July 31, 2006
Roger Ebert writes:
The Muslim scholar Hamid Dabashi, however, after being asked to consult on the movie, writes in the new issue of Sight & Sound: "It was neither pro- nor anti-Islamic, neither pro- nor anti-Christian. It was, in fact, not even about the 'Crusades.'" And yet I consider the film to be a profound act of faith." It is an act of faith, he thinks, because for its hero Balian (Orlando Bloom), who is a non-believer, "All religious affiliations fade in the light of his melancholic quest to find a noble purpose in life."
That's an insight that helps me understand my own initial question about the film, which was: Why don't they talk more about religion? Weren't the Crusades seen by Christians as a Holy War to gain control of Jerusalem from the Muslims? I wondered if perhaps Scott was evading the issue. But not really: He shows characters more concerned with personal power and advancement than with theological issues.
And that's precisely why I didn't like the movie. Orlando Bloom comes off sounding more like a modern campus activist than someone from 1184. His rally speech sounded like a debate on reparations, not the Holy Crusades:
It has fallen to us, to defend Jerusalem, and we have made our preparations as well as they can be made. None of us took this city from Muslims. No Muslim of the great army now coming against us was born when this city was lost. We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. What is Jerusalem? Your holy palaces lie over the Jewish temple that the Romans pulled down. The Muslim places of worship lie over yours. Which is more holy? The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? Who has claim? No one has claim. All have claim!
If Ridley Scott set out to make a movie where the premise is "all religions are equally dumb," then he succeeded. Because it sure wasn't a movie about the Crusades. It just wasn't really what I expected, but in hindsight, I don't know why I was surprised: it's so typical in 2006 to expect a movie where all people could live in harmony if white Europeans would just let them be. Oh, and where the Muslims win the battle of Helm's Deep. I should've seen it coming.
July 30, 2006
I've managed to connect to one of the least pertinent parts of the article, but I couldn't help but notice this paragraph:
Adulthood no longer begins when adolescence ends, according to a recent report by University of Pennsylvania sociologist Frank F. Furstenberg and colleagues. There is, instead, a growing no-man's-land of postadolescence from 20 to 30, which they dub "early adulthood." Those in it look like adults but "haven't become fully adult yettraditionally defined as finishing school, landing a job with benefits, marrying and parentingbecause they are not ready or perhaps not permitted to do so."
Using the classic benchmarks of adulthood, 65 percent of males had reached adulthood by the age of 30 in 1960. By contrast, in 2000, only 31 percent had. Among women, 77 percent met the benchmarks of adulthood by age 30 in 1960. By 2000, the number had fallen to 46 percent.
Granted, I've only grown up in one era, so I can't really compare my entry into adulthood in the 2000s with someone else's decades ago, but I can't help but feel that people my age are sometimes hopelessly immature.
The husband and I went to a party relatively recently, a housewarming picnic for a couple who just bought their first house. We didn't know any of the couples at the party, so we did a lot of watching on the sidelines, and as darkness fell, so did IQs. By the end of the evening, we stared wide-eyed as married women lifted up their skirts and flashed their thongs to distract single men during their men vs women beer pong game. Yes, you read that right. This party at a 30-something's new house in the suburbs turned into a night that rivaled anything I saw in college. And then of course we sat horrified as people grabbed another beer for the road and drove home.
These people all supposedly had jobs and relationships and should've been considered adults, but I've never felt more out-of-place or uncomfortable in my life. I'm not above admitting that I did some wild and foolish things in my college years, but that part of my life is far in the past now. These couples seemed to be having just another weekend of fun.
I have no idea if their behavior has anything to do with their upbringing or parents. I could speculate that it might have something to do with not being quite ready to be adults yet. I hear that the whole "failure to launch" thing is a real phenomenon in the US, and that people are less and less emotionally and financially ready to grow up than ever before. Could that be a reason why you'd flash your boobs at some random guy while your husband makes another trip to the keg? Is the world too big and scary to leave the comfort of the Fun College Years? I can't say I understand this, since I love every candle I add to my birthday cake; my husband and I constantly play a game where we imagine what we'll do when he retires and we're older and cooler.
I hope I can teach my children someday that growing up is one of the best things you can do. I'm trying to read articles like this and prepare myself, because I want to do whatever it takes so that my child isn't the one lifting her skirt at a housewarming party...
July 27, 2006
July 13, 2006
July 12, 2006
July 11, 2006
July 10, 2006
So all the more credit to Mr. Lomborg, who several weeks ago got his first big shot at reprogramming world leaders. His organization, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, held a new version of the exercise in Georgetown. In attendance were eight U.N. ambassadors, including John Bolton. (China and India signed on, though no Europeans.) They were presented with global projects, the merits of each of which were passionately argued by experts in those fields. Then they were asked: If you had an extra $50 billion, how would you prioritize your spending?
Mr. Lomborg grins and says that before the event he briefed the ambassadors: "Several of them looked down the list and said 'Wait, I want to put a No. 1 by each of these projects, they are all so important.' And I had to say, 'Yeah, uh, that's exactly the point of this exercise--to make you not do that.'" So rank they did. And perhaps no surprise, their final list looked very similar to that of the wise economists. At the top were better health care, cleaner water, more schools and improved nutrition. At the bottom was . . . global warming.
July 01, 2006
But now that I know Hud liked it, I guess I can assume I will too.
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