This is the New YEAR

Nate P. writes on how much “Gibson’s cartoon Jesus film” draws on action movie clichés.

Some of the undergrads in my dining hall were making fun of this scene [the "Resurrection scene"] the other day, saying that it’s almost as if Gibson were leaving himself room to make “J2: The Return.” And they’re exactly right. The last scene of the film exactly follows that action movie motif — it’s less Resurrection than it is Terminator or Lethal Weapon.

But I have been struck at how much the film relies upon pretty standard Hollywood visual motifs (in addition to the classical anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews and so forth) to tell its story. It really is the story of Jesus filtered through an action film. And just like with the anti-Semitic imagery and so forth, i wonder how much of it was unwitting acquiesence on Gibson’s part. It’s almost as if he did this without any awareness of the lineages of the various ways of portraying certain types of events.

Michael Feldman writes about unemployment in America.

All of these categories describe people who have stopped looking for jobs and are no longer counted in the “official” unemployment figures. Obviously, an economy as large and as powerful as ours can afford carrying a certain percentage of its population in non-productive roles, and a certain percentage of its production outside the normal channels of regulation and taxation. It is equally clear, however, that as these percentages grow it creates a drag on the economy which will eventually hurt overall performance.

What seems to us the more serious problem is the national attitude of denial which the artificially low government unemployment numbers embody. As though those half million people who drop out of the labor market each month don’t exist, or don’t count anyhow. Those millions of men and women, and the children, old people and pets that depend on them, represent stories of heroic struggle, dashed hopes, tragic surrender to illegal or immoral behavior, the failure of social safety nets, and the elusiveness of the American dream.

If you choose to stop looking for a job, how is that my problem? If these voters should do anything, they should ban minimum wage so that more jobs will be created when companies are allowed to hire based on what people deserve.

Michael Feldman tells another of his amazing stories.

Unfortunately, several of the workers at the Polytechnic lab, including the lady doctor who actually examined Number 5, met untimely ends just at that time, and when Jack went back for the results and the skeletons, guess what? No one seemed able to find Number 5. Gone, vanished, out and about? Who knows?

Jesus, it gives us the creeps just remembering this story. We are literally sitting here shivering and sweating as the memories come flooding back. A good time for a stiff drink, and we hate alcohol. Perhaps someday we will be able to write down all the truly horrifying details of this bad trip, but quite frankly 20 years is not enough distance to feel completely at ease. After all, Number 5 might be a regular reader of the Dowbrigade News.

AKMA writes about post-modernism and The Passion.

If Mel Gibson were a confirmed anti-Semite who wanted to make a film that would engender hatred of Jews around the world, how well would we say that he did? I cited a number of problems with the film yesterday, and I stand by those criticisms; at a number of turns, Gibson’s directorial vision (informed by his interest in the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich) shapes the visual and narrative force of the passion in ways that foreground Judaic responsibility for Christ’s suffering. That’s bad, and pernicious, and Gibson ought to have had the wisdom to temper his production so as to preserve its strengths while eschewing these unnecessary, inflammatory flourishes. I’m not as comfortable with the film as my estimable overseas colleague Mark Goodacre, who finds that the complaint of anti-Judaism “has been at best greatly overstated.” Mark’s a fine, subtle reader and an expert on Jesus films, but I part company with him here; I think that the scholarly response to The Passion has rightly found serious problems with the significance of the ways Gibson represents Jews and Judaism.

Cynthia Rockwell on Sophia Coppola:

But I have to say that just as I predicted, Sophia Coppola is indeed proving to be an auteur, dealing with the same strains in each of her films. Pro-magic, pro-mystery, that’s her thing. We don’t hear what Bill Murray whispers to her in the end. Mystery. She sings “I’m special,” at karaoke. The sex club is garish–too much information, no mystery. Japan is buffooned but also made attractively mysterious, and she never wants to go back again–because it’ll never be so mysterious again. Familiarity ruins the mystique. Bill Murray’s wifey is obsessed with real-world details–carpets, cabinets, kids, birthdays–and therefore there is no mystery. (It was all the same in Virgin Suicides, the girls were mysteries even to themselves, and jesus fucking christ did that piss me off. Attempt some understanding, fuckers. Don’t preserve women in some fucking mysterious glass case. Especially if you’re a woman directing the goddamn movie.)

Cynthia is teh smarts.

Chip Gibbons explains why obeying the law vehemently is not required of “adults.”

Obedience is not required of adults, it is usually required of children. Since when is the test for adulthood that you don’t break laws or challenge authority? Since when is the test for adulthood that you wait for permission? The capacity to reason is a better test for adulthood. And there is no reason in a supposedly free country for individuals to accept having their lives and their freedom held captive by others who use obedience as the litmus test for adulthood. Where obedience is the test, there are no adults, because there are no rational individuals.

Rational adults make mutually benefitial contracts with each other, honor those contracts and accept responsiblity for them. Children look to be lead and told what to do.

Ross posts pictures from Rome. Wooo.

Anil Dash explains Karma a bit.

Most people in western societies don’t understand the concept of karma very well, or at least they don’t articulate it in a way that’s consistent with its traditional spiritual meaning. Naturally, as a bit of a pedant, it seems important to me to correct this misconception. Karma is something that happens on the scale of multiple lifetimes, like evolution, not shorthand for “payback is a bitch”. Of course, that’s something a bit vague in a culture like ours where “forever” is usually used to represent “until I die” as opposed to, well, forever. Still, it’s an important distinction.