[See an update to this post here.]
Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that declared abortion to be legal in the U.S. It was also the day of the latest school shooting, this one a slightly-less-headline-grabbing version than the last. And as I listened to the usual parade of opinions on abortion (which pretty much haven’t changed at all since Roe), and waited for the NRA’s latest asinine statement on how guns are the solution to all our problems, a thought occurred to me:
Gun-rights advocates and abortion-rights advocates aren’t all that different.
The gun nut is just the abortion nut dressed up as a redneck. The abortion nut is just a gun nut drenched in estrogen. I imagine that thought will offend nearly everyone (WOO-HOO! TRAFFIC!), but before you stomp away angry, let me explain what I mean: Continue reading
For a film buff, I really don’t own that many DVDs — somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40, and most of them were either gifts or finds at a Blockbuster 5-for-$20 sale. One of the films I’ve made sure to add to my collection, though, is Rashomon, a low-budget samurai flick from the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. I wrote several papers over it during my undergrad years, and now I’m working on another one for a graduate course I’m taking. I’m far from the first to write about it, though, since it was such a revolutionary film. Every western, crime movie, and art house drama — every movie — from the last 60-odd years has stolen something from it.
Rashomon isn’t a narrative film. It tells the same crime story — a rape and a murder — four different times, each time from a different character’s perspective. It’s not a mystery, though. It’s not a film that invites you to piece together what happened and figure out whodunnit. All four stories are entirely different, and mutually exclusive. And all four characters take credit for the murder.
Rashomon is a deeply postmodern film because at its core it denies the existence of “truth.” Each character involved in the incident constructs his or her own truth, recalling the same events, but casting them in a light that is both self-aggrandizing and self-incriminating. And Kurosawa has no interest in telling you “what really happened,” because there is no “what really happened.” Without an observer, there’s no event to be observed, and there has never in history been such a thing as a neutral observer. Continue reading