Friday, May 7, 2010

Give Me That Old Timey Villain

Have you noticed a trend with the villains in movies lately? How about children's films? Maybe you've noticed it to, a moral relativism has crept into our theaters and into the characters we love.

It shows up in different ways, according to the genre, target audience and themes, however the gravitation toward a murky moral middle (sorry I couldn't pass up the cheesy alliteration) ground is present in all cases.

It's started to pop up in kid's flicks lately. When is the last time we had a baddie like the 'evil step mother' or the 'Wicked Witch of The West?'

Bolt? No bad guy (or girl) to speak of. This trend can be seen in others to. Meet The Robinson's, How to Train Your Dragon, Finding Nemo. Yes there was a bad guy in meet the Robinson's but he just turned out to be misunderstood, not really a true villain.

Then you have the PG-13 and R segment. This is where morally gray characters are popping up with greater frequency.
Perhaps your modern movie heroes seem pretty nice, but have you gone back and watched an old western recently. Not all, but most, feature gun wielding vigilantes who bring justice and peace. Each generation of Americans has it's cinema heroes, and the old west seems to sport some of cleanest heroes in American movie history.

They were gentlemen: Non-drinkers, clean speakers, respectful of women and they only fought when necessary (which turned out to be pretty often).

Now compare that with, say, Tony Stark (aka Ironman). Drinks, sleeps around, curses, and shows off at every possible juncture.

It's not fair to put every recent 'hero' in this box. Some, The LOTR characters come to mind, still hold to old ideals.

I think what I'm really gripping about here, are the blurred lines. Things used to be very straightforward. Bad guys and good guys were nothing like each other.

On the other hand reality and morality do not get along terribly well. I'm not saying I don't believe in absolute morality. Yet, movie heroes often find themselves in between a moral compromise and a bad decision.
Batman choosing not to kill the Joker, Spider-man having to decide between saving Mary-Jane or the train car full of kids.

I'm sorry all of my examples come from superhero movies (or fantasy), it's all I can think of.

I think over all, viewers like a gritty hero. Because life is gritty, and while it may be nice to have a spotless hero, a screwed up person is a lot easier to identity with.

Every superman has his krypton, our current superheroes just happen to have a dump truck full of the stuff.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Of Death

Death and it's ramifications seem to be an eerie, recurring theme in my life as of late. It has shown up in my reading material, in my music in sermons at church and in life. I've started to wonder if God is trying to get something across to me (as if).

Quite a disconcerting combination. I know I've written about living life to the fullest before, but this is marginally different.

Two incidents have been the primary catalyst for this line of thinking.
Specifically there have been two nasty wrecks, involving other teens recently. One was girl and her sister who pulled out in from of a truck. The younger girl was killed. Also a car full of students from High Point Christian Academy was in a wreck. Two of the occupants were killed.

Everyone throws around phrases like: 'life is short' and 'you never know when you'll die.' For me though, those ideas have begun to really hit home.

It presents an ago old, yet always relevant question. If I knew for certain I was going to die, how would my actions reflect that knowledge?

The funny part is, we already know that death is coming. What is the old saying? Only two things in this life are sure, death and taxes. That is probably a true statement.

Here are some interesting lyrics from one of my favorite artists, Jon Foreman. In case you weren't aware, Jon is also the lead singer for the band Switchfoot.

And I said, please
Don't talk about the end
Don't talk about how
Every living thing goes away
She said, friend

All along I thought
I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really
I've been learning how to die
I've been learning how to die

How beautiful and profound. Ecclesiastes also comes to mind (something else I've been reading).

(Eccl 3:20 [ESV]) All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

Even with these truths becoming more evident to me, I still don't live as if I were dying. I haven't been learning how to die.
I don't die to myself everyday and take up my cross, I ignore the eternal impact of my actions in present and I waste this precious gift of life I've been given. What will people say of my at my funeral? What would I want them to say?

May God give me the strength to truly Live.

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