Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Political Spectrum: More Than Left and Right

All of us are aware of the general idea of the political spectrum. Generally speaking, those on the Left favor a larger government with more power and responsibility, while those on the Right put more emphasis on smaller government and more power to individual citizens. Between these two are a wide array of different people, groups and ideas. These include everything from gun rights to gay rights, immigration to traditionalism and a vast array of others that I won't list here.

While convenient for casual use, the simplicity of Left and Right is inherently limited and fails to tap into the far greater complexity represented by those within them. If you dig deeper, you will find people identifying themselves as moderates. Usually these are people with beliefs of both sides, somewhere in the middle. Yet this too fails to really take much into account. Two or three groups is a gross oversimplification for the sheer variety of individual opinions and beliefs. This also becomes troublesome when those engaging in debate use examples of extremists to paint the whole as flawed. This inevitably results in everyone within a broad belief being painted with the same brush of guilt. Those on the Left are accused of all being Communists and those on the Right of being intolerant religious bigots.

Yet despite sharing similar beliefs, these people may in fact disagree heartily with the extreme elements.

It is for this reason that I hope to delve deeper into these intricacies and shed light on a new perspective that might help in the current political environment. I will start simple, but slowly show more complex examples.

First, imagine a square. Now imagine a line drawn down the middle from top to bottom. You then of course have the Left and the Right. For simplicity's sake, let us say there is no Moderate. Now, on both sides you have good and bad people. Some are tolerant of those who disagree with them, others react with open hostility. But how to tell one from the other? Negativity grabs attention far more than positivity. If one does something wrong, it is seemingly shared collectively across the board. They are on the same side, and thus tar the whole with their bad deeds, whether it is an action, statement or belief.

But now imagine another line, one drawn from the sides horizontally. Now instead of two rectangles, the Left and Right, you now have four squares, Up and Down. Imagine now that the Down is for those who represent hostility, violence, intolerance and in general behavior considered uncivilized or dangerous. Up represents those who are tolerant, kind, helpful, and even extend generosity to those on the opposite side of the square.

This introduces a very different dynamic. Left Down can be considered extremists you see on TV who blacklist their opponents or call for the silencing or deaths of others. But Left Up consists of those who disagree with those on the Right, but hold no ill will towards them and respect their beliefs and standings. The same with the Right. There is the Right Down which includes those who wish to harm Leftists, both Up and Down, who take extreme positions and are openly hostile to those who disagree. But there is also the Right Up. Like the Left Up, they are tolerant, enjoy political debate, and don't shy from interacting with those different from them.

Now suddenly we can view things with greater precision. Instead of now identifying Leftists or Rightists as inherently bad based on the actions of a minority from their half of the square, now we can divide them based not just on beliefs, but on behaviors and most importantly, actions. This also allows us to fight against disagreeable elements that are technically on the sides we are on. For the Left, this could be classical liberals debating with hard core communists or fascist socialists. For the Right it could be classic conservatives arguing against extreme anarchists or fanatical Trump supporters. Despite technically sharing the same inherent base beliefs, the degree to which they hold to them and how they treat others as a result shows a great deal of difference.

Often in this heated political climate we are somehow forced to defend those who are deplorable by the simple virtue that they technically are on our side. I find this unacceptable.

Political beliefs come in degrees, not in absolutes.

Continuing with the example of the squares within squares, let us get much more complex. What many don't seem to be willing to acknowledge is that there are those considered to be on one political side that share some beliefs of the other. There are Leftists who support gun ownership rights, capitalism and religious freedom. There are Rightists who support gay rights, immigration and some level of government assistance.

Let us take the view of government assistance with personal lives as an example. Let us start with the with the middle and go Right. The middle would be some level of government assistance in the lives of citizens. Social Security cards, the DMV, various licensing, stuff that you most likely see as reasonable for everyday use. There are taxes and fees for small processes undergone. We nudge to the Right and see the desire for less government involvement in say, welfare. At first it's just a gradual reduction. Perhaps those on welfare have a slightly reduced volume of benefits. A little less in the welfare checks, a little less Medicare, etc, in the hopes of saving tax money from those who aren't on welfare and prompt those who are into improving their situation. Nothing drastic.

Take a step further. Some programs will be greatly reduced. Those who milk the system will be up in arms, but there are even some on the Left who can acknowledge that some such steps are necessary. After all, if someone has the physical means to work and simply chooses not to, should he or she really receive benefits? This falls within the Moderate Right. But then let us get more extreme. You find those who not only want to reduce programs, but get rid of many altogether. Eliminate Affirmative Action, Medicare, Medicade, and a host of other programs. This is opposed vehemently by many on the Left, but most on the Right support.

Take it to the hard core extreme, and introduce the idea of no government assistance whatsoever for anyone. This will make even most Rightists pause. After all, some will argue, correctly, that there are some who do need help. What if someone is crippled in an accident and unable to care for themselves, but are not affiliated with any church to help them or have no family. What then? Obviously, such a person needs help. What about the man trying to support his family, but has been laid off through no fault of his own? Times can be bad, and purely through circumstance be in a very bad spot. But this man seeks only to have enough help to get him through this bad patch until he can get back on his feet. A temporary boost. This is something that we can all clearly sympathize with and acknowledge as a case where some help is necessary. After all, if a mother is widowed and she has children who need to be fed, but she can't find a job because she must watch them, what else is to be done? Suddenly most Rightists sound like Leftists! In such an event many Rightists would acknowledge that there need to be cuts, certainly, but would equally acknowledge the need to help those who are simply beyond normal help. They first advocate receiving help from friends, family and church, with government help as a last resort. But it is still a resort that may be reached, and thus there must be some level of government assistance for those who truly need it. To forego any and all help entirely, to the point that it is more akin to anarchy where everyone must fend for themselves, would be more than most could stand.

The lines blur, don't they? Now lets go to the Left and see the layers there.

On the Moderate Left you have those who believe many are in very difficult circumstances that need help from the government first and foremost. After all, not everyone has reliable friends, family or other organizations to help them where they live. These people are to receive help in the form of food stamps, government housing and medical help. Those on the Moderate Right can see this point of view and sympathize with it, but disagree on terms of how much of these things are received.

Go further Left. We see those who believe that government should not only supply the basics of life, but provide help with continued schooling and college. After all, college is a very important means of acquiring knowledge and securing a firm career with high pay to support ones self and family. Most of the Left agree with this. It requires raised taxes, but they see that as a duty and a privilege for the community as a whole.

Further still and we find the advocacy for government not only having a hand in many facets of life, but controlling them. They see the mistakes widely made by citizens and believe that control should be transferred to those in government and have a much larger hand in how people conduct their lives. Here we come to socialism. But you will find some Leftists a little worried when they learn that they will be taxed much more heavily for programs that do what they can do by themselves. After all, they are happy to help others by paying taxes, but not at the cost of being plunged into poverty themselves through taxes too heavy to be sustained.

Jump to the extreme of the Left and you find people advocating the confiscation of not just money through taxes, but personal property, cars and even homes! Here many Leftists will openly oppose such measures. It's one thing to help someone find a home, but to provide it by robbing others and throwing them on the street is another matter altogether. They find their pockets emptied through taxes, their purchases confiscated as being a waste of money and turned over to others, and most facets of their lives intruded upon. In fact some Leftists might eagerly assist this process through vandalizing and robbery. Other Leftists would be horrified as they see citizens and businesses pillaged and openly condemn such behavior. Others on their same side will suggest that those being robbed deserve it. It would be contested that yes, there are perhaps those who must give up some of what they own to help others, but to carry out such action through violence and destruction is unacceptable. Here it will be widely acknowledged that this is too far, and we see the elements of the same side divided amongst themselves.

See how the pendulum can swing so far from one side to the other, yet be pulled back by the side it is swinging towards? The extreme sides of both exist and must be reined in. Nor is this behavior limited only to government assistance. It applies to each and every issue we discuss politically.

In fact, far from being simple Left or Right, there is a field of overlap and varying degrees of political belief. It comes in degrees, not absolutes. To visualize this concept, now look at what we have.

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Here we have a vast and wide color gradient. Now imagine that this represents all political leanings of different degrees from Left to Right, Up and Down, and you have a very real idea of what actual political leanings are like for individuals, not just groups. It is a vast spectrum. The further to the sides you get, the more extreme the belief. The closer to the middle, the more moderate. Now when you hear that someone considers themselves a Leftist, ask yourself, what kind of Leftist? How extreme or moderate are their beliefs? Same for the Rightists.

People are infinitely more complex than one simple word. In fact, even in the examples I've given of ever growing complexity, it's possible that it might become more complex still. This I can't illustrate. Perhaps I haven't even thought of it yet. These show only political leanings. But there is so much more outside of those. What is the mentality of the individual? Their upbringing? Their family? Friends? What are they afraid of? What do they like? What do they hate? Such things are all pieces of what makes up an individual person and can't be captured in any sort of graph or model.

Often in the brutal political climate today we divide ourselves on very simplistic and limiting criteria. We grow more and more aggressive towards those we perceive to be our enemies from the simple virtue of the fact that they are on a different side. It is a very dangerous thing to stray towards any extreme. Not only does it dehumanize others, but it will force your opponents to take equally extreme positions. A universal law of physics is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Politics is no exception.

I noticed this especially in the last election. I'd always considered myself very far on the Right. But then suddenly strange extremists came about and I found myself identifying as a moderate. Likewise there were many on the Left who found the continuing extremes of their side becoming distasteful and frightening. In fact, the majority of the country didn't vote for either candidate.

Through this article I hope to emphasize the humanity of all sides. Don't look at others as less than human because they believe differently from you. Don't brand all with the stamp of one side or the other. They may in fact have much more in common with you than you realize.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sure-Fire Solution to Stop School Shootings

Folks, I have the one and only true way to not only keep school shootings from happening ever again, but also eliminate school bullying and child-molesting teachers without spending a single cent!

How you ask? Quite simple! I'm actually surprised nobody else has suggested it. Get rid of schools!

It's just as reasonable as all the policies I've heard from other people. Bad things happen a few times with something, get rid of it altogether. That's the reasonable thing, right? Plus this way we save billions of dollars annually on taxes, teachers unions, lots of time on driving kids to and from school, no more stupid fund raisers or band. Best of all, no homework! We can all fall-back on homeschooling with online tests. The benefits are limitless!

Come on everyone! Let's work to ban schools with their intelligence shaming, sex shaming, teen shaming, shame shaming, the whole kit and caboodle. After all, it is for the children!

Monday, February 19, 2018

War Of The Worlds: Goliath

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War of the Worlds: Goliath
I could have sworn I posted a review for this movie, but evidently not! Well, better late than never.
War of the Worlds: Goliath is an awesome action adventure movie where after humanity got rocked by the first Martian invasion, they got their act together and are now ready for round two.

Plot is pretty straight forward. The best soldiers of all nations have been pulled into an anti-Martian military group called A.R.E.S, given the biggest and baddest weapons humanity has to offer including a bunch of reverse-engineered Martian weapons with the help of Nikola Tesla, who is required to be involved in all steampunk settings as required by law. Actually, the human tripods are extremely cool. Very different in design from the fluid and curvy Martian tripods, the three classes of human models are all human in design and look remarkably real.

Fantastic airship

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Body of the Achilles-Class human Tripod

In truth, the amount of effort put into the designs and world building of this movie is phenomenal. The weapons, vehicles, equipment, absolutely everything is well done. I love looking at the concept art and schematics for everything. This is on par with the amount of thought put into Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Except this has less princesses and more death.

The year is 1914 and governments around the world are preparing for the first World War, while A.R.E.S. soldiers and their leader, good ol' Teddy Roosevelt ignore the politics and prepare for a second Martian invasion which seems imminent.

The characters are mostly archetypes. They aren't completely throwaway, but not terribly compelling either. But each of the main characters are given their moments to shine, so there is indeed some sense of anxiety when they are in danger, which is quite often.

During the first major training exercise with their new tripods our heroes come face to face with the first probing force of the second Martian invasion, and it's here that we find out that despite the animation style, this isn't a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, one of the best things I can say about this movie is that it feels like real war. People die left and right, but it's not because of them being stupid. The Martians are a genuine threat. Their tripods are bigger, better armored and have vastly greater offensive power than anything humanity has. They shrug off machine gun and rifle fire, and require repeated hits from even heavy cannons and missiles to go down.

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Martian Tripods

Often our heroes survive simply because the Martians didn't target them. At any moment their heat rays might turn toward them, and from there it's just one sickly green ray of dazzling energy to send them into oblivion. This is actually probably the most violent animated movie I've seen since Turok: Son of Stone. You don't just see humans vanish in a puff of smoke when hit with a heat ray. You see them vaporized layer by layer. First the clothing and skin goes, then the muscle, and lastly the skeleton, all reduced to ash in a matter of seconds as they howl in agony. Its sodding violent. This is NOT a kids movie.

The combat isn't highly choreographed or graceful. It feels like real combat, chaotic and confused. Things blowing up all around you, people screaming in pain, but you just keep firing at the enemy and hope that you can kill them before they turn their weapons on you. It really feels like just a roll of the dice if someone lives or dies, even if they are really skilled or in good positions.

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Martian Fighter

Most of the movie is action, with pauses to let us take a breath now and then. Decent pacing and great visuals make it an awesome popcorn movie. But if you want deep intellectual stimulation you'd best look elsewhere. However this movie nails what it wants to do almost perfectly.

It would be a crime not to talk about the animation. It looks like a blend of anime and Saturday morning cartoon styles. The character designs display this best. The faces and especially the eyes are angular and exaggerated. The bodies on the other hand are swollen with muscle and the clothing vacuum sealed around them so that you see every single inch of their physique. This results in an interesting melding of 80's style GI Joe and more streamlined but exaggerated anime, although it definitely leans more towards the former. I find the style overall very interesting, partly because this was actually a Malaysian production. Huh.

Regardless if you're a fan of animation or not, there is no doubt that this animation is top notch. It's magnificently smooth and fluid, and overall matches the setting and tone perfectly. Even if you aren't interested in War of the Worlds, this movie is a visual buffet. Not a cent was wasted in making this look as good as possible. Others more knowledgeable in animation than myself might very well wish to take a look at this if only to analyze it.

It's also fair to mention that although it is very action schlock, there is a definite feeling that it respects the original source material written by HG Wells. The main character is British, and if you've read the book you will notice all sorts of details that are kept in this movie. The look of the aliens is spot on. Their tripods really feel like they are alive like in the book, moving fluidly with tendrils waving about unceasingly like an organism that is rather unsettling.

It is fair to mention that although we never hear the Martians speak or anything like that, I do feel like some of them have a bit of personality and sadism just displayed through their actions. One tripod lets a lone human shoot at it, letting the bullets bounce off harmlessly, just waiting for him to run out of ammunition as if its amused with the futile attempt of doing it harm. It patiently waits for him to run dry and then methodically vaporizes him. You can almost see the Martian inside gloating with this smug sense of superiority.

In the end fight another Tripod kills a soldier as painfully as it can, wrapping the tendrils around his midsection and collapsing his ribcage. It could have simply vaporized him or snapped his neck, but instead took the time to inflict as much pain as it could. To me this really says that the Martians enjoy inflicting pain and see humanity as being far beneath them. This could very well simply be me seeing something that isn't there, but it made me enjoy the flick that much more.

I really do recommend purchasing this. Even if the movie is lukewarm for some of you, the disc set comes with all sorts of bonus material that I was only too happy to look at. Schematics for human and Martian technology, concept art, and even other stories told comic book style that really had some emotional bite to them.

It's well worth a look. You can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/2FgwQak

If you're wondering, I'm not getting paid to pimp this out. I simply believe it's a movie worthy of attention. This never got a theatrical release and is more of an underground movie. It made less than one hundred thousand dollars according to the box office reports, which is a horrible shame for something like this. They put a gigantic amount of effort into this production. I can tell the makers really cared and I want their effort to pay off.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Son of Kong

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Son of Kong!

I'm a shameless Kong fan. I watched the almighty crap out of the original as a kid. It kindled my love for black and white movies and stop motion, just as it did for countless viewers when it first came out in 1933. I thought I was one of the more informed fans. But as it turns out, a sequel exists called Son of Kong, released the same year!

After doing a bit of research I found that it is a very poorly received movie. But having just watched it, I can't say that it's a bad movie honestly. I think much of the backlash comes from the simple fact that it's a sequel to King Kong, one of the most epic movies ever made. That's a very high bar to meet. So by comparison even a half-decent movie will feel poor when put side by side with King Kong.

So what is Son of Kong about? Well, it's a direct sequel, almost months after the events of the first movie. Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll got their happily ever after, but not Carl Denham, the movie maker who led the ship to Skull Island in the first place and brought Kong to New York. He is being sued by everyone in New York and their dog for damages. He is harassed day and night by reporters, complainers and summons to court. But Captain Engelhorn, who is in the same boat as Carl, invites him to elope with a skeleton crew and do business in the Pacific Ocean, and hopefully evade prison.

To skip ahead a bit, they end up on an island with the man who first gave Carl the map to Skull Island, Captain Helstrom, who we immediately recognize as a scoundrel, and a young lady, Hilda. Both have fallen on hard times and join aboard the ship. Helstrom, who has nothing to his name and desperate to evade authorities after accidentally murdering Hilda's dad, tells Carl that there is treasure on Skull Island and attempts to usurp the crew and ship for himself.

Now, a word is in store for the love interest, Hilda. She's not Ann Darrow. Somehow she has a lot more daring and strength to her. I really like her. In fact when we first see her, she is performing for a tiny audience and is a poor singer. But Carl doesn't care. He puts it best when she shows up. "Who cares? She's got personality!" And she does. As much as I love the original King Kong, Ann Darrow never felt that good to me. This gal is fun. She knows Helstrom conked out her dad, but she doesn't bat an eye when he threatens her. She doesn't cowtow to anyone, yet isn't annoying in her headstrong behavior.

She and Carl actually get along quite naturally. Carl is given a lot more depth in this movie. Aside from feeling bad about being in crippling debt, he genuinely feels bad for what happened to Kong. He knows he screwed up, got people hurt, and got one of the most amazing creatures in the world killed. But he's trying to do better. He sees potential in Hilda and tries to give her inspiration to keep going even when things are bad. It's not even that he's in love with her at first. He genuinely respects her as a person with potential to do better things, and even when she stows away on the ship he can't help but admire her guts.

The ship heads back to Skull Island in the hopes of finding the treasure and making a profit. But it's all a ploy by Helstrom, who gets the crew to turn against Engelhorn and Denham. Once they arrive at the island the crew forces them along with Hilda and Charlie, the Chinese cook from the original, off into a life boat to fend for themselves on the island. I think even Charlie is given a bit of a spotlight in this one, and I like it. He actually chooses to join the others on the island rather than join the scoundrels in mutiny, and even had the foresight to stow some guns and ammunition aboard. And thank heavens, he doesn't die.

But when Helstrom tries putting himself in charge, the new communist crew isn't having any of it and throw him off, and now has to put in with those who he first betrayed. Worse yet, when they first land the chief and villagers from the original, and they aren't the least bit happy to see these familiar faces, and make absolutely no bones about how displeased they are. They have no choice but to land beyond the wall near Skull Mountain where only one area is available to actually tie off. And here's the second reason I think this movie was so poorly received, even now. The movie is ninety minutes, and it's only here at the forty minute mark that we are at the island and see Son of Kong. And his son is NOT a gorilla tyrant.

First time we see him, he's tiny by comparison and stuck in quicksand.

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The Terror of Skull Island stuck in quicksand
Yeah, he isn't exactly the same as his dad. Little Kong is a silly, almost comedic, genial ape the size of Mighty Joe Young. This is probably what most people don't like about this movie. Little Kong isn't the mighty force of nature that challenged the world that King Kong was. And yet, I can't say that I hate him. In fact, I actually sort of like the contrast. Little Kong is endearing. He can still fight, yet he often drops his guard and assumes that he's won a fight once his opponent stops moving, often leading to him getting hurt. In this way I think he is much more lifelike, very different from his dad, and yet distinctly his own. Some of his expressions made me laugh out loud just because of how goofy they were. At one point he looks right at the camera and shrugs his shoulders.

There is a moment that is genuinely heartfelt however. After a big fight Little Kong has a big gash on his middle finger. Hilda wants to thank him for saving them and provides part of her dress as a bandage, and Carl, genuinely regretting getting King Kong killed, talks to the ape and bandages his finger. The finger that is injured however is unintentionally hilarious. Even so it illustrates how Carl has changed and is actually pretty nice.

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Little Kong uses sign language

But I did notice a distinct drop in stop motion quality. A few times the movement is way to fast and choppy, but it's not bad either. I will commend the use of new critters though, such as a giant cave bear, styracosaurus and others.

Carl and Hilda find young Kong trapped, and feeling the need to make up for what he did to King Kong, Carl pushes a tree over to help him escape, which works. Little Kong becomes greatly attached to the little group from this point on, helping them fight beasts that menace them or find food. It really is quite endearing. But his attempts at trying to communicate is rather awkward, and something about his head is a little off. It's difficult to explain unless you see it.

Something I really like is that they set up camp by some ruins, and Carl is ecstatic at the idea that this is where the treasure is. Lo and behold, there is treasure there! The look of the temple is actually very neat and gives us some hope that Carl and company can come out okay after this adventure.

Although I can't help but mention a point where Little Kong grabs Carl's shotgun and plays with it. He looks down the barrels, sticks it in his mouth, and does everything possible to make me, someone paranoid about gun safety, and I genuinely cried out. Oi.

Then it gets weird. Helstrom decides to rush to the boat to escape to nowhere, and suddenly out of nowhere an earthquake strikes. But evidently this is the most epic tectonic activity since Pangea split up because this event is the apocalypse for Skull Island, which not only shakes apart but falls under the ocean. As far as we know, all of the animals and natives drown horribly, including Little Kong, who heroically holds Carl above the water long enough for his friends to row over and rescue him. This is the one part that I really didn't like. It comes out of nowhere, Little Kong is dead, and the entire population of the island is exterminated. It left me feeling sad.

But it ends on a positive note. Helstrom is fittingly dead, and Carl rescued a handful of gold and diamonds, enough to set the rest of them up for life, split between himself, Engelhorn, Charlie and Hilda. But Hilda thinks that three shares will be plenty. One share for Engelhorn, one for Charlie, and one for her and Carl together. This helps salvage the ending in my opinion. It felt quite natural and earned.

Does Son of Kong match up to the original? No. But it is still a fun and well made movie. Few movies of that era could hope to match King Kong. In fact, Son of Kong is fitting in multiple ways. It's a smaller, less impressive version of its dad, more goofy, but still tries hard and makes itself likable. If you're a Kong fan, I would really recommend giving it at least one viewing. You'll find something to like.

You can actually buy it and the original at Walmart together for only five dollars. Or, alternatively, you can watch it at the following link: http://bit.ly/2EyiaWC

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fifty Shades of Weinstein

I've never cared to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey because, well, what's the point? It's an extraordinarily poorly conceived concept that should have died on the internet where it started. And no, I haven't read the book or seen the movies. You may wonder what ground I have to stand on for criticism, but after analyzing things for so long you pick up on things. If you see a man with a corpse in front of him and blood dripping from his mouth, you don't need to have a conversation to have a pretty good idea that he's messed up in the head.

But what has shocked me is not only has it made astonishing amounts of money and is getting a third movie, but how accepted it is by so many. And people wonder how people like Weinstein can get away with the evil that they so brazenly commit. The two are pretty similar. One is somehow considered romantic, the other appalling.

Isn't this weird? I'm thankfully not the only one who thinks that the entire premise of Grey is overflowing with crap, and others far more eloquent than myself have dissected this abomination and pointed out in detail what makes it so bad. In fact, so bad is it that even the community its meant to appeal to hates it. You know you've screwed up when the BDSM community thinks you're product is sick and morally bankrupt.

And yet this is coming out in the wake of the fanatical purging of sexual predators from Hollywood and Washington. Weinstein was just the tip of the iceberg. When that broke I was cynically unsurprised. Although I haven't looked into the history of the film industry that closely, the people who heavily inhabit the area aren't exactly known for being super virtuous. That's not meant to sound judgmental, but when dealing with people who actively shun the concepts of chastity, modesty and other old fashioned concepts, you can't help but expect to have things go south.

Plenty of elites have been rushed to the metaphorical guillotine, and rightfully so. I'm right on board with them, drinking a cup of Sprite as these detestable predators are exposed as the monsters they are and torn down. But yet somehow Fifty Shades is okay. What's with the double standard?

I don't claim to be an expert on romance. Such things have most often felt distant to me. But I do know what romance isn't. Romance involves mutual respect and chemistry, building each other up and solving problems together. Kinky stuff behind closed doors? That can work if they're into it, sure. But not if the above mentioned isn't present. If it's through stalking, coercion, money and force, that isn't romance. That's a sexual predator.

I can't help but feel that somehow we've regressed as a society. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had a much better and intelligent romance story, one of my favorites actually. And that was made in the fifties and involved kidnapping. But it explored the nuances of power, morality in dealing with the opposite gender, how to behave, and most importantly, having the base respect for your partner. It carefully explores the differences between superficial affection and genuine bonding.

I blame a lot of this heavily on the weird results of the sexual liberation movement. Okay, there have been people who took moderation to the extreme, especially back in the day when the only skin women were allowed to show was their faces and hands. But now the pendulum is swinging to the opposite extreme, with disastrous results.

A lot of these movies shamelessly push self gratification. It's easy and appeals to the most base instincts. That's not to say that older forms of media didn't use attractive men and women to draw audiences. They absolutely did. But these were more often done with class. Not always, but more often. Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of my favorite writers, often had his heroines wearing quite little. A bold idea in his time. For example, Dejah Thoris in A Princess of Mars. Yet this is contrasted with her royal bearing and self respect and John Carter, the story's hero, acting as a complete gentleman towards her, being protective and seeking desperately for her respect. In fact a running theme throughout the books Burroughs wrote the villains were the men who leered covetously at women and tried to deprive them of their virtue, while the heroes were respectful and wouldn't lay a finger on the heroines without their permission.

Congratulations Hollywood, you can't compete with an amateur writer's first book from a hundred years ago.

Having read a considerable volume of older books, I've most often noticed a sense of dignity in which the writers regarded women. Granted, they were often bewitchingly beautiful and not always given the most depth, but there was a sense that they had a value to them as people. The damsel in distress was of course in full swing, but the heroes usually felt as if they were fighting to protect someone of value, to be kept pure even things were bad. There was the impression that sex was something to be earned after the emotional and moral values had been secured. But not today. There's been an unnerving change in which men and women seem stripped of that sense of self respect and are now more akin to dolls to be oggled and serve as fodder for fantasies.

Here, try an experiment. Watch horror B Movies from the fifties like Creature from the Black Lagoon, and then look at Michael Bay movies. Look at how the camera focuses on the female characters. How the men act around them. You'll see what I mean.

This comes down to a basic perception of how people should be treated, not just media, nor even sexual relations. Today self gratification is an exalted virtue. This inevitably leads to gratification at the expense of others. However, I don't think Weinstein and his ilk were necessarily influenced by movies. No, they simply didn't care that what they were doing was wrong. So what if the women were unwilling? They wanted to feel pleasure, and they were willing to get it regardless of how others felt.

Which wheels us back to Fifty Shades. What in those movies shows that there is any sort of respect or caring on the part of either person? What value of their person is shown? None. None whatsoever. The supposed romance is just superficial. It's colorful wrapping paper around a rattlesnake. And this garbage is only further pushing the ideas of self gratification at the expense of others. Regardless of your political persuasion, we must all agree that this essential respect of others is paramount to a healthy society.

I apologize if this post is a bit hectic, but I bashed it out on a whim brought about by news of the latest crappy movie coming out. I hope that it gets the point across though. With any luck the movie will be a titanic flop.