Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Filler - Circa 1995

Due to a lack of submissions, I decided to punish the reader. I dug up some old college papers of mine from 1995. (When reading, try to keep in mind, I was 19). I decided to go with a piece I called "Powers and Castro, Paradise or Hell?". It was written while I attended George Mason University. The piece is a response to a film review by John Powers titled "The wrong stuff: 'Apollo 13' has taken off at the box office, but the film only skims the surface of its story" which appeared in the Washington Post on July 9th, 1995, page G1. I do not have my piece in electronic form, although I decided after retyping it, to scan it and put a link to it at the bottom of this post. I have Draft 1 and Draft 2 and have decided to go with Draft 2. That which is crossed out in Draft 2 I will not type (but you can see it in the scanned version, complete with teacher comments and my B-), so the reader can get an idea what a Draft 3 might have looked like. Because of this, the piece does not flow properly everywhere (this can again be remedied by looking at the scanned version), although, even with the invective my writing was terrifically weak. I like to think I am much better at it now. While reading, know that I mean it when I say, if I do not get some good submissions for next week, you will see a fascinating post on the Gamelan (written by my wife about 10 years ago for a college music class). Without further delay...

Draft II Powers and Castro, Paradise or Hell?

In the beginning of John Powers' review of the film, "Apollo 13", Mr. Powers describes a very exciting film. He begins "Apollo 13 has the makings of a masterpiece" and continues, "Its hard to imagine a story that's richer or more profound-here are men who see the dark side of infinity." Apparently he felt he needed to be the one reviewer in the Western world who despised the film, and saw an inherent evil in its script. At one point in the beginning of his review he asks "... you might find yourself wondering about the point of the whole journey." After reading this review, I found myself wondering what his point was. After a second reading, it became apparent.

John Powers, who attempts to describe the film as a platform for right-wing, reactionaries, suffers from that affliction which currently is sweeping the media and the Ivy League elite. That affliction is, in a hyphenated word, Liberal-Guilt. Liberal-guilt is simply an attempt by those who unconsciously realize the damage done by their policies, socially. Those who took FDR's New Deal to new and exaggerated levels are prime candidates for this affliction. His guilt stems from his inability to stop America's wrongs, and his participation in the destruction of society.

The author describes what he sees as a "... Republican parable about 1995 America...". He mentions in the same paragraph that it was a "... team of heroic white men." who were responsible for saving the astronauts. Well perhaps Mr. Powers would insist that the film-maker abide by the liberal establishment's affirmitive action policies and hire a minority regardless of historical fact. In his next paragraph, Powers attacks the film's historical authenticity with only the point that the cinematographer chose not to include certain historical events. He accuses the film of not being long enough, extensive enough, "correct" enough, and liberal enough. Here is prime example of this (what the new-age psychological experts would call a disease) neurosis. Perhaps Mr. Powers feels, in hindsight, that he and those of his political persuasion did not do enough to stop the "Vietnam Conflict." Perhaps, if he could go back, and stop the "sexual revolution" which brought so many diseases into the 6th grader's normal vocabulary, he would. Perhaps, when he sees a teenager in the 90's wearing bell-bottoms, and platform shoes, he feels a sense of remorse for what he and his generation did to fashion in the 20th century. Maybe Mr. Powers even feels guilty for not responding to the Kent State shootings as he, clearly a concerned American should have, with due retaliation against a tyrannical regime. I am not here to argue about the significance of historical events through which I did not live. And the real point Mr. Powers fails to grasp, is that neither is this film. One is forced to wonder if Powers wants a fictitious story-line just to satisfy his desire to see his own brand of "correct" history told.

Later in this "review", Powers states that the film "... doesn't even ask the rudimentary questions about the astronauts' inner lives. What does going to the moon really mean to Jim Lovell (Hanks)?" Sadly for Mr. Powers, it would appear he was one of the few people not to see that indeed, the film depicted exactly what it meant to Lovell. It meant everything to him. That was his one desire and goal. It consumed him, and ate at him, if he could not be the first, then by God he would at least be one of the few. Just because Mr. Powers did not understand the film, does not make it acceptable for him to bash it so vigorously. Perhaps someone should tell him, that its ok if he didn't get it. But this continuous bashing shows his inability to understand a story that is so real, and shows his lack of grounding in reality, which makes one wonder "Where is John Powers?"

At the end of Powers' virtual treatise on the demise of American film-making, he chooses to make an argument one would expect to find in a sociology journal. He mentions his "signiphobia" theory. While one may or may not agree with what Powers believes is a national epidemic, his review miserably fails in proving that point. Indeed, Powers ends his review with "Hollywood, we have a problem." And in response I feel compelled to say, "yes, we need to jettison YOU into space."

Original paper