The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Basic Instinct 2 (2006)

Warning!  Sambo Alert!

We all knew this one was a loser.  The original was a delirious fever-dream of male-female combat, two killers (Micheal Douglas and Sharon Stone) locked in an erotic dance where either of them might die at any moment.  It had a sleezy charm to it, and a genuine erotic sizzle.  Well, this long-delayed sequel isn’t as bad as I’d feared…about the level of a decent direct-to-video movie, but man oh man, I understand why it bombed.  Sharon Stone looks great, but she is simply paired with a British actor of no power or authority.  Not for a moment do we believe them to be equally matched.

Worse (for me) the movie opens with Stone rocketing through London being digitally pleasured by a black soccer player as she drives.  Of course, the car goes off a bridge, and the poor Negro dies a dog’s death.  Sniff.  Who didn’t see THAT coming? 

At any rate, the film contains a tiny bit of interesting violence, some appropriately nasty sex, and no real entertainment value at all.  I want my two hours back.

The power went out yesterday, a rolling blackout said to last until three pm today.  So I went out and got some dry ice to keep the food cool in the refrigerator.  Then…the lights came back on, and I ended up using the stuff to cool my office, and to entertain my son Jason.  He’d never seen the stuff boil water…which is way cool.  He’s going through some kind of emotional/intellectual growth spurt, and I think the (mostly) Spanish-speaking ladies at his day care may be having a bit of trouble communicating with him.  Of course, maybe he’s just being stubborn and fractious, but we’re looking into alternative daycare.  Maybe preschool—he’s about ready for it…
Some delicate conversations going on on the radio about Israel.  You know, the history of that region is sufficiently murky that I feel like I couldn’t get the truth from anyone who is either a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim.  Sad.  I wonder if anyone knows a Middle-East tome written by a Japanese Buddhist?

While it seems to me that Israel can overreact, God, I sure understand how that can happen.  They ARE surrounded by people sworn to kill them.  That kind of stress produces some pretty bad behavior, and I feel terrible all around.

I remember when I was on publicity tour for LION’S BLOOD, and a man came up to me and asked me if the Muslim background of the book meant I thought Israel had no right to exist.  I had the odd sense that this man was a bit unbalanced, and that my answer was more important than logic might suggest, so I thought carefully.

And what I came up with was this: if there was one other country, anywhere in the world, that was Jewish, I might doubt Israel’s right to exist.  But there is no other place.  Literally, then, nowhere for Jews, as Jews, to go where they are in control of their own fate. If we tell Israel it has no right to exist, we are in essence telling them we don’t care if they live or die, and the only reasonable response is for them to say “screw you.”  There is an imperative with all living things: survive.  And after WW2 and the horrors of the Holocaust, it is easy to see that the Jews needed a patch of ground that was theirs.  Should it have been THAT patch of ground?  I cannot say.  Entirely too ignorant. 

It is quite possible that that was a flawed decision.  But now we’re stuck with it.  I pray, I really pray, that there is a way to peace.  The entire Middle-East situation reminds me of an awful, lethal, dysfunctional family argument.
Unfortunately, I feel that this Administration will have more difficulty than most maintaining any kind of neutrality.  We’ve lost a huge amount of any moral highground in our current actions, including Abu Gharib and Guantanamo.  With those, and the invasion of a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, it is ENTIRELY reasonable for Arabs to doubt our intent.

Further, there has been too much talk of the Christian God in our White House.  This creates a problem as follows: a President, as a political leader, can speak to the Theocratic leader of a Muslim nation.  But when that President wears his Christianity on his sleeve, well, you have to ask what he really thinks of Islam, or Judaism.  Doesn’t he really HAVE to consider Muslims just flat wrong in their beliefs?  Doesn’t he HAVE to consider Jews wrong, sort of like Alzheimer-ridden parents who got you started in life and then lost their way, misinterpreting the signs?

This lack of neutrality would almost HAVE to create misunderstandings…and that is assuming the very, very best of intentions.

But…supposing that about 10% of human beings don’t have good intentions.  If they are encouraged to think of themselves as Christians first, political creatures second (and I’m not saying this has happened) wouldn’t some of them have downright contempt for those of other beliefs?  Wouldn’t that affect any plans for, say, re-structuring governments?  When you think you will be greeted as liberators, and are instead greeted with a vicious insurgency, don’t you have to wonder if someone had thinly-veiled contempt for the Iraqi people, thinking that they would be happier to have an occupying army (from their POV) on their soil than we Americans would be?

That kind of miscalculation can come from thinking we are the pinnacle of creation, the ones closest to God.   I can’t help but think that there is real, serious danger in having Conservative religious zealots…of whatever stripe…in charge of political maneuverings.
A thought on Global Warming.  While no one can say for CERTAIN what is happening with climate change, it is increasingly clear that the majority of scientists are concerned with anthropogenic warming.  That doesn’t make them correct, but it does lend an interesting tone to the conversation, when one hears people suggesting the opposite.

I remember twenty-five years ago, during the Nuclear Power debate.  I noticed something: most of the technical people, the engineers and physicists, were in favor of nuclear energy.  Most of the opponents were Leftists, with inferior academic credentials, or high academic credentials in areas only tangential at best.  Many of those in opposition struck me as good-hearted environmentalists who were acting more from an emotional than an intellectual basis.  I remember talking to some Conservative friends at the time, telling them that I’d pretty much come down in favor of nuclear power based on this observation.  I was applauded for my perspicacity.

Well, the shoe is on the other foot now.  Virtually everyone I hear doubting Global Warming is way over on the Right.  The clear majority of anyone who would seem to me to have a real academic, scientifically based opinion believes its happening. There are many, many intelligent people in opposition to this notion: but most of these are in tangential areas at best.  The exact same situation, in reverse.   

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