Wednesday, September 29, 2010

32 Months (part two)

So many questions about our culture have arisen since I've become a parent, things that I never thought about before. That's what comes from giving a damn about the future and what kind of world will be around when we are gone. I mean, there are always reasons for us to care and there were people in my life that meant enough to warrant my concern but I was completely content with my simple existence and thoughts about tomorrow were often just not in the equation. It's a selfish mentality and one that is absorbed in our society on a frequent basis and it's gotten to be so damn infuriating.

Eventually I married Christina and this deep-seated selfishness expanded to include another. Then I began to study and practice Buddhism, which has as one of its important tenets the idea that our lives don't exist in a vacuum, that our happiness is tethered to the happiness of those around us. We cannot live comfortably and appreciate our existence if everyone else in our environment is miserable. If crime is rampant in our society then we will live in fear and our lives will decay. While if people are helping one another, sharing with their neighbors then the quality of life for everyone expands and blossoms. It's not a complicated message, one that most religions employ as a basic philosophical understanding of its faith, but it is one that is completely at odds with what drives our economy. When I began to put someone else's importance up on the same level as my own importance, which is basically the only way a partnership or relationship can work, that's when my heart began to grow and I realized how I had been unhappy for a very long time.

Well, now I have two beautiful children and there are three other people who I must elevate to equal importance as myself in order to have a cohesive and wonderful environment within my home. So I've begun to look at everyone in my family through that rose-colored tinted perspective and it's wonderful and amazing to view them with such love. My heart grows every time they enter the room. My capacity expands every time Quinn asks me why (trying so hard to temper my aggravation when she asks it fifteen times in a row). My smile widens when Lucas shows me how much he's learned in only a day. The heart of the family is a fabulous bubble to envelop yourself within, warm when it's cold outside and tender when life wants to tear you down.

I guess the true gift of being alive is to immerse yourself in this type of feeling as much as possible. I could have done it when I was single, instead of working the system or taking advantage of others, thinking that I was getting nourishment by sucking down their essence with a straw while giving nothing back. I don't really know why I didn't, not sure where I got onto the wrong track but it doesn't take a whole lot of encouragement once you look around at the world around us. Greed is an enormous monster in this culture and the root of our problems probably lie in how we simply take it for granted. That's just the way that it is and we've been told the lie for our entire lives about the majestic wonder of it all. Yet, once we accept it as a given then it becomes a part of our soul...GREED, a guiding principle in our life, in our society, regardless of the waste that it causes.

I don't want that to be the legacy that I leave for my kids. I don't want those lower instincts to control their lives. I'm afraid to think of my little girl making decisions based on the hunger aspect of her nature. Knowing her, she would probably come out fighting and striving and making quite a name for herself...but would she be happy? I'd much rather show her how to use her wisdom, to tap into the delicate heart of her compassion and bolstered with the dynamic courage that she already possesses, have her change the world with a gigantic smile on her face. And what a smile it is.

We have an obligation to the children of tomorrow, always have whether those children belong to us or not, because the lives that they live are the result of our commitment to this existence. Everything that is going on in the world today is a testament to those who came before us. The mire that we wallow in is due to the fact that too many people didn't care enough about us to matter. Sure, there are things that I appreciate and when I think about my mother and father I want to hug them and cherish them, but there's too much ugliness in this world and now that I am a parent, it's becoming so damn obvious that I can no longer pretend that it doesn't exist. We can't simply close our eyes and wish it away. We have an obligation to make it go away.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

71 Months

There are a few certain films that I really want to watch with my kids; Star Wars, Time Bandits, Blade Runner, mostly a bunch of cool films from my generation that may be lost in the distant past. I guess I really want Lucas and Quinn to grow up with a deeper awareness about the fine nuances of cinematic gold. I'm sure there will always be wonderful new films that become iconic flavor for their generation and I'm one who values the creative expression within the achievements of film, so I look forward to taking that journey with them but, I don't know if it's simply to keep a small part of my youth alive or to boast so dramatically like every other aging generation has done so, part of the journey will be one that descends into the past to marvel at the wonder and cheesiness of film from the 80's.

First up appears to be E.T., Steven Spielberg's ode to the ethereal childlike imagination in all of us. I've been a strict curator toward the media input that enters our children's brains. Most of that is due to the rampant violence that permeates our culture and the level of degree regarding when a young person is prepared for some of that violence. I could care less about a film that has too many fucking curse words, such as Pulp fiction, though also very violent, or one with that is too sexualized, though many films of that nature tend to be fairly violent toward women with its steamy depiction of lust viewed strictly through the lens of male prostratial incontinence, as well as anything that may be misconstrued as having an adverse effect on the mind of a child, like psychedelic interpretations of our worldly perspective brought about through various alternative lifestyles against the status quo, also often put alongside dramatic and violent expressions upon the silver screen, which is why we must be vigilant protectors when it comes to what we allow our children to watch. So I guess that brings me all the way back around to E.T., which wasn't violent in any way whatsoever, not that I could actually recall when I was forced to think about it ahead of time.

Well, It turns out that I should've been more concerned about whether or not it was a movie worth passing on to future generations regardless of content. Seeing it all of these years later, it's very apparent that it's just not a very good movie. Sure, it's entertaining for kids and it does capture a sense of wonder about the way we look at the stars, but it's just pretty poor filmmaking, all in all. Story arc is very clich├ęd with sappy dialogue and cheesy special effects. The animatronics of E.T. are pretty good but there is so much potential in this idea that is dumbed down and diluted that it all comes off as a pretty sad display of filmmaking.

But let's be honest. Steven Spielberg is really not a great filmmaker. After watching this movie, I began to think about all of his other films and I realized that he essentially makes movies for kids. He really catapulted out of his fame from Jaws and Close Encounters, probably his two most honest films, into a realm of watered-down fun-filled escapades for the delight of the masses. Yeah, I really liked some of them when I was fourteen but once you view it through a critical lens, it becomes very apparent that most of his movies lack a little something, a soul perhaps. Even his very serious films that garnered him so much respect in the shielded world of Hollywood (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan) are almost unwatchable more than once because it's easy to see how contrived they are and don't get me started on Munich, his other serious film, that is probably one of the worst movies ever made. Cheap and generic are two words that come to mind when I think of Spielberg now and for many years, I have avoided his movies at all cost.

Well, I guess I should remember that guideline when it comes to his older films as well because I did have some intention of seeing Raiders Of The Lost Ark, one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, with my young ones. The question that rises from all of this is whether or not most of the movies from the past are worth unveiling once again or whether we should simply let them fade away into the amnesia of the forgotten past? We are bombarded year after year with an endless display of movie magic but much of that creative expression isn't worth the hype of opening night. Yet, I've been catching some really incredible films from the distant past that outshines anything that Spielberg could even dream of making; Kurosawa, the French New Wave, the gritty display of 70's American visionaries; movies made forty, fifty, sixty years ago. Really fabulous films that I wouldn't be afraid to show my kids today.

But they want to see kid's movies; Pixar, Spongebob, whatever lighthearted affair has been rubbed onto them from their peers (or their grandma); and they really liked E.T., especially Quinn who wanted to watch it every day for a couple of weeks after. I try to mold their minds into perfect purveyors of fine art but the world always manages to get in, no matter how high the wall we build behind the moat. I guess I'll have to just keep doing my part to counteract the effects and introduce them to filmmakers like Michel Gondry and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Terry Gilliam and Hayao Miyazaki and Olivier Assayas and Deepa Mehta and Guillermo Del Toro and Jane Campion and many many more.

And something that always brings me back to reality with a smile on my face; Winged Migration is still Lucas's favorite movie.

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