Sunday, June 10, 2007


From a comment on the Golden Compass post below:
"Certain characters deliberately cause suffering and death to innocent victims, and it seems to me that the book excuses those crimes because they were in the service of a greater, noble purpose."

It is very true that brutality is such a common element of this world that we barely notice it. How many of the men Dirty Harry kills did he really need to kill? And how many in the audience really cares? While I am on the back of Clint Eastwood, I was gravely disappointed in Unforgiven. This film was a brilliant anti-violence movie... all up until the last five minutes when it suddenly turned 180 degrees and became a pro-violence movie, so the audience could revel in the brutal shooting by the "hero" of about ten men, most of whom were just in the room at the wrong time.

Two of my favorite books, at least in the past, are Battlefield Earth and Mission Earth, both by L. Ron Hubbard (yes, the Scientology founder, he was a good SF writer). But it is dawning on my how brutal the heroes of those books are. And both of those, unlike the Clint's tainted protagonists, are understood to be true-blue, total heroes, with blonde hair and square jaws and everything.

The hero of Mission Earth once murders a bunch of gangsters by gassing them in a garage. He kills several FBI agents ("nobody important") by blowing up a building. And he kills several attackers by kicking the faces off them with the bottoms of his football boots, which have metal spikes.

And the hero of Battlefield Earth saves the enslaved peoples of the known universe by blowing up the home world of the villain race, with a whole civilization of probably 30 Billion people. It is dryly noted that he found it "hard to take responsibility for that much destruction". Yeah, I imagine.

Indeed, not only are us Earthlings so used to violence and hate and conflict that we barely notice it, and fail to distance ourselves from it, but if you think about it, there is barely a "hero" tale told in books or films which does not include bloody acts of murder against the "villains" of the story.


Anonymous said...

Maybe aliens DO exist.
But if they're advanced enough to study us before making contact, we may never know they were there.

Anonymous said...

in my day, there were heroes like captain nice and batman and green hornet who captured the bad guys but never tortured them or murdered them.
i've seen the movie by eastwood, the unforgiven, i liked it but sadly mercy doesn't seem to be part of our culture today.
i spoke with a fellow just yesterday who told me that he gets a rush out of killing animals, a high that he apparently thrives on..........mercy is rarely ever displayed.

Anonymous said...

That animal killer guy must be horribly insecure. I don't know for mercy, but he inspires me great pity. Poor soul! He's more pathetic than his animal victims.

A real confident person is he who HELPS those weaker, "why? simply because I can".

To briefly analyze the principle, the "bully" abuses his power position to get comfort from seeing himself as the powerful one in a situation. The more extreme the situation he seeks and creates, the greater his unwittingly confessed insecurity.
While the helpful one is so confident, he doesn't fear that his power will be any lessened by sharing it or employing it for others, on the contrary.

It's all about how you see yourself, the Universe and God's purpose, to put it in religious/mystical terms. Do we see our existence as destroying everything else, which we perceive as alien to us? Or as building as much as possible, because we are part of it all, and any progress is beneficial to us in one way or another?

Terry, if you seek mercy, here's a tip on the place you have the best chance of finding it: look inside yourself. And then share it, because the more you share things like love and happiness, the more you'll have. Some things ARE in unlimited supply. It's mathematically proven.

Anonymous said...

And then share it, because the more you share things like love and happiness, the more you'll have. Some things ARE in unlimited supply. It's mathematically proven.

I do believe that Pascal. I seek mercy before the Lord''s throne. Not that I deserve it only because of Jesus' blood will salvation and mercy be brought unto me.
I have sinned greatly in my life agaisn't mankind and the animal kingdom. I repent and will turn away from my wickedness.
Mercy and peace go hand in hand in my opinion. By showing mercy perhaps I'll obtain mercy as well. I'd rather love people than be at odds with them. I'd rather be forgiven but I need to forgive others who have harmed me.
The other night I cried myself to sleep over being alone and losing my ex-wife and losing my mother to a grave illness.
I had cried so hard the next morning my eyes were swollen and I wore sunglasses to conceal them.
But younger brother commented that he himself had never cried that long, but it's just me I guess.
I have begged my Lord to send a woman into my life like the ones I have truly loved unconditionally but as of yet it hasn't happened, but I'm not complaining. I'm not throwing a pity party either, I just think that being alone all the time is the worst thing in the world.
Some can handle it, others can't. Suicide crossed my mind but I couldn't do it because it would rip my children's hearts out.
Sorry I went on so long about your comment Pascal, but this was on my heart. You and Eolake are my friends I think I can share my feelings with my friends.

Anonymous said...

Your first paragraph makes me think that you did not understand Unforgiven (not The Unforgiven). That last scene was necessary, and the movie could not really have ended any other way. I'd suggest watching it again.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I respectfully disagree. The movie was actively preaching against killing, and yet it clearly pandered to the audience's expectations of, and lust for, and big shootout in the end.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the whole point of that shootout was that this, in the end, was who he was - a man of violence. You may be right that they tacked it on to reward the people who had paid to see a shoot-em-up Western and didn't get it (not really), but that is not how I saw it. I thought the whole thing was leading up to this from day one. He tried to be someone he wasn't, and as sad as it is he was still and always would be a man of violence.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That was certainly the message. But I believe that people can change, and I thought until then that this was the message of the movie, it did not show otherwise.

Also I find it failed the audience by not giving any hint that he *failed* to change, or that his choice was wrong.

Eastwood said later that he had considered how many films he had made where he was shooting people, and he was now seriously doubting the value of it.

Anonymous said...

It showed how he had failed to change, right from the start of the movie. It may be true that people can change, but he didn't want to. He tried to for his wife, but once she was gone he jumped at the chance to get back to what he loved. He never wanted to change, he just hated that he'd got old. As for whether his actions were wrong...that was summed up in his last lines, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." That's the key to the whole movie. Or, if you prefer, use Hamlet's line.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yeah, it could be that I just couldn't imagine a message like that.

Anonymous said...

"Eastwood said later that he had considered how many films he had made where he was shooting people, and he was now seriously doubting the value of it."

This man is hugely different from Charlton Heston, who wants firearms to increase in real life.
I have respect for Clint E.

Anonymous said...

Pascal, I think you may be misrepresenting Charlton Heston. He, and the NRA in general, don't necessarily want more arms. Rather they want people to have the freedom to acquire arms if they choose to. They campaign in order to provide an opposing voice to the advocates of gun control.

It is a pity that Heston isn't very good with words, and as a result came out badly in Bowling for Columbine. I like Michael Moore, but to be fair, he should also have talked to someone who could have properly argued the case for Second Amendment rights.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yes, you can argue for both.

In the West Wing, a republican said to a democrat: "In reality, you simply don't like people who like guns!"
Well, yeah! :)

ACIM philosophy says that there will never be peace until people have inner peace. I think that's true. No legislation, for or against guns, will ever make more peace or freedom.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that the NRA are being extremist about it. And I admit Heston is in part responsible for my opinion! I mean, they had Bush abrogate a law that limited sale of WAR weapons to civilians.
You say he defends freedom. I feel he advocates excessive freedom and doesn't care about the consequences of his radical positions. Viewed from outside of the United States, such worship of firearms is inexplicable, and it feels to the rest of the world that the Independance War is nothing more than a convenient excuse.

It's one thing to have the right to defend oneself, and I'm with it. It's another to have a whole country worshiping firearms, with great ease for a psychotic to purchase one. That Korean guy in I-forget-which University umpteenth shooting? Schizophrenia, clear as day. I admit I have a good level in Psychiatry, but still... It shouldn't have been the least bit complicated to diagnose him and deny him a license to own lethal weapons!

The argument of criminals risking to be the only ones having weapons is biased: many people who have weapons BECOME criminals, in extreme circumstances, and if they are given them enough opportunity to act before thinking it over. The Wild West mentality only leads to an arms race where there are no winners. Apart from those who SELL the stuff. Can you guarantee me that the USA only allow bearing a firearm to people who are proven responsible about it? 1% dangerous people is already asking for a LOT of trouble. I've grown up in Lebanon, I've paid to know.

Ideally, the only ones who should be given the right to have weapons against criminals are the forces of law. In an ideal world...

I don't expect the USA to one day prohibit owning a firearm. I don't even ask for it, it is an opposite extremism. What I yearn for, is that the near-anarchy prevailing today ends. I crave the day when mentally unstable people can no more just buy an arsenal and leisurely plan the optimally efficient slaughter of many completely clueless civilians.
And I dream of the day when it is no more blamed on videogames, exactly like sex crimes were one day blames on pornography. Which has been proven to DECREASE criminality by providing a harmless outlet, satisfying all those who would seize any chance NOT to cause real harm.

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said for that Texas town that legislated mandatory gun ownership for every head of household - there hasn't been a murder there since this was instituted. I can't say I'd want that for where I live, but it's something to think about.

I enjoyed chatting with you about Unforgiven, Eolake. I don't think we are going to agree on our interpretations, though! :-)

Btw, I was reading that you are interested in spirituality. Have you ever heard of Tom Harpur? You might his books "The Pagan Christ" and "Water Into Wine."

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, I'll take a look.

The book "The Disappearance Of The Universe" has a very fresh view on Jesus and spirituality.