Archive for July 2013

Tasteful Nudity

July 18, 2013

Did that get your attention? Good, because I have something serious to say, although I did want to comment on the HBO series, Game of Thrones — which my wife and I are loving, now that we’ve finally caught up with it through Netflix. There are great visuals, intricate plots, violent (yet imaginative) battle scenes, and yes, a fair amount of gratuitous nudity and sex in certain episodes. It’s sort of like an R-rated version of Lord of the Rings for adults. At its heart though, is the dwarf character, who starts out as a wastrel and uses his wits as a way of compensating for his “half a man” stature. Watching him adapt and grow, metaphorically, into a cunning leader by using his skills of lying, deal-making and common sense observations, is inspiring. He’s the ultimate underdog, who relishes the Game. But his most important quality is empathy.

We root for Tyrion Lannister, a.k.a. “The Imp,” because he identifies with those who are mocked, beaten down or abused. He doesn’t get on his high horse or moralize about the fairness of life or offer empty platitudes about helping others. He just shows it by small gestures, pardon the pun. However, those little things he does are magnified by the pettiness of his bigger, stronger siblings and their might-makes-right approach to ruling. Every wannabe politician should study The Imp’s character arc.

Oh, where was I? Ah, yes… the real point of this post was to direct you to a documentary that is available on Netflix via instant streaming: Chasing Ice. For anyone who is a skeptic of global warming concerns or thinks Al Gore was exaggerating the threats posed by climate change when An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, all I can say is watch this movie. Now. Not only does it show proof that glaciers are melting — it’s happening much faster than anyone predicted. Sometimes, reality is scarier than any big budget disaster flick.

And that brings me to the latest Godzilla remake. The local TV “news” media in Hawaii has been all atwitter about the millions of dollars spent and hundreds of extras being employed while cameras roll in Waikiki, as part of future scenes of death and destruction coming to a theater near you (and will probably bomb like the last Godzilla remake). Wow, isn’t that great! We get to see Hawaii demolished in another overblown Hollywood exercise in crap-tastic recycling of familiar monsters and cliche action “heroes” who don’t seem to care much about threats to the human race until giant mutant creatures or hostile aliens show up.

So here’s my gripe: Destruction is easy. Making movies about fake disasters is fun and exciting for those who get to be part of the experience. But making people care about real catastrophes that are occurring right now is hard. We’d rather look away from evidence of actual threats to the planet and escape into apocalyptic fantasies than do something to address clear and present dangers to humanity. Imagine if we — or these giant entertainment companies — would just put a fraction of the time and money they spent on the fake destruction of Waikiki, into something constructive… like helping some of the homeless get off the street, or fixing our aging infrastructure, or —

I forgot. You’d have to be living in a fantasy world to think we should expect our leaders to engage the public and rally them toward doing something useful. Instead, we get politicians who show up on Waikiki film sets for photo ops and a chance to hobnob with Hollywood royalty. I can see that little dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, smirking at our folly while knowing “Winter is coming” — except in our case, winter is global warming, and rising sea levels.

If you want examples of real heroes, I nominate the filmmakers of Chasing Ice and An Inconvenient Truth. It requires true courage to tell people they have to wake up and take action before it’s too late.