An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Aliens’

The Meaning of Life in a Nutshell

Hypothetical situation: say that an alien race comes to Earth.  They have vastly superior weapons and technology.  Immediately, the employ these things to violently attack our species.  Humanity is left with only two choices – fight and probably die, or surrender, and become slaves to these aliens.  And, for the sake of this situation, say that you are one of the people who chooses to fight.

Are you really going to care what the person standing next to you, fighting until the bitter end believes?  Will you care if this person worships Allah, Jehovah, or nothing at all?  Will it matter to you if the person is a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative?  Will it be so incredibly important if this person is a man or a woman?  Will you care if this person seeks solace in the arms of somebody of the same sex?  The two of you are probably going to die just the same.

Think about it – you are facing the end of your entire species.  There is nothing outside of this.  You no longer can afford to let the petty prejudisms of this world dominate your thoughts, because it is almost over for us.  It’s the twilight of the human race, and nobody can stop that.  There is nobody coming to save us.  We stand alone.  Or do we?

The answer is no.  The true meaning of life is something that I have pondered for some time.  While others will choose to believe that it is something petty, like worshipping God or loving America, I see it as something much more profound.  The irony is that the predominant faith of America’s savior agrees with me in this regard.  What is the meaning of life – to look out for each other, because we are all we have.

This is something that soldiers have figured out in foxholes, getting shelled endlessly.  When they are in that place, trying desperately to survive, I guarantee you that the last thought that is going through their mind is whether the guy next to them is Christian, or their breed of it, or whether or not that person is into other men.  They have never thought about that, because all they could count on was the person next to them.  It’s ironic that in the most bitter of situations, humanity has found an ability to bond like never before.

When a huge tornado spree absolutely destroyed a large part of states like Wisconsin, you could hear the sound of hammers, the sawing of wood.  People of the community came back together, to rebuild what they had lost.  There is some great truth to that.  Truth that the leaders of this country will never seem to understand.

It’s easy to see why they don’t.  Take a look around, it’s everywhere.  The Democrats and Republicans both try to divide the people of this country.  They talk about all the things that make us different, all the ways that we are not the same.  They will point out how people need to be afraid.  Always trying to fracture and divide the people, so that they can steal the wealth and keep their power, and never be accountable to anybody.  This has been true of this government for about as long as it has existed.

But the truth is, the meaning of life is to look after each other, because we are all we have.  There is no God coming for us.  There is no eternal bliss after this.  You die, and that’s it.  But together, we can make this life the best life we have ever had.  It wouldn’t be hard.  All it would take is a little dedication.

We need to stop these pointless feuds between nations, which are forever trying to further a game of money and power that nobody wins, and almost everybody loses.  We need to abandon the outdated and absolutely worthless traditions that are holding back progress, such as the belief that a woman shouldn’t have the right to her own body, and the faith that brings that to the front.  We need to look after the least of us, which would mean having the wealthiest of us be willing to give their fair share.  It’s not asking too much for the richest 1% to pay more.  We don’t want to bleed them dry, but something like a 3-10% increase in taxes isn’t unfair.

There was a rather brilliant quote by Stephen Colbert about how things work in this country –

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.

That’s well-spoken, and from a man who has lived in the realm of comedy, and satired the way things in this country are.

In the end, it isn’t about you and me.  It is about all people, in all places, trying to survive.  Because there very well could come a day where it is only us, or the enemy out to destroy or enslave us.  And hopefully, by that time, we haven’t ruined our world beyond the realm or redemption.  Hopefully, by then, we have learned that we are all we have, and its time for us to start looking out for one-another.

That is the real meaning of life – making things better for everybody, and making this world a better place.

Peace out,

Lefty

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The Failing of Modern Cinema

There is a pattern that is emerging in film these days.  It is a rather tragic pattern, and doesn’t give enough respect for the people who have come before.  It is a pattern that honestly gets on one’s nerves, if they share the same views.  It seems to happen with a lot of great filmmakers these days, and it should be discussed more, because honestly, like every other element of culture, what one sees when they look back on cinema is important.  However, since this is all subjective, many may not agree, but the fact is that this does need to be discussed.  The great failing of modern cinema is that it doesn’t seem to take its audience very seriously.

Take a look at a lot of the movies that really bring in big bucks these days.  Anything by Michael Bay will do.  He is one of the great masters of believing that the cinema audience is nothing but a bunch of slack-jawed idiots who don’t care what is in a film, or what they are looking at.  But then you get the people like James Cameron, who has a really bad habit of making some very good films, like Terminator or Aliens, and then turning around and making over-the-top crap like Avatar.  There are films who tend to just believe that their audience is completely blind to everything but gorgeous effects.

To Bay and Cameron’s credit, both have created films that are visually gorgeous.  As much as I hated Transformers, and all the subsequent sequels, I will give that these films looked great.  The robots looked cool, and the battle scenes, if they could actually hold the camera steady for a second and not give the audience whiplash, were pretty awesome.  But, both Transformers and Avatar suffered from the same thing – not taking their audience seriously.

If the success of filmmakers like Chris Nolan and Pixar animation studios has shown us anything, it is that people can actually handle very complex characters and interesting plots along with visual stimulation.  Nolan remade a comic book character from the ruins that Joel Schumacher left it in after Tim Burton was ejected (for no good reason).  He made it into something almost exclusively for adults.  The Dark Knight was a film that only adults could truly enjoy.  Children would probably be terrified by the psychoticness of the Joker, and the violence was a little much for kids at a lot of points.

And a lot of people have made the arguments that, with kid’s movies, that they are for kids, so they shouldn’t be so serious.  This argument is a complete falsehood.  Pixar has been able to create intellectually engaging films for both kids and adults.  WALL-E had some great themes attached to it, like our over-indulgent culture, our dependence on machines, and our lack of accountability and our desire to take the easy way out instead of making the hard decisions.  And a lot of kid’s movies have done the same.

The Secret of NIMH was one of the most visually beautiful films that was ever made.  Everything Don Bluth did before 1990 was amazing.  After that, well, nobody knows what happened.  It also had an incredible storyline that is regarded by many fans of animated films to be one of the best.  This is another problem that a lot of great filmmakers have.  They start out wanting to take risks, to do their own thing, and after they start to make a lot of money, they become part of a culture of slackers who take the easy way out.  Don Bluth is the perfect example.  It was like he realized he had a lot of money, so he didn’t care what he created anymore.

Now, while Pixar was mentioned, it should be said that Disney has a back and forth problem of creating really arresting films, like one of the most perfect forms of visual poetry ever made, Fantasia, to their straight-to-video or dvd films, which won’t be mentioned here.

And the same thing happens with filmmakers for the older audiences as well.  Take a look at M. Night.  There are two M. Night Shyamalan’s.  There is the first who made The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (probably one of the most underrated films ever made), and then there is the one who made Signs, and every other film that followed.  Here is a guy who seems to have just forgotten what people want to see.  One could argue that Steven Spielberg had the same thing happen to him.  After Jurassic Park, very little of what he did has consistently been good, although there are still some unsung heroes of his, like AI, which one could argue is one of the most thematically brilliant films that has been made in a long time.

The fact is that film creators have an obligation to the audiences to actually take what they do seriously.  Great film is becoming a harder and harder thing to come by.  The market is swamped with bad films now that straight-to-dvd films are becoming a huge market, although there is the occasional diamond in the rough in that market as well.  And it has been proven that audiences like to be emotionally engaged.  They like to be shown that we have enough respect to believe that they want to see a good movie.

The audience isn’t as stupid as Michael Bay believes them to be.  At least, let’s hope they’re not.

Peace out,

Lefty

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