Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's On?

Like millions of other people, I have been watching the 10 week series on webcast with Oprah and Ekhart Tolle, "A New Earth." This is a great series. Even if we already know this stuff, the review helps us to remember important things. For those people who discover these concepts as new, they are enlightening and liberating.

One interesting observation of his this week was to notice how many of our movie and TV entertainments are violent. What were judged to be the best movies this year featured psychotic killers as the leading characters. Among the most popular TV series are "CSI" and "Law & Order," which, of course, are centered on violent crimes. So we take a break from all this to watch the award winning documentary series "Planet Earth," and what do we see? Fabulous photography giving us incredible aerial footage and closeups of wild dogs ripping apart and devouring impalas, huge crocodiles drowning and gobbling up antelope, wolves munching on elk, hawks hunting storks, piranhas and sharks in feeding frenzies.

Yes, there are lots of comedies, documentaries and independent films that are not violent. If you browse all the available entertainments and eliminate all the choices the have violent crimes as the center of the plot, the choices are far fewer. Perhaps the major lesson on this planet is how to live with as little violence as possible.

What is possible? How can we make our lives that way? After all, even those of us who are opposed to our country getting into wars that we do not need to be in, and live peaceful lives ourselves, still find ourselves at least occasionally entertained by some of these same violent films, TV shows and yes, even nature documentaries. At least it is a step in the right direction to be aware of our choices. I have heard it said that the most popular entertainments are those which have "the life and death franchise." In other words, the crucial moment where the characters have the ability to determine whether other characters live or die create the greatest drama. Well, according to the experts anyway.

And that gives us a differentiator from the nature documentaries. Animal, fish, bird, and reptile predators only kill what they are going to eat. People, on the other hand, in situations other than self defense, kill for reasons like a sadistic pleasure, or to eliminate witnesses from their robberies. How do we decide what is entertaining? Yes, this is a very individual question, and more intended for reflection than an immediate answer. Considering all this, isn't it ironic that the films that are often considered most controversial are those showing explicit sexual scenes or nudity, while a film featuring a psycho killer who finds unusual and sadistic ways to kill, or shows people getting shot or stabbed at point blank range, can be an award winning movie? Strange, isn't it?

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