Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Movies - are they entertainment?

The image of the Academy Award Oscar presented...Image via Wikipedia

I enjoy movies, mainly movies accessed through Netflix. I'm not crazy about movie theaters and haven't actually be in one for about 8 years - but that's another story. Anywho, I hadn't viewed for a while so took a comfortable seat, laptop on lap (logical) earbuds in, set to relax in front of one of the award-winning, have-to-see movies of the year, Slumdog Millionaire. I lasted 30 minutes......

First of all, I've been to India. It's been a loooooong time since I was there but over and above the beautiful sites of the country, the poverty was overwhelming for me then and I found it no less overwhelming in the movie scenes of children minding and participating in public privies, bathing and drinking polluted water, living in stalls and shacks. Also, the first opening scenes of the movie were filled with torture scenes, not (American as apple pie) water-boarding mind you, but nevertheless torture of a human by other humans! Taking a deep breath and thinking I could fast forward to the entertainment part of the movie, the straw/scene to break this little camel's back was quickly forthcoming! A train car unloaded with men armed with clubs set on bludgeoning mothers and children because they were Muslims, the delete key was in order for me!

Why is this entertainment? I am in agreement that it is a tool for awakening my heart to the world. I do not think that is bad, I think it's important that I/we not fool ourselves into believing that the world is all well fed and sitting back drinking bottled water. I have a hard time erasing either real or fictional scenes that portray prejudice, hatred, cruelty, poverty, deprivation, or war zone activity. Occasionally, I manage to sit through stories (you can check out my movie list) of this nature but can they, should they be called entertainment?

They make my heart and mind cry out to my Creator, why, why, why? I thank God for the Mother Teresas of this world and for organizations like ONE and the Episcopal Relief and Development Organization. But sitting in front of a screen and calling it entertainment - I think perhaps there should be a new category of Academy Awards called "Fictional Documentary -Entertainment Reality Films." I don't know. Am I just an ostrich with my head in the sand? What do you think? What kind of movie entertainment do you seek out? Did you see this movie and love it or hate it?
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  1. Oh Boy!
    SS, I too wonder what the draw is to these films and soap operas and well so much of our power and violence addicted entertainment. I wonder if always looking at the dark parts of life, doesn't act like a novocaine to the soul, self administered. I wonder too, that if we are kept so focused on the tragedies that take place in other lands, is it easier to diminish the tragedies that are right down the road.
    I don't believe we have to see torture to know that it is wrong, but I am not my brother. I often wonder when the young men in my family get together and talk with glee over the violence in a film, or the graphic nature of someone "being blown away", why is this, who are these?
    I wonder if, we keep telling ourselves "this isn't real, this is only a movie" it allows us to loose our sense of reality.
    I too have stopped going to movies.

  2. thoughts of response spinning around here. a simple answer will not suffice. i think we might have to talk this one over. i did see the movie. i believe it had much to offer. entertainment? hmmmmm...

  3. SS, I have another good friend who had the same reaction as you did and left the theater early on.

    For me, I think it is essential that movies tell stories about the shadow side of our culture in a way that allows us to face it in ourselves and then offers us some movement toward redemption. This is why the movie worked for me.

    As for whether a movie is "real" I would suggest that film and art can speak a deeper truth, one that isn't literally true, but true on a soul level. I guess I don't often watch movies to be entertained. I watch them to experience the human condition in a condensed way, much like a play can do, or a novel. I watch the have questions asked of me. A film that can help me to confront my own shadow in a meaningful way and also offer me hope that has been wrought from difficult circumstances, those are the really the only kind of films that feel worth watching.

    Certainly not every film is made in this way, much of the Hollywood industry is pure entertainment and much of the violence is a glorification. But there is also much art and beauty in film-making and the use of painful experience in a way that is integral to the story and experience of the characters.

    Can you tell that I love to watch movies? :-)

  4. darn that christine is good! if i had waited just a few minutes, i could have said "that's what i was trying to say."

    entertainment? i went with a friend to the theater on monday and saw "17 again." we laughed out loud at several points and had a gay old time. were there sad, poignant and at times disturbing views? (watching teenagers whether in real life or "fiction" often has that affect on me) even in this "light" film, the human condition was revealed in full spectrum.

    i make a distinct choice in movie selection depending on whether or not i want to be entertained.

  5. Wow, I feel like I hit the jackpot this a.m. with such beautiful responses about the entertainment or not of Slumdog Millionaire.

    BRUNO, Sounds like we're on a bit of the same wave length as far as novocaine and deadening the senses goes. I find myself saying "this is not real, this is not real" when I know the portrayal of something is SO real that my subconscious mind cannot shut it out once it has seen the violence or degradation. I worry very much about children viewing the gory scenes of both television and movies - it has to have an adverse effect upon them! Thank you as always for your forthright answer!

    CHRISTINE at the Abbey - you have such a way with words to make all seem so logical and worthwhile and I MEAN that is a compliment, NOT as a putdown. I am certain that the movie had its redeeming qualities and that the story line was a good one. Pointing out that viewing our dark side is not a bad thing, I agree. But it can certainly be disturbing, at least it is to me. I can tell that you do love movies and once more I agree that there is much beauty and art to the craft of presenting a story on the wide screen for the world. I might have to "grill" you before accepting any of your movie recommendations:))

    LUCY - oh yeah, that C is good all right. Way too much logic and sound evidence in her answers for the average bear to refute!.....anyway, I really do use movies for entertainment, so I am easily tipped over the edge when viewing something too, too close to my own experiences. Just watched JUNO because I thought I "should." Cute?....that's the way it's been described to me, cute it was NOT for me. Accurate depiction of teens, I think so, but more tragic than cute. I have a few thoughts on a couple of more movies that'll show up at the MindSieve this week. Stay tuned - whoops, you're going away....well, the comments aren't so great that you should cancel your trip:)!!!

    xoxoxo to you all, thanks again for filling my comment section with such prolific, profound and trustworthy statements!

  6. SS,
    As a youth, I looked over my back fence one day to see five bodies laid out, the result of an auto accident, I saw some neighborhood friends gathering teeth that had been strewn on the roadway, I saw seven people burn to death, running with their clothes and hair aflame, screaming, while the crowd gathered oohed and awed as if watching a fireworks display. In sixth grade a man stood outside the classroom windows, the teacher screamed, we turned in time to see him pull the trigger and kill himself. In junior high, I heard screeching tires and a bang, I went out to check the result, only to see a small sports car wrapped around a pole, I called the police and went back at their request to see if an ambulance was required, I saw a crowd gathered, talking about, not helping, the young man who was moaning "help me". (I lost it here and needed therapy) In my 20s I spent a thanksgiving holiday helping investigators at the scene of the brutal murder of my grandmother.
    I don't need or desire film to remind me of reality, and my fervent prayer is that NOBODY ever has to have these experiences or even in the most remote way experience these wounds. There is more, but there is only so much "reality" I can take in one morning.

  7. Bruno,
    Amen, amen and amen.

  8. Bruno - your sobering note is more than I hoped to ever hear from one human being's life experiences....confirming our suspicions that tragedy on the wide screen is too close to where we "live" or "have lived" in our personal lives to ever be considered entertainment. Thank you for sharing such personal tragedy with me and my few readers.

  9. Bruno, Sue and everybody - I'm not sure when RILEY hacked into my site but he seems to have the method perfected at this point. I've tried to get him out of the computer works, we'll see if I've succeeded when I sign off this note right now!!! That dog is way too human sometimes.......

  10. SS.
    Check your credit cards, Corky (our dog) has mastered ordering pizza on line. I think he has them remove it from the box and slide it under the door, The local pizza place allows the whole transaction to be done on line!!
    I just discovered he has email too!