The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction

Tonight's episode was written by Harlan Ellison. In addition, he (and his co-writer Josh Olsen) have a cameo at the end. Should be a don't-miss.
You know, all those years reading Jonny Hart's "B.C." comic strip, I always thought he was joking. Then I came to discover that he was an evangelical Christian who actually believed that the earth was only 10,000 years old or so, and that humans and dinosaurs were contemporaries. Blew my mind. It also disturbs the living hell out of me that about 30% of the American public believes this. WHAT??? I'd thought those percentages were far, far lower. And we wonder why America is lagging behind in technology? And our overall academic scores are sinking in comparison with the rest of the industrial world? Only 5% of Americans who describe themselves as "scientists" believe this (thank God) but it implies that 95% of our technical folks are coming out of 70% of the population. I do not, in any way, believe that those 30% are stupid. I DO think that they are viewing the world through coke-bottle perceptual filters, arguing backwards from a premise downloaded into their brains before they had control of their logical faculties. Before you (or I) point the finger, though, you'd better ask: and what belief systems got layered into MY brain that I have never really examined, that distorts or filters every piece of data I've processed since childhood?
I think that racism, sexism, political extremism, religious intolerance and so much more relate to this. Whatever we were programmed with before the age of 12 has to be dynamited out by adulthood.
So when someone asks me "what can be done about racism?" (in, for instance, movie-viewing choices that impact box office for certain images) my real reply is that time will do it. Two things will make a tremendous impact on racism: When no group has a simple majority, and when 80% of white males born before 1950 are dead. Sorry, guys, but the natural human tendency to think "we rule and you drool" is powerful. People only change when they can no longer pretend the world revolves around them.
Saw "War" with Jet Li and Jason Statham yesterday. A pretty good idea, marred by muddy direction, but still intertaining. And no, Jet Li doesn't do a ton of martial arts stuff--he says he's done with that, and I can understand why. At his age, it's probably not a lot of fun to train hard enough to get into the kind of gnarly shape it takes to make, say, "Hero." But this re-working of "Yojimbo" about an FBI agent (Statham) chasing an assassin (Li) who killed his partner, certainly has its entertainment value. Li sets out to pit the Yakuza against the Tong in a bloodbath that certainly could have used a John Woo or Antoine Fuqua level of visual style. No such luck, but I finished my popcorn and enjoyed myself.
The movie has one black character, who dies protecting the white guy. The sad, sad thing is that that movie's director is black. The rot runs deep, folks.


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