Strange parallels

I went to see Mel Gibson’s new flick, Apocalypto, on Friday.

Billed as an “action adventure” piece, it’s really a heady statement about civilizations in decline. I had heard a couple of reviews of the movie earlier that day. All decried the film’s ghastly level of violence that seems to be Gibson’s penchant. From Mad Max to Braveheart to Patriot to Passion of the Christ to this; the man loves to bathe in blood. And, sure enough, Apoc won’t disappoint. There is everything from skewered people to beheadings to hearts being cut from chests to mountains of corpses; and enough throats sliced and gallons of blood to sate everyone.

Even kids, which is really the point of this post.

It really bothers me that parents take their toddlers and children to movies like this. It also is sad that theaters are all to happy to take money from parents pushing strollers to see Apocalypto. The kicker, however, was this one family I sat right in front of.

It was a young couple with two children. One was just a young toddler while the other I’d say was about four or five.

Before the feature there were a few trailers. All of them were for upcoming horror movies (which, I suppose, was the demographic the marketers thought would be drawn to the Gibson piece). You know how those go–crazy-quick camera cuts, sudden screams, the killer leaping out at you. One was about some super-killer that is stalking a teenage couple. He grabs the boy and for the last few seconds of the trailer, as the footage and screams build and build, he gets the kid to cry out “I want to die!!!”

At which point the four-year-old follows suit and screams out “I want to die!!!” And everybody in the theater has a laugh.

The father was one of those commenting types, yelling out “Aw, sh*t don’t go out, dummy!” “Yeah, get some!” “Ooooh, yeah that’s what I’m talking about” every few seconds. I had to move seats.

The central message of the movie (that I could figure out) was that this great Mayan civilization was on the brink of collapse because of some plagues and such, but were deserving to die out because of what they had become. They had reached a point where they were a people who didn’t value life and rejoiced in violence and human sacrifices just for pure sport. They loved to see blood and didn’t care about who they exploited to get their kicks….

…Which were the exact characteristics of every one in that theater. What’s even more confusing was that the film contradicts its own message.

If, as it seems to assert, a society no longer deserves to exist once it gladly indulges in violence and makes the ending of human life a form of entertainment; then what validity does that message possess when it uses undue violence to indulge its audience?

If you want to rid the world of AIDS, you don’t infect people with AIDS to spread the word about the disease, do you? Moreover, there’s teaching in Scripture that people wanting to do good are foolish if they think they can make goodness look better by doing evil.

Then again, I can’t be the one to talk. I’m a soldier–an engine of violence. My main purpose is to end life. So all the contradictions just rattle around in my head a bit.

Anyway, go be good Americans and see it. It’s what our high priests in Hollywood have brought to us this week. Take the family too!


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

5 responses to “Strange parallels”

  1. brogonzo says :

    I’m thinking ol’ Mad Mel is perhaps a bit craftier than we give him credit for being. He’s known for buckets-of-blood violence, sure… but maybe what he’s trying to do is drive home the parallel between the Mayans and today’s Americans. You saw it, even if it was lost on Mr. Comment-happy and his brood.

    I doubt highly that the Hollywood suits will be overly pleased if Apocalypto does well, after Gibson’s anti-Semetic tirade a while back. But who knows.

  2. Felyne says :

    “My main purpose is to end life”. I totally disagree. Your main purpose is to gain/retain control and peace through force, whether that force be psychological and/or physical.

    Mayans or Romans, who can tell the difference. Perhaps that is the point.

  3. brogonzo says :

    Felyne — Well, that’s what the Army is being used for at the moment. But ultimately, any army is designed to be able to bring lethal force to bear against a country’s adversaries… in other words, killing people. Those of us who don’t carry rifles around are really just making sure that the ones who do can continue to do so.

  4. Shannon says :

    When I went to see Hannibal (a few years back) a couple brought their eighty-year-old grandmother to it. Mid-film (somewhere near the part where Giancarlo Giannini gets gutted), she stands up and boldly announces, “I’m leaving!” At least she had some sense.

    Parents with toddlers shouldn’t be allowed in the theater. Get a sitter, then come to the film, sheesh!

  5. salmons says :

    Shannon: I hear people say “Movies are so expensive, we can’t afford a sitter,” or “We couldn’t get anyone on short notice.”

    I’ve never understood that logic. I love kids as much as the next guy, but a babbling, screaming toddler in a movie is hardly what I want to hear when I myself plop down $8-12 on a visit to the theater I just think it’s remarkably inconsiderate.

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