Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Films Encourage Children To Smoke

Did you know smoking was a part of the criteria the MPAA addresses when deciding a film? It happened in 2007. But these people don't think the motion picture industry goes far enough. Their argument is based on the hypodermic needle model. That is, kids see Brad Pitt smoking a cigar and instantly, they drag their brainwashed behinds into a 7/11 and buy themselves a pack of Swisher Sweets.
Do you believe it is the responsibility of the motion picture industry to provide entertainment to kids, free of any items that might offend your moral sensibilities? Or do you believe children should be legally permitted access to all content, regardless of exposure to sex and violence and smoking and fatty foods?
In 2004, GKC Theaters (now out of business) attempted to introduce a system by which kids under 17 could attend films Rated R without parent supervision. Some parents loved this idea because they wanted the freedom to send their kids to the theater to see rated R movie without being forced by the MPAA to go with them. Some parents complained because they were afraid of being hoodwinked by their kids. This article cites a concerned parent saying ...they'll go see what they want to see with the card. They'll tell you they're seeing 'Billy Elliot,' but will see 'Kill Bill,'
Crazy kids can't help themsleves! If the state doesn't protect the children from themselves, who will? Parents?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amanda Knox: Guilty or Not Guilty

“It is better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished" - Thomas Jefferson

Consider this: perception is reality. If we take this axiom seriously, we must examine these perceptions and take into account the biases at play. When we focus on the limitations of our ability to understand the world, the truth of reality becomes more and more like a trivial abstraction. Our understanding of perception becomes the new reality.

This week's stranger (vol. 19 no. 14) comes with two articles concerning the Amanda Knox story. One is a fictionalized account of the murder, portraying Knox as guilty, meticulously cited from the prosecutor's notes. The other is a plea from an ex-roommate, Madison Paxton.

Charles Mudede's story
reads like a Quentin Tarantino script. How Mudede feels about the case is irrelevant. The genius of this article is how it pieces together the perceptions of the prosecuting team in a way we have not seen until now.

Criticism at the foot of the article strike me funny. I also read this article about how Mudede came to America from Zimbabwe and lived on the streets of Seattle. I suspect that Mudede is suspicious of cops and the legal system but he does not use this opportunity to expound upon his personal beliefs. I respect his style because he allows his subject to speak for itself.

The Madison Paxton plea and response seems to have been removed. The fault of the defense is, I have yet to see an alibi account of what happened on the night of murder. If Knox and Sollecito were not raping and killing Kercher, then where were they? Smoking pot and having sex?

Although not as dramatized and sensational as Mudede's fictionalized account, Paxton presents the logic of the defense in a succinct linear manner. Like a true college student, she begs us to walk away with three strong points. There are no recordings of the police interrogations of Knox. There is no evidence directly linking Knox and Sollecito to the scene of the crime. There is no logical motive, indicating Knox and Sollecito to rape and murder.

Analysis of the media maelstrom is to miss the point. At this time, the guilt or innocence of Knox is equally irrelevant. More important to society is, how believable is the prosecuting story? How pure and untainted is the due process?

After all, if perception is reality then our world is pretty hazy. Lets try to get a clear picture before we sentence someone to prison for murder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Analysis of the Obama Doctrine

President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo could easily be the most important and most defining speech in his career. In it, he discloses the full Obama Doctrine. He begins by telling us about the necessity of war and leaves us with his feelings on charity. War for peace and giving what is required. You can watch the speech in its entirety below or read the text.

There are two parts to Obama's speech. The first half is his philosophy of war and the second half is his philosophy for peace.

Interesting how Obama accepts the award and reluctantly places himself in leagues with people such as Martin Luther King. When King delivered his speech, he accepted the prize on behalf of his people, or as he said it "beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."

You can read the acceptance speeches of Albert Schwitzer, George Marshall, Nelson Mandela or any other laureate on the Nobel website. I look forward to reading the lecture of Paul Krugman.

I am intrigued by Obama's recap of history. He recalls the US involvement in World War II as selfless and heroic. He twice cites the Balkans as evidence to the effectiveness of 'peace through strength' and once refers to Korea. He insists history shows us the spoils of war may include lasting peace while maintaining King's contradicting philosophy, that “violence never brings permanent peace."

We know that North Korea is not a democracy and we know that the Balkans are run by the mafia. Funny how his success stories are not success stories at all. And interesting, how Obama chooses not to talk about how FDR's Machiavellian tactics brought democracy came to Japan. But of World War II, Obama speaks mostly about the European front, in which US involvement is a mere footnote by other accounts.

(citation, i admit, is missing here)

Obama makes it clear that Gandhi and King, in all their greatness, could not stop Hitler's armies or bring peace to Europe. He neglects to tell us that all of Kennedy's armies could not put an end to the Cold War, either.

Obama concludes his justification of war by identifying the war tactics of The United States as the ideal by which all just wars are modeled. When he says "I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war," he is indirectly condoning and aligning himself with the acts of war committed by George W Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gone are all campaign promises of change.

In a transitional paragraph, Obama makes an interesting reference to Guantanamo Bay. He says he is against torture and that is why he ordered the closure of the prison. Funny, how there is no real deadline for the closure. Sometime next year, he says.

Obama says there are three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

The first is through imposing tariffs on trade and other economic restrictions. Obama says "sanctions must exact a real price."

The second is through recognition of man's natural rights as outlined in the American constitution and echoed in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Obama said "I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear."

The third is through economic security and opportunity. Obama gives us the nut of the Obama Doctrine when he says, "for true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want."

The third path to peace is most interesting because it directly reflects his policy on domestic issues of education and nationalized health care.

My questions for Obama are:

Do trade tariffs truly prevent war or maintain peace? Is it possible to maintain conversation while a country is in alienation from the developed world? I would like to research and discuss how open trade aided in the cultural evolution of India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Is it possible to force a country to respect the natural rights of its citizens without violating the natural rights of that country's leaders? I would like to research and discuss the legitimacy of the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and The War of Northern Aggression.

And finally, whose responsibility is it to restore hope to the hopeless? In what way is duty different from charity? Is it morally justified to force man to do good?

Interesting, how Obama talks about war. He refers to it as someone might talk about the weather. Americans do not seek this war. It is miserable like the rain and from it, we are inclined to seek protection. But keep faith, Obama says. Keep faith in humanity's tenacity to rebuild. We must maintain our faith in human progress, he says, and he never takes ownership of his war.

Edit: Thanks Fjahma for reminding me, Obama is now in ranks with great people such as Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

nonsense / there is no other

i made this video as i was graduating from high school. i was such an artist back then! what we have here could be a typical film school image and symbol collage. we have hitler and billy graham and industrial japan and al gore. but what makes this special to me is the subtitled narrative.

i recorded the soundtrack myself. the first half is an audio collage full of all sorts of sounds i collected while in high school. the second half is a piece i composed in a midi sequencer. i captured the billy graham speech off the radio. all of the images are taken from movies i rented from the library.

i made this video prior to both 9/11 and global warming so i am not trying to make a statement about those topics. i am making a statement about national identity and point of view. and of course the image of al gore receiving the fascist salute is pretty funny now, considering his cult leader status.

when i show this video to people, they walk away with one of two messages. the first, is that i am contrasting man's world view with god's truth. man creates chaos and god is here to guide us through it. the second, is that i am only looking at man's image of perfection. for billy graham, jesus was the ideal to aspire towards. to hitler, science (bad superstitious science, but science none the less) was the ideal to aspire towards.

i prefer the latter because it lends meaning to the final question. is it best not to dream at all? in other words, is it best not to imagine an ideal? because in many ways, these ideals lead to genocide and prejudice.

i would like to challenge billy graham's statement that 'when we do what is right in our own eyes, there is chaos' because i disagree. i believe our country was founded on the principal that it is best if we are all free to do what is right in our own eyes. the problem lies within people who want to coerce their beliefs onto others, either through physical violence or social chastising.

so dream on. your world view is quite possibly your most valuable asset.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rosa Alba and Fjahma

I met Fjahma at the NW Film Forum where I volunteer once a week. He is generous with his world view and meek as a monk. He always wears a big black hood over his eyes. He's an ambitious guy. I respect ambition in a person.

rosa alba

fjahma | MySpace Video

8mm film about a CIA agent who follows a flower girl from the Bremerton ferry and kills her in an alley somewhere. In the above sequence, he uses a golf club he finds leaning up against a wall but in other edits, he just shoots her.

Not sure what it all means.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cops Good, Crooks Bad

A police might wake up in the morning like an ordinary man and put on his pants one leg at a time, but as soon as he dawns the badge he transcends his personal identity and becomes an icon of public safety. Injury inflicted upon his body is not a crime against mortal flesh but a crime against society.

Two stories of cop killers within 30 days, the common thread between Christopher Monfort and Maurice Clemmons is the media and community response. Who would willingly wage war on an icon of public safety? What kind of monster enters into a state of war with the man in the white hat?

The more important question is, what circumstances lure an individual into making enemies with a system he cannot defeat? He must know, upon breaking the social contract that there will be no return. Society will dehumanize him. His friends and family will become suspect of assisting and enabling him. His political affiliations forever tinged.

Monfort could be lucky if he never sees trial. History shows that the jail system shows no mercy to convicted cop killers.

From Seattle Times archive:

PASCO — A man convicted of killing a (Washington) State Patrol trooper is suing Franklin County and a sheriff's deputy over the way he was treated after being arrested.

Nicolas Solorio Vásquez, 30, alleges that Sheriff Richard Lathim's "tepid disciplinary action" condoned Deputy James Dickenson's behavior and the use of excessive force.

Solorio Vásquez is serving a life term in the October 1999 shooting death o
f Trooper James Saunders in Pasco.

Dickenson pleaded guilty in June 2000 to assault on Solorio Vásquez and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

The details surrounding the death of Maurice Clemmons leave no room for reasonable skepticism. Make no excuses, Maurice Clemmons executed four police officers in cold blood. He deserves none less than punishment at the fullest extent of the law.

In the hunt for Clemmons, police trashed the house of one woman (a family member of Clemmons) who decided to do the right thing and call the police. When Police have a monopoly in the business of capturing criminals, there is no accountability for the collateral damage of their man hunts. Begin moral debate over the legality of citizen vigilante groups. Or individuals.

Monfort and Clemmons are not heroes. It is wrong under all circumstances to kill another human being. Do not idolize their actions. Do not give them pity. Rather, is there no cure for mental illness? No way to reform a system than reaps absolute dualism between cops and criminals?

If Clemmons was a bicyclist, hit by a car, we might be inclined to put up a memorial at the scene of the accident. Society is not keen on sympathizing with cop killers and yet, how much like a bicyclist was Clemmons, precariously sailing our lives in a separate reality until just recently. He collided with reality?

The Decline and Fall of the Republican Party

I caught this video from my favorite progressive blogger and I want to share it with you. Its about the proposed Republican Purity Test. Its a suicide pact. Its tearing the party apart. It begs the question, what is the GOP going to do next? Are they going to splinter off ala reformation style?

Conservative economists Gary Becker and Richard Posner wrote about the deterioration of party politics, signs pointing back as far as the 1960s.

During the republican presidential debates Ron Paul said (among other things), the base of the republican party shrunk because of the war issue. Ron Paul continues to tell Rudy Giuliani that 9/11 was Islamic backlash against American Interventionism.

Senator Lindsay Graham dishes out some backlash of his own against Ron Paul's intervention of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party has fragmented into two camps. One group is the carrying the zombie corpse of The Bush administration and everything it stood for. That is, government bailouts, government sponsored monopolies in the health care industry and war mongering in the Middle East. The other group are the librarians who are against all that.

The Republican Party is in serious need of organizing and prioritizing their values. They may find that their survival into 2012 will call for compromise of various social issues such as legalized abortion, legalized gay marriage and legalized recreational drug use. Young conservatives do not buy into the hypocrisy of a political platform that preaches small government in economics and yet insists upon a federal church of morality.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the xx, crystalised

i love the xx but this video seems a bit... uninspired?

i agree with the notion of presenting a minimalist style but placing the band up against a wall and using a video projector as lighting is a bit obvious. don't you think?

i wonder if the director alex flick was thinking about this nine inch nails video when he was doing this?