Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Movies and WYAIWYWW

Morris Massey made his fortune peddling the idea that what you are is where you were when you were 20.

Before age seventeen most kids have little awareness of the outside world. Life is all about their friends. At age 17, kids start thinking about a trade or college or getting drafted. Their focal plane expands outward and they flail around trying to make sense of what is inherently senseless and chaotic.

After age twenty, the concrete in our heads set and we become much more resistant to new ideas, new world views. We need to be exposed to Significant Emotional Events (another term he coined) in order to liquefy the concrete and MAYBE we will change our minds.

He claimed that we are joined by common experiences and that those shared experiences and values define a "generation". People who came of age in the 1930s, for instance shared a common set of values. Ditto for those who came of age in the 1940s.

The advent of big media changed that. The loaf of bread was sliced thinner as one cohort came of age watching All in the Family, another watching M.A.S.H. and a third watching Hill Street Blues.

Two movies from that WYAIWYWW period in my life were One Flew Over the Cuckcoo's Nest with Jack Nickolson. Another was Sophie's Choice with Meryl Streep.

The basic storyline of Cuckcoo's Nest is that a renegade finds himself in an insane asylum and does not fit in well. The head nurse, Nurse Cratchet, is a control freak.

The Trump Presidency makes me feel like we are reliving the movie with Trump as McMurphy, the Deep State as Cratchett and with Deplorables as "Chief". I hope Trump has a better ending than McMurphy.


The "Choice" in Sophie's Choice is that she has to decide which of her children is to be shipped off to the concentration camp and which child she can keep. (Spoiler, neither child ends up surviving).

Sophie's Choice is a gut-wrenching movie which is probably why it is not perpetually available on cable. Seeing it once is about all I can stand.

The unfortunate thing is that Sophie's Choice has some great messages embedded within the Significant Emotional Events. It is a movie that todays uber-liberal twenty-year-olds would be well served to watch.

At one point, Sophie is telling Stingo (the narrator) the backstory about her fall from belonging to one of Poland's elite, bourgeois families to becoming a refugee in post-war Europe.

Sophie's father was a professor at Poland's premier University. He espoused everything that the NAZI party promoted, including forcibly taking all Jewish wealth and "The Final Solution". Sophie's husband was one of her father's most cherished students and a virtual clone of his thinking.

They welcomed the NAZI invasion of Poland and expected to become stars in the occupied, Polish government.

Instead, they were plucked up and cast into the concentration camps just like the Jews, Roma, Jehovah Witnesses and other "unreliable" people.

Somehow, the fact that Totalitarian governments ALWAYS ruthlessly weed out any factions that MIGHT compete with them totally escaped Sophie's father. He saw himself as an "insider". Those on the inside saw him as potential competition and acted accordingly.

Pluralism
The big take-home for the current twenty-somethings is that today's path away from pluralism means they are more likely to find themselves standing with Sophie's family at the rail siding waiting to be deported to the concentration camp (or kneeling beside a freshly dug pit in the Katyn Forest) then to find themselves invited into the halls of power.

"Yeah, but Trump is the NAZI!!!" I can hear them bellow.

In spite of what you may have learned watching Harry Potter movies, calling something a name does not change it. The NAZIs are the ones who silence all dissent from their narrrative and meticulously organize things to the nth degree. Trump is a disruptor, not an organizer. He seems to enjoy chaos and dissent.

A NAZI would not have delegated any power or control to the State level during the latest Covid-19 issue. Trump was criticized for delegating too much.

Calling Trump a NAZI may be emotionally satisfying for some people, but it is not even the correct phylum much less species. You have to look elsewhere to find the NAZIs. Hint: They wore masks before masks were mandated. Another hint: They micro-managed the C-19 crisis to punish political rivals and provide spoils for supporters.

6 comments:

  1. That, Joe, is a great article.---ken

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    1. Thank-you, sir.

      With Belladonna living with us as she restarts her schooling, I am privy to a ringside seat on how younger people think.

      It occurred to me that I had experiences that were opaque to her. That is, we arrived at different endpoints because we started from different places.

      Perhaps we could communicate better if she watched a few movies from my wet-concrete period and I watched a few from her's.

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    2. another movie I recommend to them is Cabaret". It is a not too distant mirror.--ken

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  2. Excellent discussion and thought provoker!!!!

    Cuckoo's nest is a story of a man who could not fit in. Sophie is a story of desperately trying to fit in. Cabaret is about making choices, either selfish in nature or not. That is what they all are about: choices.

    I think with changing times the notion of being what you were at 20 has softened quite a bit. We see far more opportunity these days than ever when I was in my 20's (early 1970's). My caveat is that you have to be willing to stretch your comfort zone to change your path. I is easier now than it was back then. I suppose that a lot of this is due to the every changing technical world we live in.

    We stare down our own limitations and failings when we are 20 looking for a path to take and usually it is the easiest one that is taken. This does not mean that there are no rough spots on that path but few have the emotional temerity to take the roughest path at the git go. Many can keep going when a rough patch is hit. Some cannot and end up failing.

    One aspect of the character of Trump is that he has had to start over several times staring down a rough road not ever sure of where it would lead but willing nonetheless to take it. I would guess that 'easy' is not a word that Trump uses without intimate knowledge of what the opposite of that means.

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  3. I too could only stand to watch Merle Streep once. I did it in the Bridges of Madison County. Thanks to its director, it was a passable movie. But no thanks- I don't care to watch any more of her films. I am self-distancing from all communists.

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  4. I agree, it’s not possible to watch the commie “actors” anymore. The gag reflex triggers immediately.

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