(EDIT: and man, does it show that I haven't written anything of significance in a long while. I need to get back in practice.)
Crash changed that. I'm amazed that some people complained that this film won Best Picture.
I came across it out of a little bit of homesickness for Los Angeles. I remembered sitting at The Armory forever ago and watching the short lived Dragnet TV show. The show itself was mostly forgettable, though Al Bundy did an excellent caricature of Detective Joe Friday. In spite of that, I found myself watching it because of all the driving around they did through LA.
A little later, the first season of 24 caught my attention for the same reason -- What can I say? I'm a sucker for streets I know and love.
Crash certainly delivered in that sense -- beautiful shots from the Valley, Westwood, and downtown LA. Possibly best of all, there wasn't really any mention of the distance between those places. This is a hard one to explain, but I'm going to try.
#10 and I spent quite a lot of time in and out of LA. The very first time, we had some errand to run -- I don't remember what. She asked me how long it was going to take and I dismissed it as "just down the road".
Well -- there's a reason people call LA a half hour town. Almost regardless of where or how far you want to go, it'll take you a half hour. 30 minutes becomes a reasonable estimate for almost anything and that unit of time becomes as irrelevant to one's every day life as a second seems to me as I'm writing this.
(#10 was nice enough not to say anything then, but a bit later she remarked that errand took much longer than she expected from my demeanor. I shrugged and didn't really say anything about it.)
One of the things that makes LA wonderful is that it's spread out and the areas are so recognizable. You can tell where in LA something was shot usually by the streets or the types of buildings on the street -- again, I can't really put it in words. It's something you get from just spending time there. And I guess that's really what it was. The film was like being told a story by someone from LA with that same paradigm and those same sorts of values.
(I'm going to try to get through this part without spoilers. Hang with me here because it'll get pretty spacey. It's been a long time since I've seriously written and I can feel it in my choice of words.)
The hardest thing about our society is the expectations we have of other people. There isn't enough hours in a day to take care of everything we need to do, so our society delegates. In exchange for those services, we exchange money. It's a simple enough game, but there's an implicit trust in that. You trust that when you exchange money for that service that the person performing that service will have your best interests at heart. This expectation has probably never gone quite so awry as with insurance, be it health insurance or car insurance. In the end though, the job of the insurance company is to hold onto as much money and pay out as little as possible. It's essentially a conflict of interest when paying out money is for the services you think you might someday need.
I imagine we've all trusted someone at some point to do their job with your best interest at heart and it's likely we've been burned at some point by a misunderstanding about what that job is. As a result, we've grown into this society of majorly pissed off people who are dependent on a system which causes them irritation when services aren't provided exactly the way they want them because your interests are not necessarily in line with the best interests of the business.
Moreover because we can't simply take things into our own hands, we're almost powerless to avoid having to deal with those same businesses. United's been taking one on the chin for a shipping problem with a musician's guitar. His solution was to make a video about it. It's clever and funny. The end result is that United is now talking to the guy to try and right a mistake that was made long enough ago that the musician almost doesn't care anymore.
So, after a fashion, we've established a defense in our society of consumers. When things go wrong, we get angry, and we voice our anger at the top of our lungs. Humans are imperfect at times, so occasionally, we'll take our anger out on undeserving people. We might even take it out on them for reasons they don't deserve. It's an expression of how our hands are tied: we're left in a situation we can do almost nothing about though it's not an ideal one.
The better of us grin and bear it. The worse of us stew over it.
Some of the ways this pain has expressed itself in popular culture are interesting. Consider the anti-corporate streak that runs hard and deep through people. We've gone from "Don't trust anyone over 30" to "Don't trust anyone with more than $30,000 in the bank". We all complain about the mainstream media, but we really have a love-hate relationship with it. Especially those of you who claim you never watch TV. Just think about how almost every bit of news comes to you and how almost everything in your domicile was made.
I've got a book here which takes big, giant bites out of the mainstream media and it's entirely oblivious to the companies who likely felled the trees, processed the pulp, made the ink, printed the words, and bound them.
I guess it gives me indie cred -- whatever that means.
Besides, it's an ad hominem attack to point that stuff out in the process of showing that they're wrong. The most despicable person in the world could paint modern art by dropping babies off a 100 story building, take a picture, and sell it for a million dollars doing it. They could import illegal immigrants who struggle to survive in overcrowded conditions on the open ocean while freezing to death only to haul them up to an office in the free world to be beaten and raped. They could pay off Fox execs to cancel all the good shows and keep the bad ones around.
Still, if they happen to mutter "2+2=4" in the course of all this, it's not necessarily wrong and you really ought to think about it.
Another response people have is to simplify. I had an LJ friend for a little while who was an endless fan of Thoreau and his doctrine of simplicity. He was convinced that he'd buy land somewhere and bug out of the system. I have little doubt that he wasn't exactly clear on everything that entailed. Besides, the system worked really pretty well for him thanks to his occupation.
People rarely understand what they're giving up until it's gone. The temptation might be strong to go establish a commune somewhere and try to show society how it really ought to be done. Or write a book and strike out some new form of government that would cure all ills. Or work within the system and try to reform it as an elected official or as a pundit.
Or write a long LJ post about it that doesn't really make a point about how to fix any of it.
I have little doubt that some of you know me as an infuriating person. I'm very good at pushing buttons and I've never really understood when enough is enough. I guess that's a part of being a little brother. In spite of that, I try my damndest never to be rude to someone who is serving me -- be it a waiter, a customer service rep, a drone from the telco, etc.
(And just look at the way I put that last bit -- that's another one of our reactions to the situation. We dehumanize it into a system. We complain about the seemingly arbitrary regulations we're powerless to do almost anything about. Oh, I suppose you COULD take your business elsewhere, but the end result is that every other company out there has the same sorts of interests and they're likely to act in the same way.)
(It's funny that in some ways, I'll treat a perfect stranger better than I've treated some of my social acquaintances. I won't explain or apologize for that -- my psyche is an interesting place and I'm not laying it bare for you lot)
(By the way, the blue ray (Yeah -- I know how the trademark is spelled. I just think it's stupid, so I ignore it whenever possible) disc for Crash is almost criminal. The encoding's bad enough that I can see compression artifacts (e.g. dark scenes that are a jumble of different shades of black instead of merely black) and there's no special features. There's a feature on the disc to teach you how blue ray is different from normal DVDs and that's it. No commentary. No featurettes. No nothing.
And this movie won best picture, people! Best picture!
I owe it to the inevitable commenter to see Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Munich, but given the quality of "Good Night and Good Luck", I find it hard to believe that anything's going to stack up. Feel free to tell me that I'm wrong though. I always love hearing that because it's an invitation for me to find out just how wrong you are and tell you about it later.)
(Also, I don't care if you're a guy or a girl. If I said that in real life to you, I'd give you a kiss on the cheek as I said it.)
(And if it horrified you, I'd make a note of it and remember to do it again later when you least expect it. Because it would be funny.)
As it happens, someone tried to merge into me on 101 today. It's a fortunate thing I know my car very well -- I hit the brakes and I could feel the car trying to shimmy into a slide. I held it and some careless person went on their merry way oblivious to what they nearly caused.
Need I go on about how I feel about that person with the rant underneath that cut? No, I didn't think so...
I take all that back. I DO have a solution. The same solution I've argued for a while now. Personal, self-sufficient space travel. What meaning does politics, government, money, or customer service have when you only see the people you want to see? Space is a darn big place and there's no reason you should ever have to see the smoke from your neighbor's flying saucer!
During the heady days of the Gold Rush, people went West to seek their fortunes.
There was a story about some old timer who saw a poster for the circus while he was on the way to the market to sell his produce. He wanted to see an elephant so badly that he drove his horses there. When the elephant walked down the street, it scared his horses and they panicked, destroying the wagon and scattering his veggies all over the place. When someone tried to empathize, he declared "I don't give a hang! I've seen the elephant!"
When people went West, they went to see the elephant. When people came back after a hard time, they said that they saw the elephant and it was a jackass.
I have little doubt that I would've gone to see the elephant and likely come back, telling everyone it was a jackass.
Tomorrow's California Extreme. I'm terribly excited about it. It opens at 10:30a, so I'm aiming to get there at 10. It's at a new locale with longer hours. This means that lunch won't be Peggy Sue's, but somewhere else that's a short expenditure of time away. Hopefully that means lunch will actually be good -- the second day of CAX is always a bit hard because you've been eating the same fries the whole weekend and they're only passable at the best of times.
People trying to find me ought to have no trouble, as usual.
I'm overdue to hit the sack. Good night folks.
EDIT: added more to this. I feel much better about it now.