Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives


I understand the thought process behind a piece like Clay Shirky’s “There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote”. I’d like to offer a different perspective. I chose to focus on Shirky’s piece because I believe it accurately reflects a particular perspective that is out there and the article itself is currently being shared extensively on social media and elsewhere as a school of thought some people are connecting with.

I think Shirky’s viewpoint runs the danger of functioning as a narrative for those who want to feel irreproachable in their voting decision by making any other voting choices or perspectives ineffective, irresponsible, and/or a sign of weakness. Shirky’s insistence that “Presidential voting is an exercise in distinguishing the lesser of two evils. Making that choice is all that’s asked of us, and all that’s on offer” can be seen as one example of a school of thought that indirectly (or even directly) stifles political change. It most certainly can be argued that it stifles progress.

Shirky sees only three options in voting this election (or any other):

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.

B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.

C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

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Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives

Facebook Impressions: July 19, 2016

Clinton, Trump pick up big wins

Like many people, Facebook has pulled me away from my daily blog as a source of expression. I still post here, but so much of what I think and feel about what is happening in the world gets lost in the fleeting panorama that is Facebook.

So I thought I would start posting some of my shorter thoughts and essays, as well as my responses to particular articles or others’ comments and commentaries. When separate thoughts are contained in one space, they often reveal a much larger, deeper narrative. If nothing else, they tell a story. So long as my own story continues to unfold, I’d like to share more of it here.

From July 19, 2016:

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Facebook Impressions: July 19, 2016

Disagreeing with Carol Cadwalladr’s Assessment of THE REVENANT

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.35.11 AM

I couldn’t possibly disagree more with Carol Cadwalladr‘s assessment of THE REVENANT in her recent piece in The Guardian titled “The Revenant is Meaningless Pain Porn.”

I would agree that our culture displays a whole lot of meaningless violence, yes, even to a pornographic level, but of all the films to accuse of this, THE REVENANT is simply not one.

Yes, there’s pain. Yes, human suffering and graphic violence. But to minimize this film and place it alongside the hoards of films spit out by Hollywood each year disguised as entertainment but, instead, offering us vapid exercises (in, among other things, killing and human suffering), is to completely miss the point of the entire film.

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Disagreeing with Carol Cadwalladr’s Assessment of THE REVENANT

STAR WARS: Another J.J. Abrams’ Jedi-Mind Trick

Contains Spoilers. 

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterI know people were very excited for this newest STAR WARS film. I also know that some people hate to be disappointed and will hold onto anything that feels positive and that perpetuates their most-cherished narrative. I also believe that audiences have become so accustomed to comic-book movies and Hollywood origin-story rehashes that they have essentially forgotten not only what good storytelling is, they have forgotten its importance to human society and development.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS suffers from far worse than a wholly unoriginal story, which on its own would be bad enough. Not only did J.J. Abrams decide that what the film, the franchise, and the Star Wars universe needed was a remake of the original STAR WARS, it now required a version of that story sans heart and soul. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is yet another mournful stop on the road map charting the demise of Hollywood storytelling. We’re past the death-throws here, we’re now in “I’m exhausted, will it just die already” territory.

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STAR WARS: Another J.J. Abrams’ Jedi-Mind Trick

Fare Thee Well Night Two: Desire & Admission


You can read my post on the first night here

It’s an odd experience feeling disappointment around something so very special and important in my life. Some have shared my experience and interpretation, others have their own and it varies wildly. No experience is wrong.

I’ve been accused by some in the past few days of judging too harshly and being overly vocal about it. Maybe that’s true, but it seems more to me like there’s this unspoken notion that it’s clear heresy to express disappointment surrounding this occasion, to criticize any element of it. In essence, to have my own experience and voice it. It feels like going to see the Grateful Dead in 1994 and 1995 and commenting on Garcia’s playing and health. To me, something was clearly going on. It seemed like he was using again, in very ill health and the music suffered greatly. When I remarked on it at the time, there were those that suggested I was just being negative. But there’s nothing more I would have rather been doing than celebrating Garcia and this music and the band that I love. Perhaps for those who had just hopped on the bus at that time and had little previous experience to compare to, 1995 was a stellar year in Grateful Dead history and Garcia was in top form. But history has shown us that was not the case. There are very few out there now who would deny the difference, the change, the obvious.

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Fare Thee Well Night Two: Desire & Admission

Observations on Cinema vs. the Capitalist Feeding Frenzy


Filmmaker William Friedkin was recently interviewed for a piece in The Telegraph titled “Superhero movies are ruining cinema, says Exorcist director William Friedkin.”

I agree with Friedkin’s sentiment and I would take it one step further and say that it’s not “Superhero movies” that are ruining cinema, but that those films are a product of what has so dramatically changed since the 70’s.

The corporate greed and the paint-by-numbers mentality that has now driven cinema for many decades is, in itself, a product of a state of mind that has been vigorously taught, conditioned, indoctrinated and embraced in the U.S. Its impact is reflected in all aspects of our lives socially, culturally, politically and, yes, artistically…

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Observations on Cinema vs. the Capitalist Feeding Frenzy

Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?

selmaI liked SELMA. And I thought it suffered a bit from the usual standard biopic pitfalls of not digging more deeply into the complex areas inherent in its story and characters, as well as not trusting actual events to be powerful enough of a story to not have to alter history to create extra drama or to paint a more “desirable” picture. That said, I still found the film effecting and it stayed with me longer than either THE IMITATION GAME or THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, the other 2 biopics from last year made in a similar mold.

For me, these kinds of linear tellings of stories with historical beats that need to be hit always feel too manufactured. Which isn’t to say they don’t have impact or are not good films. Many are, and this one is. But there’s a deeper level of human experience, the human condition, that these types of films never quite manage to reveal for me. More often than not, this begins at the script stage. These films often feel like the events themselves were strung out in a line with index cards and the characters’ personal struggles inserted to up the drama instead of revealing and exploring the many layers and complexities of the human beings and their struggles being portrayed. For me, the film MR. TURNER was the only biopic I saw from last year that transcended this issue. Perhaps because the filmmaker/writer, Mike Leigh, knows that it’s the characters’ inner journeys that dictate the “events” that unfold and not the other way around.

Continue reading “Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?”

Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?