With Oscar night approaching, it’s worth reflecting how the cultural values of Hollywood are so violently opposed to the values of its most successful movies.
Seeking direction in a misdirected world
- Pirkei Avos
Behind the hero on the screen
For a wider range of topics visit me at
- Join 188 other subscribers
It looks good from h… on The Scent of Spirit Norvel Vloperman on Is life unfair? Yonason Goldson on Unmasking Frum Women VISUALJEFF on Unmasking Frum Women Inversion « Pr… on Tu B’Shevat: The Roots o… Greg Sean Maclean on More Moral Confusion over… Markowitz, Linda on In Memoriam — Rav Ephrai… Yonason Goldson on Why Marriage Matters TG on Why Marriage Matters Sender Axelbaum on Answering the Once-a-year…
- Behind the Hero on the Screen
- Bullying and Anti-Semitism
- Elbowing God Out
- Embracing the Telescreen
- Fed Up!
- Freedom to Think
- Guns or Butter?
- How to Stop a Fight
- If you could be Superman
- Interview with a Repentant Vampire
- Isn't it Ironic?
- Legal Larceny
- My intolerance of faith
- Nothing but the Truth
- Profile in Courage and Conscience
- Searching for the Way out of Exile
- Skeleton in my Closet
- Spiritual Gridlock
- The Death Watch
- The Drifters: a generation lost in space
- The Gift of Boredom
- The Happiness Quotient
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe
- The Illusion of Influence
- The Limits of Liberalism
- The Man on the Street
- The Midpoint of the World
- The Poetry of Pop
- The Power to Change the World
- The Second Amendment and the Oral Torah
- The Unfairness Doctrine
- Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
- Tony Soprano
- Vengeance is Mine
- What Ferguson teaches us about ourselves
- When Prejudices Become Principles
- When Violence seems the only Answer
Education and Parenting
- A Matter of Respect
- Building Character and Acquiring a Civil Tongue
- Handle with Care
- In Praise of Struggle
- Mirroring Parents
- Mistaking Identity
- No More Training Wheels
- Thanking the Garbage Man
- The Danger of Lowering our Expectations
- The Death of Education?
- The Fallacy of Moral Relativism
- The Language of Confusion
- The TV Fix
- What teachers really want to tell parents
Science and Nature
- Atheists in Bubbleland
- Dance with Joy
- Darwin's Appendix
- Face Off
- Is Altruism a Programmed Response?
- It's Right Before Your Eyes
- Noah Redux
- Random Nature?
- Spiritual Dialysis and the Biology of Virtue
- The Betrayal of Experience
- The Girl with X-Ray Eyes
- The Great Mistake
- The Illusion of Wisdom
- The Natural Order
- The Scent of Spirit
- The search for disorder
- The Self-Esteem Fallacy
- Walking in Circles
Tragedy and Suffering
- After the War is Over
- Flight 1549
- Grappling with the Mysteries of the Universe
- How the righteous have fallen
- Making Sense out of Senselessness
- Refelctions on 9/11
- Reflections on the Pacific Rim Tsunami
- Revisiting the Cause of Terror
- Spiritual Impressionism
- The Other Face of Tragedy
- The Puzzle Master
- The True Rewards of Giving
- Two Cheers for Pain
- What is Faith?
#1 by jgo on February 27, 2009 - 2:26 pm
I might be able to offer some insight. I “touched” over 40 major movies, mostly in the 1990s.
The thing is that a movie is a humongous collaboration. Watch the list of credits as they scholl by and you’re still not getting the whole of it. In many of the movies I “touched” my contribution that made it to screen was limited to a single sentence. My material was not used in the same context or spirit as that in which it was created, or in which I imagined it being used, with possibly 1 or 2 exceptions.
The sub-text in “Jerry Maguire” involved some difficult issues in labor economics. How productive does a person need to be to make it worthwhile for someone to employ him? What is that quantum of value? How does it change over time and why? What factors make it higher or lower?… became “materialize the coin”, that last word pronounced in the French way because I was living in a community with a French name at the time. And “Why haven’t I been paid for these previous projects that made several billion at the box office?” I boiled down to “Show me the money.”
When the filming of “The Mask of Zorro” was delayed because the Mexican government had seized their stage-swords, it inspired a cross-reference, with the mental image of the black-caped hero stuck trying to ride a donkey rather than his stallion Toronado, “If I’ve got to ride your a** like Zorro, you’re going to show me the money.”, which took me about 20 minutes to edit down to that (and that’s exactly how I submitted it, with the asterisks).
Chris O’Donnell asked, “[But then, if he’s not a maniac,] why does Bruce Wayne need to be Batman?” and I responded “He doesn’t NEEEED to be Batman! He CHOOSES to be Batman. He could have reacted in any number of ways to the murder of his parents. He could have… but he chose to study criminology and chemistry and martial arts and engineering…” which became “you see, I’m both Bruce Wayne and Batman, not because I have to be, now, because I choose to be.”
Several bits in “Conspiracy Theory” and “Men in Black” came from joking around, playing word-games, or recalling incidents that had happened to friends or to me, like having worked 37 hour days as a software analyst. “I don’t know. That’s why they call them “they”, and, uh, “them”.” and “We’re “them”. We’re “they”. WE are the men in black, the 1st, last & only line of defense against the worst scum of the universe.”, contained both playful cross-reference, and a plea for people to take up responsibility for improving their apartment complex or neighborhood, city or state. Each of us is Batman, Zorro, Blade, the hero who acts to try to improve the situation. Don’t sit back and expect the government or whatever to do everything for you. Be a good person, yourself.
We were discussing philosophy when someone asked whether the assertion that everyone is capable of rationality meant I expected everyone to be great, to be perfect. “You don’t have to be a great man. Just be a man, a fully-functioning human being, conscientiously exercising your abilities…” but it got chopped short in “Star Trek: 1st Contact”.
A similarly arcane philosophical discussion generated the “5th Element”‘s oft-repeated “Time is not important. Only life is important.”, taken out of context, of course.
Dialog in movies has to be edited down to its bare bones. I’m also nearly certain that the directors just liked the sound of the lines, and did not really understand or appreciate the full context or spirit in which they were written.