Monday, December 22, 2008

John McCain, Forgotten Man...

One of several random thoughts about the media in 2008.

NBS is currently having its Today Show year-end wrap up. They just named the Five Most Intriguing People of 200. They are 5 – Miley Cyrus, 4 – Tina Fey, 3 – Michael Phelps, 2 – Sarah Palin, 1 – Barack Obama.

After the rundown the hosts, Al Roker, Ann Curry, Meredith Vierra, and Matt Lauer, mentioned a few other names that were worthy of mention, including the Jonas Brothers, Beyonce, and Joe the Plummer. However, somehow there was not a mention of John McCain.

Elsewhere in the program Hillary Clinton had gotten some screen time, and the election itself was covered, but poor McCain, somehow, was the forgotten man this year. Older than all the other candidates (some might joke “combined”), not terribly charismatic, disabled, saddled with being of the party of one of the most embarrassing presidents in American history, and being unpopular among its hardcore base that had carried it to victory for the past three decades, the poor guy can't catch a break

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Role Models, the Greatest Movie Ever!

I am very, very glad I saw this movie. I cried.

It tells the story of two men in differing stages of arrested development who find themselves in a court-ordered position to mentor two young boys. Through this process, all four people find what they did not even know they needed.

I identified with three of the four people. I identified with one boy because he is a LARPer. He finds in the world of Live Action Role Playing a world where he can immerse himself and live out fantasies that are not possible n the real world, be the best that he can be, and ultimately find the confidence to grow up.

I Identify with the bored yuppie. He is really a wanna-be yuppie, who in 10 years has not been able to get out of a job he despises. He sees through the fallacy of pitching energy drinks while preaching against drugs and wishes desperately that he could break out of his rut. The darkly ironic world around him has given him a cynicism that goes beyond world-=weariness to true nihilism.

I identify with the Man-Boy. He sees the irony too, but in a benign way, doesn't care. He recognizes that the stupid, demeaning, morally bankrupt job he has pays his rent and allows him to get laid without ever having to put on a suit, or even shave. With few responsibilities, he is free to under-achieve, so long as he has fun and no one tells him what to do. He doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, he his happy within himself and blissfully unaware of the effect he has on those around him.

In the course of the film, the bored yuppie sees that there is opportunity to find happiness, by creating one's own world, and sharing it with others. People are imaginative enough to create shared fantasies, establish parallel societies in which one can be something that the “average person” may not understand. Although in the world of this film it was a LARP, for some people it is their bowling league, their stamp collecting club, or even political activism.

The Man-Boy realizes that making a connection with somebody can be more rewarding that hedonistic pleasure. Feeling the beneficial change you can bring to a person makes you feel like a worthwhile person, and betraying a trust that person has given to you is the worst feeling in the world.

The LARPer learns that if you can take a chance with one thing, you can take a chance with anything, and even if in one thing you don't succeed, in something else you might. Most importantly, though, he he realizes his dream of becoming king of his LARP, if only briefly, and then realizes his greater dream of kissing a girl he likes.

This movie also taught me a few things about film making. One cannot underestimate the importance of setup and payoff. Everything in the movie built up to a big payoff at the climax, and between identifying with three of the four protagonists, following the story arc, and understanding the motivations of all the characters, and furthermore, understanding truly why bringing a pickup truck dressed up like a minotaur into a LARP while dressed like the members of Kiss is true wish-fulfillment for me, all the comedy, drama, and emotion that had built up in the film, and in my life, came pouring out of my tear ducts.