Posts Tagged Love

The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways

Such as standing by when horrible things like this happen. Not just standing by but having front row seats and doing nothing.

It really is good to know that without a god and religion, people would have no morals and no way to tell right from wrong.

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Hate Is a Many-Splendored Thing

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Consequences of Apathy

The Huffington Post, every now and then as part of a PSA or something, dedicates a post to the “Faces of Drugs Arrests” – supported by Rehabs.com as a follow up to its anti-methamphetamine campaign “Horrors of Meth.”

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“Faces of Drug Arrests,” is a series of shocking images, depicting the decline of different “suspects” (suspects of what? drug abuse?)  physical appearance over the years via their mugshots. The individuals shown were all arrested for drug and drug-related offenses involving meth, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs.

The ugliest thing about this post is not so much the ravaged faces of these drug addicts, but the comments section of the Huffington Post where people admonish these individuals as “disgusting” beings who hopefully never have kids.

One commentator, who neither knows any of these individuals or their stories and backgrounds and thus their experiences and how they came to be where they are, writes quite presumptuously that “they no longer care where they are or whether they’re about to die.

Others casually “other” the people depicted in the images, commenting on how “irresponsible” it is of them, especially when “these people” have children of their own.

One reader had the following to say “There’s NO REASON for anyone to continue to abuse themselves to this extent – help is readily available pretty much everywhere. These types of addicts just don’t want to take the effort necessary to clean themselves up. Yes, I know that’s not the case with some addicts, but in these cases…..?” 

“They are disgusting.”

“They are irresponsible.”

“They don’t care.”

“They don’t want to make the effort.”

Yes, because clearly mentally healthy, stable people enjoy becoming emotional and physical wrecks as a result of heavy drug use. Because, thank the spaghetti monsters that be, drug addiction is not a disease at all.

No one in these comments has even noted the fact that these are mug shots taken from arrests, as in these people whom everyone is summarily dismissing, judging and spitting on as disgusting, irresponsible, worthless wrecks have been criminally persecuted and incarcerated for their drug use.

And neither does anyone – neither the HP article nor the commentators – find it either problematic or acknowledge the fact that drug addiction is an illness that requires medical treatment of those who are using drugs, instead of criminal retribution.

No one is wondering, or is the least bit bothered, that instead of health and treatment these people are being treated to prison instead. “Hell [typo and I am keeping it there] Help is readily available” one commentator casually states. When in reality, no actually, help is not readily available.

The fact that these people have been booked and charged with a crime instead of being sent to rehabilitation to treat their illness should have given you a clue. That, and that in this country trying to get insurance companies to pay for meaningful drug rehabilitation programs is almost impossible, not to mention that government-run rehab programs, as far as they do exist, are terribly funded, ineffective and hard to get into.

So no, it is not “readily available.” Where have these people been? Canada? Germany?

Most importantly, there is a human being behind every mug shot depicted in this PSA; a human being with their own life’s stories, paths and trajectories. No one knows what has taken place in their lives leading them to resort to drug use and the addiction that comes from it. To judge them as if one did is mendacious.

Sending someone who suffers from the disease of addiction to jail is no different than incarcerating someone suffering from cancer or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Moreover, since low-income and/or racial minorities are disproportionately incarcerated for drug use, this undertaking has, essentially, become another way of criminalizing the poor for being poor.

Now what if all the taxpayer money that’s used arresting, processing, trying, probably public defending and jailing drug addicts  were instead used toward social programs that would support such people in the first place? What if instead of jail time, we offered help? How about trying to find out what those ills were that got them into heavy drug use in the first place, instead of making this ridiculous, callous assumption that they are there because they enjoy being there, because they made that choice and because they devalue their lives?

Although I do wonder how people who have been outcast and thrown away by society as disgusting, irresponsible worthless wrecks are going to “love themselves.”

People in this country tend to criticize “government hand-outs” and talk about the social safety net like it’s a giant waste of taxpayer money—a “wealth redistribution program” to steal rich folks’ money and give it to the poor. And they do not see the moral failing in such an argument because the same people that talk about social safety net programs as being a waste of money have no problem seeing that very money be used to send sick people to jail (or support defense contractors, oil companies, corporations, banks and the wealthy in the form of tax exemptions etc).

Unworthy of Help

The thinking that one needs additional negative consequences for harming one-self assumes that whatever situation one finds one-self in is not sufficient consequences. Even if someone is in an incredibly terrible situation of their “own making” (which is an extreme oversimplification as no one lives in a vacuum)  somehow that’s not enough punishment in and of itself.

The thing I truly abhor about this kind of rhetoric and way of thinking is that even if, given the same set of circumstances, I or Joe Green over there, would have emerged differently than someone else: So what? Different people are different.

And even in cases where someone is in a terrible situation because of their own making and bad choices: So what? Why is that justification to not help them?

I fully understand the value of consequences for harming others. I will, however, never understand the alleged value of consequences for harming oneself.

This calculated, cultivated lack of empathy in our society for anyone who isn’t successful, healthy, wealthy and “wise”, is very disconcerting and quite visible in the face of every person in these mug-shots.

Love, empathy and compassion are necessities if we are going to make it as a peoples and nation. They are not luxuries.

I wish people who just casually judged, blamed and dismissed a person in peril like that, praying self righteously to their “God” that the drug addicts in the mugshots may not have any children, would, instead, pray to their “God” that these people who are undoubtedly suffering, get the help they need – which would necessitate voting for programs that aide such people as opposed to voting for policies and politicians that do everything they can to dismantle the programs that aide these people.

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The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways

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Review: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Dawn Wiener hated by everyone

If at the age of 12 or 13 you weren’t part of the popular in-crowd filled with perfect little miss sunshines, then you will appreciate what Dawn (Heather Matarazzo) is going through in this quasi coming age movie of a bullied junior highschooler. 

Welcome to the Dollhouse is about a girl in junior high who is as unpopular as can be. Everyone spits on her, from her school mates, to her teachers, her siblings and even her own parents. Every adult in this movie is an ugly human being and Dawn is caught amidst this ugliness, becoming one of its unfortunate victims.

No one likes Dawn; in fact, everyone hates her. When she asks one of her tormentors why she hates her so much, she responds “because you are ugly“.

That pretty much sums it all up, as all the people in Dawn’s life are mean to her and flat out assholes for no apparent reason. Her mother, her father, her brother, her teachers, her peers – and even her little sister whom I hated so much that in fact when she was kidnapped in the end I was actually hoping they had hurt her. Seeing a mere 7 year old be so mean already doesn’t leave much hope for the rest of us. Everyone, without exception, is mean and cruel to Dawn.

Sawing off Barbie’s head

I would not call this movie a comedy or particularly funny. It is actually filled with social commentary, is sad and while humorous at times, it is depressing to watch Dawn be surrounded by so much dislike and lack of love in her life.

The laughter that occasionally ensues is immediately muted by the completely bleak and sad situation Dawn is in. Even the  scene where she dreams she rescued her sister and everyone tells her they love her:  that wasn;t funny, that was tragic. This girl is so parched for love, she dreams it.

The director is very smart and knows what he is doing and he would never degrade this movie by inserting lame comedic relief in there. So the “humor” is not really humor, it is the sad theme strategically inserted,  underscoring Dawn’s plight, unhappiness and desolation. No wonder she is mean to those weaker than her, the girl doesn’t know anything else. All the adults in her life are despicable human beings presenting some of the worst qualities, so she can’t give what she never received.

There is one scene, after her sister has been kidnapped, where she tells her brother that their mom doesn’t want her to go to school today because she is afraid she might be kidnapped too, and her brother responds deridingly “yeah right“; exemplifying how worthless Dawn is made feel as her own brother doesn’t think she is even worth kidnapping.

“I hate you because you are ugly”

Welcome to the Dollhouse is a powerful movie; it is brutally honest and it will not sugarcoat junior high and being an unpopular-and-emotionally-abused 12 year-old experience for you.

The sad thing about it, of course, is that people really are like that in life. I could identify with Dawn in so many ways. When I was 12, I was wearing huge glasses and dorky clothes and didn’t fit in and just wasn’t popular at all and people in my school, including my teachers, made me feel worthless. I remember one time I was wearing a jacket with a big hood and this kid behind me in line slowly dumped his yogurt, spoon by spoon, into my hood while I was standing in line for lunch.

I guess director/writer Todd Solondz must have gone through similar humiliating experiences, which is why he was able to retell Dawn’s plight in such painful accuracy and so masterfully.

‘Today after school I am going to rape you

The ending is pretty strong as well because it is not a sappy, stupid Hollywood ending, but a real-life one. The character of Dawn, unlike the characters of many of the high school classics of the 80s that unduly idolize the school years – such as Sixteen CandlesPretty in PinkThe Breakfast Club and Can’t Buy Me Love etc. – doesn’t come out of age, or grows as a person, is now popular or suddenly finds the love of her life.

Nothing really is resolved or changes for Dawn. When she goes looking for her sister in New York and doesn’t come home at night, no one even notices she was gone. Her parents still treat her like dirt and mostly ignore her, she still doesn’t have any friends or gained popularity of any kind and she still looks in the mirror everyday wondering why everyone hates her so much.

A lot of people complain about the ending, stating that it has no resolution and that her circumstances donyt change. But that is the whole point.  As Thoreau once said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation“. Their plights go unnoticed and then they die. Most people who are treated like Dawn don’t become either a) happy, pretty, successful, fit, loved, tanned people or b) turn to a life of crime becoming the Columbine shooters. On the contrary, they just fade away, suffer through it and realize that in the end they can’t change anything; like Dawn at the end of the movie.

That is because in real life, there isn’t a happy ending at the end of the 90 minutes and sometimes people just aren’t able to rise above their assigned rung on the social ladder. I guess that is why so many people find this movie difficult to watch or dismiss it altogether.

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Review: The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9: “Triggerfinger”

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) protecting what is his

With this episode, it becomes clear that Shane’s mask of sanity is lowly slipping and that he has turned almost delusional with regard to Lori and the baby that he thinks is his. Delusional in the Fatal Attraction sort of way. He is starting to think that he and Lori really had something deep and meaningful going on during those couple of weeks where they thought Rick was dead and it looks like confrontation with Rick is going to be inevitable as Shane is slowly losing it. In fact, it looks like Shane is going to mix it up with someone soon and pull the trigger again.

Lori stuck in the car

 

Maybe it is the trauma that ensues from living in a world post apocalypse where everything you have ever known is gone or maybe it is because Shane has always been kind of an unstable, violent asshole and it is all surfacing just now that this thin veneer we call civilization has vanished. Whatever it is, Shane is “falling down” and it becomes increasingly more clear to everyone that they’re gonna have to worry about him just as they have to worry about Walkers. I used to root for Shane because what he said made sense and he had guts, but he has pretty much crossed the line into instability and psychosis and he will be dangerous.

As I write this, I realize how truly ridiculous and boring this show has turned otherwise. I mean, the main point of contention seems to be the love triangle and the otherwise petty quarrels of a bunch of people who seem to have missed the memo that the world has come to an end. As a result, the show has taken on a whiny, cranky soapy tone with zombies thrown in to appear original as soap operas are generally associated with a negative stigma of lameness and chick flick. The apocalypse and asking the tough questions have become secondary, if they haven’t disappeared altogether, to accommodate the Rick, Lori, Shane, Maggie and Glenn’s relationship problems.

At the same time, the remaining characters and their personalities have been moved to the background as we hardly ever hear anything from them anymore. At this point they all seem to be serving in a merely ornamental capacity or to move the storyline along, such as Dale who every now and then serves as a voice of caution to warn others against Shane, just so he can go back to what he was doing (whatever that might be),  or T-Dog whose role has been reduced to that of scene filler at this point. Or Andrea whose character and its agony, which had been so beautifully initiated, have been reduced to some one dimensional “extra” almost, loading dead bodies into trucks or running errands.

Carol and Darrell also always seem to be having the same “conversation” – and with that I mean Darrell throwing a hissy fit like a child who lost his puppy after a week’s search and don’t want loving nobody no more, calling everyone a “bitch” – while Carol gives him teary eyed looks or throws a line at him and walks away, just so they can resume where they left off the next time.

Yes I understand Darrell is hurt that the search for Sofia ended so tragically, but he’s been  just grunting into the camera for the past three episodes.  There is no development in his character.

Carol lost her husband and her daughter and is still seen just lurking around the camp, washing clothes and tidying up or alternately taking Darrell’s abuse. I mean we just saw her daughter turn into a Walker and have her brains blown out in front of her by Rick, and she is going about her business as usual. For whatever reason, she now has made Darrell her project and I still can’t figure out if she is after him in a motherly or romantic way.

“Triggerfinger” is 2 stars tops, mainly because it no longer really seems to be about the undead and a world ravaged by illness and thus the apocalypse. It is about peoples’ petty interpersonal quarrels; short sighted people who fight each other even after the world has gone down, over concepts that don’t mean anything anymore in this new world order (maybe that is the point?). I mean what happened to being worried about survival and finding some answers; what happened to driving through desolate landscapes marred from the apocalypse, encountering the destitution and horror in the aftermath of days gone by?

Glenn and Rick

 

Whereas season 1 and even the beginning of season 2 (i.e. before they landed on the “Farm of our Discontent”) were looking at the problem of a world ravaged by disease and having come to an end (note the flashbacks they had about how it all started), most of season 2 has unfortunately been about the marital problems of Rick and Lori and Shane’s insanity. How the apocalypse began, what Jenner said, the discussions they had about the human soul vis a vis such a horrific disaster, wondering whether this is even a world worth living in or whether there are any last outposts left and just the setting, which after all is one of zombies, have been muted. The show has lost its sinister, mysterious tone and zombie encounters are thrown in in a strategic manner, as if they were fulfilling a requirement and had to run down a checklist of necessary genre elements to put in before they can resume with their melodrama.

Where is the journey, the adventure, the terror, where is the desolate landscape or walking into other people (such as Vatos in season 1), human interaction, tragedy (Amy’s death, leaving Jim behind, Dale talking about his wife), finding abandoned buildings and landmarks.; making a connection with people and each other. I am interested in looking into this disease, asking the tough questions (see Jenner and CDC), not watch people engage in petty personal quarrels amid the damn fucking apocalypse. It’s like these people just don’t get that the world is over and that it really doesn’t matter anymore who is doing whom or who said what and when.

This show was phenomenal in the beginning, because it looked at the theme of the zombie apocalypse in a smart way that was never done before. It balanced drama with action, originality with believable writing and multi dimensional characters; it was tragic but without venturing into soap territory. It was great during season 1 because it struck the perfect balance between the interpersonal (i.e. the characters) and the bigger picture (i.e zombie apocalypse), thus illuminating the grander canvas if their tragedy, instead of looking st it from this narrow lens of interpersonal struggles of the characters.  Now it is all just about these people and their feelings. At this point you could easily replace zombies with the ebola virus or WWIII or a natural disaster or hey, even Melrose Place and nothing would change.

When you reach a point in your story where one of its main premises (i.e. zombie apocalypse) can be easily exchanged with something else (like viral outbreak or flood or nuclear blast) and nothing about the story and the characters within would change, you know you have met a dead end in terms of originality.

People who enjoy this kind of thematic of the Days of our Zombie Lives kind will be just fine and really like where the show has gone. But if you are looking for more depth and originality instead of cliches and predictable story lines, I am afraid you will be disappointed. I don’t care for Lifetime Television for women.

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Review: Blue Valentine – Like Slowly Digging Through Your Flesh to Get Out a Splinter

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

I doubt that this movie will do much for most people. It is drawn out, windy and stagnant. Yes, the critics are correct in their assessment: it was well crafted, well written and greatly acted – the characters were believable, multidimensional, and understood their parts intimately; it was a technically great movie, adhering beautifully to meter, rhyme and figure of speech – as Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. from Dead Poet’s Society in his book “Understanding Poetry” would say. But the movie left sort of a blah aftertaste in my mouth. I think that’s the case because it doesnt really have a plot or moves along, or even carries some kind of a meaningful message that would make up for its otherwise overly dramatic, whiny tone. For two hours you sit through this movie and really don’t understand what the bottom line is; what the commotion is all about and what these characters actually want.

Blue Valentine is a micro-dissection of a failing marriage that is filled with a lot of pain, tears and melodrama, which at some point felt exaggerated because the characters never express any other emotions. They are sad and gloomy all the time and no one knows why it has to be so darn difficult. The movie follows Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) falling in and out of love over a short period of courtship and childbirth, flashing back and forth from present to when they met.

Dean and Cindy unhappy, even when they were supposed to be happy

While the illogical nature of love is one of my favorite topics, here it feels pointless on the screen. Many weighty elements dont seem to be meditated on by the filmmaker, and one of the question that inevitably arises is Why are they Fighting? So ok, these two people got married young for the wrong reasons and now it is not working out for one of them. Why is that such a big deal and the end of the world and grounds for so much drama and gut-wrenching pain? It is not like they were the greatest, most profound lovers to begin with,  so why should we care?

After two hours of tedious back and forth, tears and drama, you still can’t see point.

The folly with Blue Valentine is that it never answers the most important question: Why? Why are these people fighting and why did they fall in love? Have they simply grown apart? Did Cindy finally realize she married him to get out of the house and not because she was in love with him? Or maybe they’re just insufferable people who have no business trying to love another person. None of these questions are really answered or even eluded to really. It just shows you they are sad and suffering, and sad and suffering.

Sure you can make intuitive guesses as to the source of the conflict, of growing apart, of the alienation, but there is no evidence for it in the story. There is just a severe disconnect between the flashbacks of a supposedly happier time between the two lovers and the dreary present.

This movie would have us believe that there existed some kind of a truly passionate, loving relationship between the two which, in turn, is making their separation from one another even more painful.

Cindy wants out

But the reality looked different. No passion, love and sincere feelings between the two are exhibited. All throughout the movie I kept wondering what one saw in the other and why anyone would think that they really loved each other as clearly Cindy didn’t love Dean. In fact, she is selfish, cold and unlikable and throughout the movie she seems kind of insincere toward Dean; like she was merely putting up with him and their child until the life she really wanted came along.

The two time periods shown in the film seem drastically far apart. There aren’t any scenes of the genesis of their relationship that point to the present turmoil, connecting the two disparate worlds. How, why, did they change so much and why did they fall in love in the first place?

These people got together for the same reason millions of other young people get together: boredom, the need for companionship, destitution or a desire to “get out of your parents’ house” under the belief that married live somehow holds the secret to happiness. Cindy and Dean are one of those people. They aren’t special, they didnt have a great love, nothing earth shaking that would make it to the “biggest love stories of all time” list. We simply have no reason to root for these two or care that their (mostly phony) marriage ended. In fact, I would be surprised if it hadn’t ended.

It’s crucial to good storytelling that there’s some explanation of what went wrong or the motives and driving forces behind the characters’ actions — and if not, it at least should be made clear that this is a story about how – in spite of no specific reason – sometimes these things happen. But not so in Blue Valentine.

If crucial narrative pivots are left too open-ended, a story is destined to lose its voice. While Gosling and Williams inhabit their roles fully, one quickly realizes that the failure to connect leads to the audience feeling lost, unable to empathize or fully understand why any of this is happening or why the characters are behaving the way they do.

I must also mention that Goseling was miscast He is being made to act and behave older than he can pull off and that beard of his looked like one of those glued on beards in school plays. Michelle Williams’ character was not very likable and in fact so selfish that it was hard to sympathize with her from the beginning – which is not the movie’s intention obviously. If a character portrayal evokes the exact opposite feeling in the audience than originally intended, you know something is off.

In summary, while well crafted, this movie did feel like slowly pulling hairs for no apparent reason. They stretched out a simple story and artificially created an elaborate drama for two hours over a subject that could have been resolved in twenty minutes of film time. In the end this movie was just as pointless as Dean’s and Cindy’s courtship, and eventual marriage.

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