Archive for the ‘746’ Category

27 Dresses and The Great Story

June 1, 2008

   My wife and I watched “27 Dresses” the other night. As usual, several times during the movie I was moved to tears. Afterwards, my wife asked me what I liked so much about this movie in particular, and this genre of movies – romantic comedies – even more in particular.

   I had to think about it. I’ve seen a lot of RCs over the years, from “Pretty Woman” to “Working Girl” to “Must Love Dogs” to “Music and Lyrics.” In fact, if there’s one out there that I haven’t seen, sometimes many times, it’s probably because everyone on earth told me it was a dud. If only one person out of a thousand, said, “Yeah, I liked it,” I’m there.

   So how to answer my wife? She suggested, “Is it the pretty girls with big you know whats – is that it? Them wiggling around and hanging out all over?”

   I laughed. “Not really. I have you for all those things.”

   That made her smile. But then I said, “You know, I think it has something to do with seeing a girl triumph in the end, get the man, win, succeed, all that.  I think women have been so beaten down by the world that it’s good to see one of them win, at least on the screen.” 

   She scoffed. “But you know nothing about real women, how we think, how we feel inside. Why is it that you love watching these women so much in contrast to reality?”
   Was I that much of a dolt? Sheesh, I’m only a guy.

   Yet, it was a good question and I said, after much thought, “I think it’s kind of that on the screen you have a simple structure. Men can ‘get’ the woman in a way that doesn’t happen in real life. You know probably within the first few minutes of the film what she really wants, what she’s going after, what she’s all about. There’s no guessing. There’s no looking at her face and trying to figure out if she’s angry, or frustrated, or totally in love, or what. You know by the way the movie unfolds everything she’s thinking and feeling. And I think some men like that. Like me. For once, we feel like we understand and even know this person. In contrast to most of our encounters with women in real life.” 

   She had to think about that. But I had more. “I think there’s a bigger explanation, though.” 

   She gave me those deep, green, mysterious eyes for a second. “Hit me with it.” 

   “Well, I think human history is the Great Story of all great stories. God is writing this incredible story with twists, turns, knock-downs, horrible sins, and so on. But God has shown us in the Bible that there’s a happy ending. That the good guys – and girls – win in the end. That evil does not triumph. See, when directors try to do movies that are ambiguous, or where evil wins in the end, or where no one wins, they usually fail. We as people intrinsically want to see good triumph. We want to see the good people win. We like getting there, too. Seeing them down at the bottom with nowhere to look but up. We like to see them pounded down a little. But in the end, we want a win.” 

   She nodded and sank down on the bed. “I guess it makes some sense.” 

   “Of course it does. I always make ‘some’ sense. It’s the archetypical story. It’s why so many stories are like that. Person has a problem. The problem gets worse. He or she can’t solve it on their own. People reach out to them. They join forces. At some point, it looks so bleak, you think there’s no way. Then they pull the rabbit out of the hat, and everything is perfect. For the last few seconds of the story, anyway.” 

   She laughed. “So what you want is simple women you can understand, and a happily ever after ending, and you’re happy?” 

   “Yeah, and usually crying too.” 

   “Well, it’s a pretty standard Hollywood formula. Books, novels, too, as you said. The archetype. I guess God has built that desire, conviction, whatever you want to call it, into us. And we react to anything not like that with rejection and sometimes even anger. I get that. I think really almost everything relies on that principle at some point. Except people like Oliver Stone and the weirdo movie directors and writers who insist on telling us the world is a horrible place, there’s no good, and we all lose in the end.” 

   “Right.”  

This Infernal War

April 1, 2008

    Okay, let’s grant that most of us want this war in Iraq and other places to end. We don’t want more casualties, we don’t want to spend more trillions. We all feel it should have been won long ago. Some claim, even Sen. John McCain himself, the war has been mismanaged until recently. A large bloc of voters believe we never should have gone there in the first place. 

   But here are some questions that I’m asking in my feral brain these days as a non-military person who still respects the need for a strong military in these perilous days.    First, why should we just “pull out” in 30-60-90 days or whatever, if we’re winning at this point, as nearly everyone says(McCain, Murtha, etc.)? Casualities are lower than ever. The Iraqi government is slowly getting their act together. Al-Qaeda is virtually destroyed in Iraq. This looks to me like a Super Bowl team forfeiting at three points ahead just because some of the fans hate them. 

   Second, since we face an enemy motivated by religious and ideological concerns, why should we think defeating them should be easy? In the America of today, we are far too used to seeing quick and easy solutions to even the toughest problems. But my impression of problems like jihadism is that they were a long time coming and will be a long time going. These people crave dying in their cause. They use universally despised and reviled techniques to fight – suicide bombers, women and children as “shields,” murder, rape, and all kinds of world-recognized evil — because their cause not only permits it, but  commands it. And they believe they will be rewarded for such actions in ways not even Donald Trump could offer. Facing such an enemy is totally new and unprecedented. So why should we think this war would go like anything resembling a conventional war? 

   Third, do we really believe if we did simply quit the field of battle that jihadism will simply disappear, satisfied that they have the Middle East to themselves? They have made clear that their gripe is not our presence in the Middle East. Their gripe isn’t even a gripe. It’s a goal, a determined, implacable resolve to conquer the whole world for Islam. So how can we even begin to believe that quitting will in any way stop this force?  In fact, if we do quit, it will send a signal to all of them that they should keep going.

   Fourth, how can anyone say, “I support our guys in the military, but I can’t support their mission, cause, and actions in the Middle East”? Look, if you hate the military, hate what they do, hate everything about it, simply say so. We can take it. But this pretend stance of supposedly supporting them personally but saying as those young people face suicidal maniacs, snipers, IEDs, and imminent death every day, “On the other hand, I reject your goals, your work, and I will do everything I can to make sure you fail” is truly evil. And it doesn’t work logically, realistically, or even theoretically. It’s just a political dodge. Like in poker, either you’re in or you’re out. But you can’t be both. 

   Show me answers to these questions with facts, logic, and realism, and perhaps I’ll come over to your side. But for now, I honestly think we’re in the fight of our generation and our lifetimes. Giving up when most people in power say we’re winning is foolish at best, and suicidal at worst. Moreover, it won’t solve the problem because the problem isn’t the war, the killing, the casualties, or any of that. It’s them. Their ideas, their outlook, their hearts, their repeatedly proclaimed desire to convert us or kill us.         

   Show us how to deal with that permanently, and you have my unwavering support.