Monday, June 23, 2008

Fiction and Life

I'm reading a book called Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger. It's the first mass market fiction I've gotten to read in quite some time, since my reading is not usually for pleasure while in school. So far it hasn't insulted my intelligence and is as entertaining as watching a puzzly detective drama on TV. But without the gruesome graphic violence.

Yesterday I was so upset by all the corruption I have seen lately in the town where I live, that I could not even watch the movies we rented. We started Freedomland, with Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson. I thought it was a thriller about a mom whose car got hijacked with her child in it (bad enough) but then I realized it was developing into a race riot movie, where "ordinary" non-criminal types reveal their hideous souls in racism and prejudice and hate crime. I burst into tears and Fred turned it off.

Then we put in Untraceable with Diane Lane, about cyber crimes. I thought I could handle it (I made it through the kitten murder) until the killer caught and began torturing a man, grainy close-up of his suffering face. More tears. Off goes the DVD player.

All I could think about with Freedomland is how cops assume young boys are guilty of crimes, more so if they're poor, more so if they're black. All this happens until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. And all I could think about with Untraceable is that we as an audience are supposed to care less because the murder victim was a man, instead of a kitten or a little girl. What makes men especially young men disposable in our culture? What about the mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and lovers of these disposable young men? I feel a bit of the profiling that people of color must feel. Around here my child is in the disposable group, somehow. Skater? Critical thinker? Labeled now as a bad kid and for his safety my family must move.

Finally we put in a movie I bought Friday at a yard sale, Erin Brockovich. She was trying to take care of her family but she got labeled by people for the way she dressed and spoke. Then she found her cause, her crusade, and her bold tongue and bright mind helped to win the largest lawsuit in US history. What a badass! Erin Brockovich needs to come deal with the police in this town and the school administrators. The more I find out about the ugliness, how deep it goes, the sicker and more paralyzed and silenced I become.

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