The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, August 11, 2006

Random Thoughts on Friday

1) My 2 1/2 year old son Jason has fallen in love with Brad Bird’s fantastic CGI adventure “The Incredibles,” so we’ve been watching it every day for the last week.  Wow!  What a fine, fine piece of work.  I noticed some things recently that made me chuckle, however.  Now, the following observation is NOT a criticism. 

By my way of looking at things, “Incredibles”, the story of a family of superheroes, is, well, Incredibly “Right-wing.”  That is, that one of (to me) the distinctions between the Right and the Left is that the Right tends to believe in the   individual creating the environment, and the Left tends to believe in the environment creating the individual.

The entire subtext of “The Incredibles” deals with the tyranny of mediocrity, that the most talent among us are hobbled by the need not to intimidate or oppress the least talented.  “Trickle-Down economics” for instance, is predicated on the idea that if you allow the top 5% more access to their profits, untrammeled by “excessive” taxes, they will create more, and everyone in the society benefits.  I make no comment here about  this particular theory, just that it is more often held by those to the Right.

Well, Mr. Incredible on several occasions specifically complains about his “Extraordinary” children (and indeed they are.  Wow!) not being able to use their powers.  In fact, the entire repression of the class of “supers” is placed on the backs of  small, stupid, weak people—who outnumber the supers, even though they need the Supers to protect them.  Note Mr. Incredible’s boss: a small, petty, cruel tyrant voiced by Wallace Shawn (the little guy who kept screaming “inconceivable!” in The Princess Bride.) 

And Dash, Incredible’s son, is oppressed by a short, frantic, somewhat stupid teacher.

And the main villain is a short, obsessive, cruel man-boy.  Hmmm.
But that’s not the main thing I noticed.  Here it is: all of the heros are genetically superior, with natural gifts that place them above ordinary humanity.  ALL of the villains (Syndrome, Bomb Voyage, The Underminer, and various thugs and thieves) are creatures not of genetic gift, but technology.  Without that technology, they are nothing.

This attitude that power is  bestowed by God and accompanied by equivalent virtue is fascinatingly WAY to the Right.  Man, I bet Rush Limbaugh LOVED the Incredibles.  On the other hand, so do I.  Hmmm....

2) Meditating this morning, I found myself wondering about the impact of conscious breath control.  Could it be that if we take a few minutes a day to consciously inhale and exhale, that we “free up” the eternally vigilant “breathing” portion of our subconscious mind, and that it is then available to do psychic house-cleaning?  I wonder.  I noticed that I had one heck of an internal log-jam (emotionally), but that every minute I consciously breathed, a few more logs disappeared.  Hmmm

3) There’s a new movie called “Step Up,” a dance film written by the same people who created “Save the last Dance.”  Now, “Save” was, to this date, the ONLY movie that has surprised me, and succeeded despite not just a black man being sexual, but an interracial relationship.  Truth be told, the relationship was almost totally off-screen, but I was willing to cut it some slack.  Exit polling revealed that about 85% of the audience was female, leading me to my first theory that the "black men having sex in movies"  problem was primarily between the males of the different groups: that males don’t, on the average, enjoy watching males of opposing groups having sex.
(Well, what of porn films?  I’ve been asked that many times, since interracial scenes in porn are quite popular.  I don’t have an answer I’d really be prepared to defend, but I do have one uneasy observation.  And that is that if we took the feminist premise that porn is about the degradation of women, the popularity of interracial sex would make sense.  In other words, watching a woman have sex with a black man is just one step up from watching her have sex with a dog, or a horse.  A disturbing thought, no?)
At any rate, “Step Up” is a version of “Save the Last Dance” with a white guy.  Here’s my prediction: it will have more sex than “Dance” and those lovemaking scenes will be more romantic and fully visualized.  Will any   reader who has seen both films please write in and tell me if I’m correct?

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