  There is something about the majority that scares people.  They should just have to deal with everything, and then, there is the backlash that the majority, Christian, white people have in the form of Duck Dynasty.  They are a majority of this country, and while you might not think that if you live in a big city on the East coast, there is a lot of room between you and California.

The point is that both majority and minority should been mutually respectful of one another.  Both sides need to realize that to be tolerated does not mean that the other side has to like them.  That is ok.  We don’t need to continually keep picking sides, because the more that we do, the more that we allow ourselves to be used by a system that doesn’t care about us or the issues that they are presenting to us nearly as much as they enjoy controlling us and keeping us divided for their own profit margins.