Sunday, August 31, 2008
Ah, writing. A storm has been rumbling all day over Halifax. The rain and wind are a cold couple, and the thunder is a trumpet call. For what? Well, the times are changing, of course. I finished my job with the YMCA on Friday. My job as Opinions Editor for the Dalhousie Gazette "started" a while back, but has gone to top priority now that the summer gig is up. I don't miss the kids, but I do hope I run in to them sometime ... knowing Halifax, I will. I'll keep my eyes open in grocery stores and movie cinemas from now on. My wisdom teeth come out on Tuesday and classes start on Thursday, so tomorrow is the last day in a long time I will be able to enjoy both empty time and solid foods, together. I intend to make the most of it. And journalism! I find it so hard to pick courses that aren't journalism related, and yet I get so many electives! I don't know what to do. If Dal had a fine arts department, I would take something creative. I don't want to have to write an academic paper, ever. Clayton and Paul's professor from the History department has been staying with us this weekend. She is cool, but the way she talks about Clayton and Paul's research papers ... I don't think I can do it. I don't have the attention span or the concentration. And yet I would hate to be bad at it, so I would kill myself to write a good one. In my mind, it does not sound like a pleasurable experience. It is a skill I would like to have, but not really as urgently as I would like to learn mandolin, crochet, welding, photo developing, quilting, farming and portuguese. Academic writing: not top priority. You can quote me on that.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
I don't like war movies. I think it was in grade 11 film class, my teacher said that to film a Hollywood military sequence you have two options: buy your own tanks, or borrow the army's. Weapons being one of the most expensive props to acquire, most choose to borrow. But the military has to then approve you use of them in the film. They can censor scenes, lines or plot elements that don't portray them in a positive light (Paul, you will like this list of films that didn't get funding from the Pentagon).
Thus, we watched Top Gun that year, as an illustration of my teacher's point. The sexy heroes shooting the nameless, foreign masked villains that talked weird. The army recruitment booths set up outside the cinemas on opening weekend.
Even though Apocalypse Now didn't exactly have army-recruitment-booth potential, I didn't enjoy it. I don't like movies about men in uniforms: can't keep them straight, can't care about them as characters. The battle scenes are disorienting, dark, miserable, and repetitive. I can keep track of battle scenes in LOTR mainly because the combatants are of so many different species. Even Star Wars battle scenes confuse me, as the clone armies switch alleagiances half-way through the series.
Maybe it is because war movies are always about MEN. I don't mind movies about one man, or containing several, but the central theme of war movies and the military in general is manhood. What is is or isn't, how it expresses itself, what an all male culture looks like, what relationships between men can be when the people are stripped to the bare minimum of who they are, when they are tortured, when they die or kill.
It just isn't INTERESTING to me anymore, this permanent study of males. As a theme, I feel it has been exhausted. Because war is always portrayed as riddled with dichotomies... right/wrong, good/bad ... there are only two ways you can go (or, four: it you count good but appearing bad, and bad but appearing good on top of the regular old good and bad guys). Even when the movie doesn't answer the question, the question is old.
I hate how Hollywood defines how we think of wars. It is the most horrible thing we humans are capable of, and we don't even know the truth about this part of our souls. But there is some sick cultural fascination with it.
I said yesterday I might give another war movie a chance someday if it weren't made by Americans (or Canadians). I only remember seeing one Polish movie, about pilots in WWII. And one French movie about Christmas in the trenches of WWI. But they didn't redeem anything in my mind, although they didn't make me sick to my stomach, at least.
I think it is the combination of love of country and pride in malehood that just make the war genre unsavory to me.
I can't put my finger on it completely. Any thoughts?