Well, people never cease to amaze me. The older I get, the more I realize that it is not just people who differ from me politically, religiously, or philosophically. It's the MASS mentality. Recently, there was a movie released that has caused quite a stir. The title being: Fahrenheit 9/11. It's the latest work of fellow sojourner, Michael Moore. What irritates me is the vast number of people who have made judgments about the movie or Moore, but who refuse to see the film for themselves. What's that about?!?! I don't care where one stands politically, but I do care when asinine comments are being stated without any sensible data. Personally, I enjoyed the film. I took it for what it was: a docu/mocu-mentary. Moore knows his stuff. This is for certain. Does he have an agenda? Absolutely! Is his work important? Without a doubt. Is it propaganda? Not unless you think truth or speaking out against the president is automatic propaganda.
Now, that's just my opinion. Someone else can see this movie and feel that it is nothing more than the liberal agenda or pure hogwash, and that would be their opinion. The issue at hand, however, is if the individual speaking has seen the movie for themselves. If you are going to criticize something, please be educated about your criticisms; otherwise, kindly remove yourself from the dialogue. Bumbling, slurping comments of: "That was dumb!" or "Moore needs to loose weight," hold the intellectual equivalent of a solitary leptonic photon! I desire people to be thoughtful in their bias. Good luck, right? But why shouldn't I demand more than just moronic gurgling?
Of course some of you out there would like to just pin me to having a liberal agenda as well. I want you to know that I do have an agenda! My agenda is to decrease ignorance, increase understanding and compassion, and to confront and challenge the norm. I was just as offended when the Passion of the Christ came out and some of my liberal or Jewish friends refused to see this movie, because it was "anti-Semitic," though they had not seen it for themselves. Or some of my liberal friends who ranted that Mel's movie was a right-wing conspiracy. Personally, I didn't feel it was anti-Semitic, but then again, I grew up in a home where the Christian framework was set for me. I did, however, feel that the movie more pertained to a Christian audience than the mainstream. But I would not excuse anyone who attacked Mel (via his father) or the movie (via Jesus), if they had not viewed it for themselves. (One friend said that she didn't need to see it because she read a lot of reviews about the movie. I just hope she doesn't take a similar approach to life as she did to this movie.) I ranted away at these people as well. I think that both films are important for different reasons, and I believe that both are explosive and controversial. And for anyone who knows me, the words explosive and controversial are tasty morsels that nourish my soul.
But why is all this talk about these two movies relevant? To me, it's so much larger than the movies at hand. It has to do with the attitudes of people. People are afraid of that which is different. I spend my life performing characters who have been marginalized and ostracized by other segments in society. The athlete who does not want to be seen with the Goth kid (or vice versa), because it may cast a negative image to observers. The very mention of the words "homosexual," "gay," "lesbian," "queer," or "transgender" send certain people into convulsions. When I perform my football player who is gay my monologue revolves around his desire to be understood and accepted as a human being. He seeks not to be the target of attacks. He wants to belong. He strictly focuses on orientation, not behavior. Yet, when I perform this character I am always amazed at the idiocy of some of my audience. People claim that I am recruiting kids to be gay or that I am talking about the benefits of the gay lifestyle. Granted, the people who often say such remarks have not personally seen the show, yet they judge what they do not know!!!! Still, I have had students, faculty, and parents who have issued tirades about me promoting a liberal agenda, because they fear that students will walk away thinking that to be gay is o.k. And this is wrong . . . because? Don't get me started . . . the issue of homophobia is for another day . . . or book. I want to focus on what I originally started to say. This attitude of being so set in one's beliefs that we fail to see truth outside of our narrow-minded spectrum is at the core of most of the ills today. Take any issue that raises eyebrows and tempers, extract your personal biases, and see if you can understand the other side. If you can't, try again. Or better yet, write an essay defending a viewpoint which is not your own. You will be amazed at what you might find.
Fahrenheit 9/11 and the Passion of the Christ are polarizing movies because they are approached from a distinct worldview. Nevertheless, both contain important truths to be gleamed. To write of either movie because of one's fears and biases is the equivalent of intellectual suicide. At the very least, one should approach these movies with an attitude of "I want to know what my enemy thinks." You might be surprised. Your enemy may have analogous thoughts. We will never break down the barriers of hate and prejudice in schools and other organizations, until we are ready to confront the accepted embrace of these attitudes within the larger society.