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Pensive Mullings for a Holiday Season December 1, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in Family, Spirituality.
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I’ve had an interesting week-and-a-half.  We flew to Phoenix to visit Liora’s Aunt, Uncle, and cousins for Thanksgiving.  I always feel nervous when we “invite” ourselves anywhere, even though we gave them lots of notice.  I feel like we descend upon the unsuspecting souls, with an 11 year old (quite angelic) and 2 four year olds (not quite so…!).  It worked out pretty well, though.  All things considered.  Nobody died, or even was seriously injured.  Just the usual drama/trauma you would expect with lots of family, and twin boys looking for trouble.

That’s not what was really interesting, though.  My introspection started with a movie on Saturday evening.  The rest of the family went to see “Enchanted”, while John and I went to see “Stephen King’s The Mist”.  Me, I’m just into horror movies.  Especially good Stephen King ones (not that that’s happened very often).  In particular, I really enjoyed the novella, and the previews looked good.

So, what did I think of the movie?  Spoilers to follow, so if you’re going to see the movie, and you don’t want to know the end, then stop reading.  Details below the fold.

First, to understand the ending, you have to know the story.  So a little synopsis here:

The Mist is about a small town in Maine that suffers from a severe Summer thunderstorm.  The following morning, a mist forms across the lake, coming out of the hills, where a sooper-sekrit military (Airforce?) installation resides.  As the main character and his son head into town to pick up supplies for repairs, the mist slips in, and all hell breaks loose.  All sorts of bizarre critters (mostly resembling oddly mutated and sized spiders, scorpions, and various permutations on crustaceans) descend upon the store where some brave residents take up defence.

As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that staying in the store is only fulfilling on a death-wish, which some of the residents appear to have.  Finally, our fearless lead, along with his young son (maybe 8 or 9?) and three other adults, make a break for it in his jeep.  They have a gun with 4 bullets, and a vow to go as far as the gas will take them.  You probably see where this is going.

When they reach the end of the tank of gas, the lead character takes out the gun, looks at all of the adults, and they all basically agree, without too many words, on what must be done.  His son is asleep in the arms of the female lead (not the wife–she was killed in the initial mist “invasion”).  The camera moves outside the jeep, you hear four shots, and see the requisite amount of gory matter splatter against the jeep windows.  The camera then moves back inside, and you see the father screaming in anguish.  He’s just killed his son, rather than leave him to the monsters roaming around outside.  Who wouldn’t be anguished?

Then the part that totally cheesed me off.  He gets out of the jeep, starts hollering for the monsters to come get him, and we hear all kinds of nasty noises in the mist.  Soon, we see shadows looming, and then what rolls out of the fog?  An M1 tank.  The cavalry has literally just shown up.  He stares in disbelief as tanks, jeeps, and trucks roll by.  As the mist lifts, we see the troops with flame-throwers, burning up the nasties.  And the father completely breaks down as the credits start to roll.

What a G-d forsaken ending.  I like twists, as much as anyone.  And I don’t necessarily mind downer endings. “Halloween”, “Silence of the Lambs”, etc.  But this one, I felt, was completely gratuitous and unnecessary (is that redundant?).  You could have ended with the jeep breaking down, and then credits rolling, with the camera pulling away as creatures start circling the vehicle.  You could have ended with our heroes tuning the radio, and picking up a faint signal (much as the book ended), as they rolled through the mist.  You could have ended with them trapped, surrounded by beasts, and out of ammo, only to be rescued by the Army.  But him killing everyone, including his son!  That was immensely disturbing to me.  It left me with a terrible taste in my mouth, and really unhappy that I’d seen the movie.  Which is not a reaction I have very often.

The other thing that has gotten under my skin is the murder of Sean Taylor, the star Safety for the Washington Redskins.  I haven’t followed the Skins much this year, as my attention has been on the mightily suffering Ravens (and to a lesser extent the San Diego Chargers).  But I know the Skins have been putting put a fight, and haven’t been losing by much, even though their overall record is not great.

As the story of Taylor’s murder has unfolded, I’ve been increasingly upset over what appears to be the futility of his efforts to clean his life up.  He went to University of Miami, and apparently had gang-banger associates who weren’t happy with him.  He’d gotten himself into trouble off-the-field, and really was associating with people who weren’t putting his best interests at heart.  He had a baby girl 18 months ago, and this seemed to be the wake-up call he’d been waiting for.  He made quite the effort to straighten his life out, so that he could be the father his daughter so needed, and the future husband his girlfriend deserved.

Part of him cleaning up his act meant breaking off with these old friends.  They didn’t take too kindly to it, by all accounts.  Several of his football buddies have come forward over the last few days to relate how he was living in fear, both for his life, and that of his family.  That fear appears to have been well-founded.  I don’t know for a fact that the people who have recently been arrested for Taylor’s murder were former gang-banger buddies, but it seems that way at first blush.  His home in Miami had been broken into a couple of weeks ago, and he went down to take care of his family.

I think what I’m upset about, and I think this is the thread through both of these stories, is the callous disregard for life that really seems to be enveloping our society.  Maybe I’m just turning into a crotchety old man (at 42!), but it certainly wasn’t like this when I was growing up.  It just seems like nobody gives a damn anymore.  Have we just given up?  Are we so immune to travesty, to the horrors of life ripped away from us, of seeing those we love and care for carried off by violence?  Do we care?

I’d certainly like to think we do.  That somewhere deep inside of us, the little voice of G-d is whispering gently, patiently, never giving up.  But have we given up on G-d?  Have we given up on ourselves?  I know it was only a movie, but do we value life so little that we allow an ending like that, and shrug it off?  I’m probably making waaaaaay too much of it, but it’s really stuck in me right now.  Maybe I’ve just collapsed my emotional response to the movie with what happened with Sean Taylor, and it’s all just rebounded against me psychically.

I dunno.  Maybe I’m just too cynical.  I’ve got my family.  My three boys are the light of my life, so maybe I’m reacting to the movie inside of being a father faced with a horrifying set of circumstances.  I can’t even imagine being in those shoes.  It reminds me of “Sophie’s Choice”, only not so well done.

Okay.  Enough.  Go to sleep.

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