Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the Gray

There are a few things I will never understand, like the costume design department for couples skating. Other things I don't necessarily understand, but I do obsessively think about and make commentary on them. So in honor of my eternal quest to understand humanity, here's another post on Interesting Things in My Life.

The Maltese FalconThe Maltese FalconWe had our first literal pairing in Film and Lit, simultaneously watching and reading The Maltese Falcon. As a noir film/book, I found it funny yet a little disturbing. As the preview states, Sam Spade makes "crime a career," and "ladies a hobby." I'm not about to soapbox on the topic of misogyny in pop culture, but masculinity and femininity do come into play in this story. Someone in class asked why Sam agrees to help Brigid in the first place, since she has no legitimate story. "Because she's sexy," was the matter-of-fact reply our professor gave.

The larger themes of black and white/shades of gray intrigued me during our class discussion. I know why: nearly everything I write uses light and dark.(See here and here.) I've always gravitated towards the idea that neither can exist without the other, yet when both are present...neither truly exist. As Jon Foreman sings it: "The shadow proves the sunshine." If you've known me for any amount of time, you know I tend towards theory, big picture, forest thinking--aka shadows and gray areas, themes and blendings--but I'm mysteriously drawn to practice, details, and tree thinking. A lot of times I wish for clear cut, a yes-and-no existence, one that an audience won't see in film noir (or real life), even when the guilty party is found out.

You've heard this from me before, so I won't go into it too much, but empathy and human emotion live in the gray areas. I found Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book on which Blade Runner is based, so I'm thinking and rethinking all about what makes a human and what makes an android.

Finally, we briefly discussed the death penalty in Criminology last week and our professor assigned a short paper on the four year moratorium on the death penalty from 1972-1976. If anything can serve as a symbol for what's not always so black and white, it's this country's views on the death penalty--not to mention the "guilt" of many on death row. Again, I didn't bring this up to soapbox (maybe I'll do that later, like next week during Death Penalty Awareness Week), but it is interesting to note that the US is one of only four industrialized nations to still have the death penalty.

I'm not sure how it got to be one in the morning; my sleep schedule is another one of those gray areas.


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