Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I live in the Zoo

"Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road."

Last week my school's theatre department was presenting two student directed one acts. My roommate happened to be in one of them. The first one act was called "Second chance." It was a play dealing with the elderly and their attitude towards getting older. It was an ok play i guess, with good acting. The second play, however, the play my roommate was in, Edward Albee's "Zoo story" caught my attention. There are only two characters in this play. The first one is Peter, a middle class textbook publisher. He is enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon at the park. Jerry, a poor and troubled New Yorker barges into the park and interrupts Peter's peace. They fall into a series of conversations about life, sexuality, and love leading to a shocking finale. The play ends with Peter, losing all control, stabbing Jerry leaving him dead on the bench. The play as a whole is dealing with human nature. You have a wealthy publisher, a man that's making 200,00$ a year, somebody who seems to have it all together. In reality Peter is as messed up and broken as Jerry. Their only difference is a wife, two daughters, two cats, and two parakeets.

   It seems to me that Albee is striving to communicate that people are like animals. We really do not care much about others. We are selfish and individualistic, and even when we act like we care, we prove over and over that it's all about us. Even after Peter hearing the horrible things Jerry went through, including his abusive landlady and stimulated dog, one would expect that he would value more his own blessings. That doesn't happen. Peter ends up defending his bench. It was like he forgot everything Jerry just told him, about how much bigger problems exist in the world. He just cared about his bench.You can however, argue that Peter wasn't just fighting for his bench. He was fighting for his solitude, his manhood, and his freedom. Because that bench was Peter's only escape from the troubles, and routine of his everyday life. For him, some stranger came to take that away. For Albee- and i think i agree with him on this one- every single person has something in their life willing to take a life to protect. Everybody has a bench. That is exactly what makes us humans identical despite our small differences. I got the impression that Albee goes even deeper in saying that not only we are all the same in our selfishness. Our ability or even willingness to love and care about our neighbor is overshadowed by our selfish needs and wants.

The animals in the zoo seem not to mind the company of others but once one gets in their "cage"- Jerry intruding into the dog's hallway-, they don't like that very much.That's how Albee suggests us humans are. We appear to be ok with others walking outside our cages. When somebody decides to walk in however is where we lose it.
   There are many other ideas presented in this one act, I won't get into now. I would encourage you to read this play and think about it. At first, it may seem as confusing and "out there," but i think Albee knew what he was doing when writing this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This was the life

I really enjoy Amy McDonald's music.

This is my favorite from all her songs. For me personally, it brings back memories from past years. The lyrics of the song are slightly ironic:

                     "And you're singing the songs
                            singing this is the life
                       and you wake up in the morning
                            and your head feels twice the size...
                    Where are you gonna go, where are you gonna sleep tonight?"

You feel like this is the life yet your head feels like it's about to explode. For many of us, that's how some or our teenage years were. This doesn't necessarily imply countless hangovers, and sleepless nights. Just try and bring back to mind all those silly things you did as a teenager. Things that were fun, maybe educating, but not wise. Things that, when doing you were probably thinking "this is the life." Then you grow up and realize that life is far more complicated and messed up than what we teenagers would like it to be. And that is exactly the point where regretfully admit: "This was the life..."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts on Christian movies

So, I read an article my father recommended. This was its’ title:
“Why are Christian Movies so bad?”
I have to say that I love films. I watch anything. Drama, Action, Comedy, Horror, you name it. Growing up in a Christian home I’ve watched quite a number of films made by Christian filmmakers. It saddens me to say this, but I agree with this article. It’s true that Christian movies are pretty bad as movies. There are many reasons for this. In the article Scott Nhering mentioned a term which intrigued me. 

Evangelical Isolation
I have to agree that Christians have isolated themselves from the rest of the world. The mentality of many Christians is simple. “If we can’t change them we will then be separated by them. We will let them live their lives and we will live ours.” That’s a mentality that led to isolation. This, even though not a physical isolation anymore, has become a definitely psychological one. The world views Christians as people who live in their own little bubble, laying all their troubles and weaknesses on a “Higher Being” to cover up their insecurities. This view withstands until a Christian proves differently. There are Christians who are respected in their societies, because they are not conforming. They are not following the norm. They do not get satisfied with a meaningless way of life with a goal of wealth, or even a typical Sunday morning service. They are actually not scared to step in a “grey” zone in order to impact the secular world. Trying to impact your society when you are preaching off your church stand won’t make much of an impact. You need to step out TO the world to preach, and if necessary you can use words (St Francis). That is exactly what Christian filmmakers should do if they want to impact the secular world. You can’t impact a secular world by presenting themes and problems which do not relate with their sense of reality. There are three ways to attempt communication with somebody from a different world, whether this is physical or psychological one. The first way is by start yelling from your world in the hopes that the people of the other world will first hear your distant cries, and then hopefully understand. It’s obvious that this method isn’t very effective. The second way is by reaching some sort of agreement with the other world. Both want common understanding and both work towards such a result, so they meet halfway. In the third method you realize that there’s no other way you can communicate your message other than diving in their world, getting a better understanding of their beliefs, and then attempt to communicate the message. Sadly, most Christians persist in following the first method. Here is our church; if they want to get saved they will come here. Some believers even participate in marches outside abortion clinics, or invade gay weddings. They might physically seem to be reaching to the other world, but in reality spiritually they are just screaming their heads off from their own comfort zones. They do not make any effort whatsoever to understand the people they try to influence, and the reasons why they are the way they are. Back when I tried harder to be a Christian somebody in church asked me. “You have friends from outside the church? Drinkers, and Smokers?Why? The Bible says blablablabla!” As a matter of fact that was the closest I ever got into living like Christ. All his friends were sinners. This applies to filmmakers as well! Why are Christian films so bad? Well, simply because they do not want to have to do anything with the audience they strive to impact. That’s the reason why Christian films are mostly embraced by Christians. The best Christian production in my opinion is “to save a life.” Let’s be honest, as a plotline, developed characters,  the movie just cannot compare with any Hollywood hits. What I liked about it was that it portrayed the other world. It showed the positive sides of both a secular, and a religious lifestyle. The film also touched the subject of hypocrisy, which is what really won me over.
To be fair however, I have to admit that it’s double times tougher for a Christian filmmaker to pass on a message than a secular one. People associate Christianity with strict religion, senseless laws, and anti- pleasure preaching. There are particular words which people associate with Christianity. As soon as a word like “Salvation,” “Jesus loves you,” or “prayer” appear in a film over and over again, it causes the secular viewer to become more and more irritated.  It’s so sad how the best Christian messages have been passed on by secular productions, whom also encourage secular beliefs. Films like “seven pounds,” and “the green mile,” are not only amazing productions, but also carry a valuable moral applied in Christianity. One may argue that there are not available resources for Christians to make a hit film. That is a good argument, but if you really work on your filmmaking skills, producers will see that. If you write thought provoking material with a good message, they will see that.
These are some of my thoughts on the subject for now. I know I've presented some general ideas without elaborating yet, but i will soon. Feel free to comment and ask me any questions.