Saturday 12.15.12

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I’m resisting the urge to talk about politics here.
This blog is supposed to be a place where I can vent when I need it in what should be a consequence free environment, but honestly, I’m going to take my own advice here and instead of talking about my stance on gun control or mental health care I’ll just say that my heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings. Other folks, people much more articulate than me, have summed up my feelings much better than I’ve been able to, so I’ll defer to them:

Anna:

“This is what happens when you take God out of schools.” If you believe this, your God is a fucking dick.

Roger Ebert:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Ultimately it comes down to a mentally unstable person doing something unthinkable. People are racing to post statistics about gun violence in other countries; the same people post how horrible that American companies (Walmart, Amazon) treat their employees, how we don’t have access to proper nutrition based on our wages/costs of living, lack of health care, etc.  It’s an apples and oranges discussion. We are a unique country and the anomalies that pop up here, like evolution, come up as a result of so many factors converging that you can’t compare it to anywhere else. I just wish folks would be as concerned about the people who were killed as they are the method by which they died. I hope that in the coming months and years the families of the victims will find some solace or peace, though placing myself in their shoes I think that it may be a wish that’s not likely to come true. Such a tragic day.

I spent most of yesterday unaware of what was going on; I don’t watch TV so I rarely have access to real time news. I woke up early to see the 48fps screening of the 3d Hobbit with Mary Beth, which turned out to be… overwhelming. The tech is interesting, but I think that the high frame rate is going to take some getting used to; personally I ended up with a headache after the showing, and someone told me yesterday that parts of the Hobbit were shot in an astounding 96FPS…. which means that as soon as our brains get used to 48….

As for the film itself:

On the whole… I expected Jar Jar Binks to show up at some point. It was the Phantom Menace of the Tolkien films. I enjoyed it, but it just felt like New Line Cinema knew they had a slam dunk so they just sort of cobbled it together. The editing seemed sort of choppy, battle scenes went long to justify a long running time (seriously- there’s going to be a longer version when it hits home video. I can’t imagine what else they have left to show) and a few nitpicky other things that might go into spoiler territory so I’ll wait for folks to see it. 

Overall… I liked it. I thought it was a good companion to the LOTR films, but the weakest of the four. Oh, and the CG Orcs… not a fan. Practical effects worked so well in the LOTR films and it was a shame that the lead bad Orc was digital not a guy in a suit.

I think MB and I are going to go see it again in standard FPS to give it a second chance. It was just so much information to digest that I think a second viewing might help me make a better decision on the film, not the film + tech.

The weirdness of the day spilled into my work night; we threw a bunch of people out for misbehaving, there was a weird vibe all around but it luckily turned out to be a good night, so I won’t complain too much. I even managed to see my buddy Amanda, fresh back from her tour of hospitals. She, like Angela a few hours earlier, assured me that my ingrown hair wasn’t cancer, so… my hypochondria was placated for yet another day.

Today was a super lazy ‘watch movies then go to the gym before work’ day. Nothing really exciting…. cleaned a bit because Natalie is coming over tomorrow, but otherwise… typical laziness. I don’t know. I don’t really have much to say since I’d mostly be crossing that ‘no politics’ line. It’s better that way.

Photo: Goodness.

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