Okay so many films today are maybe not of the celluloid type, but the impact they make on your brain is much the same.
A friend I cycled through Asia with years ago was not a fan of horror movies, he knew that those images would come back to haunt him in his tent late at night in the wild somewhere. Luckily he had the forethought to think of that, many of us don’t have the insight when we are watching some brain fodder movie for a night’s entertainment, but who needs murder, rape or brutal war scenes in our unconscious minds?
I like to recount a story Bo Lozoff ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Lozoff ) tells in one his books of a Buddhist monk in a room full of his students back in the 70’s in Washington D.C.. He asks some questions of these new aspirants; “How many of you meditated in the morning?” They all proudly raise their hands. “How many did not drink any alcohol?” Smiles and hands in the air. “How many of you have not eaten meat this week?” Again, a proud show of hands. Then the bombshell question. “How many of you saw ‘The Exorcist’ this week?”A shuffling of feet, hands rubbing stubbled heads then feebly being raised. You meditate to clear your mind, if you had drunk alcohol or eaten meat the impurities of these actions will be gone in a week, but the scenes from that movie will be with you always, was his only retort.
My hand would have been in the air, although I would not have been in a room full of Buddhist monk aspirants then or now, my brain can still conjure those images quite easily as Linda Blair acted her role as possessed child. Unfortunately I can recount too many other scenes from other movies. I was not a fan of most horror movies, but I’ve seen more Mafia hits then love scenes, that’s for sure. As I got older I grew more discreet in my movie viewing. Now that I live in the French countryside an English speaking movie in a theatre is like a small jewel, so I savor the pleasure of picking and choosing discriminately. As I have two young children many of my DVD choices reflect my kid’s ages.
Now I tend to be drawn to movies that make me question, broaden my horizons and give me hope for the future. “Thrive”, “What the Bleep do We Know”, “Money as Wealth”, and “The Age of Stupid” being the latest of a run of these type of movies I’ve recently watched. I am not immune to slipping into viewing a Hollywood flick once in a way if a DVD comes my way, but more often than not I come away after watching something really brainless and asking myself “Why?”
I enjoy being entertained, it is so nice to watch a good movie. I don’t want to be forced after every movie I see to question my life, the planet’s future, and quantum physics’ link with god. But I must say, I feel a whole lot better knowing there are people out there discovering these wonderful deeper meanings to life and sharing it with us all.
My choice of ‘Big Screen’ movies of late have been “In a Better World”, “Angel’s Share”, “Best Ever Marigold Hotel”, to name a few. Nice uplifting human spirit type films. In the DVD or VHS world I still get sucked in every once in a while to the useless fodder stuff. My latest blunder was “Casino”. It was based on a true story and that was the first sucker line that pulled me in. It was in a box of old VHS movies someone gave to us recently. I’m smarter than this I told myself after the first car bomb scene, but watched the whole movie anyway. What do I care about Las Vegas and gangsters? Truth be told, not much, but I sat down and watched Joe Pesci kill, maim, and beat up lots of people in that two plus hours, right up to his brutal end. I kept saying to myself, ‘Turn this off’, but I didn’t. I made excuses to myself, I’ve seen so much of this it won’t affect me, I like Robert Deniro, etc. No, they were all feeble. I hadn’t eaten meat that day, nor drunk any alcohol, but would have been a whole lot better off eating a few greasy cheeseburgers and getting sloshed on cheap vodka.
I had a fitfull night’s sleep that night and I can still hear Joe Pesci’s raspy voice and see baseball bats swinging. I blew it big time. Okay one condolence is next time I’m camping I won’t be kept awake thinking Deniro or Pesci are going to ‘do me’ Mafia style in my tent, but those brutal murder scenes are with me forever.
So why am I writing this? Not sure really. Just sharing a bad decision with my friends and blog followers. Those other movies I aforementioned made me come away with new ideas, filled with a vision of my place in the world. How will I help to be part of the change? How can I think of economy and environmental issues differently? Is quantum physics what the ancients were talking about, does it apply to me? Can I change my life’s path by changing my thought patterns? Yes I can. I know this. I have felt its power in my life. Why the heck was I wasting two precious hours watching ‘Casino’? I honestly don’t know. There are so many good movies out there. “Gandhi” was on the shelves, but I’d seen it already two or three times. I could have read my book in bed, studied French, meditated.
I’m just beating myself up, I must try to be like another wise Buddhist monk who picks up a girl to help her across a river then places her on the other bank. A mile down the road when asked by his student why he touched the woman when he took a vow not to have contact with the opposite sex. The teacher calmly turns to his young apprentice and says, “Are you still carrying that woman? I gently left her near the river.”
Thank you all, ‘Casino’ will be left by the river. We all make bad decisions. Hopefully we learn from them. If we can avoid putting images into our heads and our children getting those images put into theirs, why not try? Give them a little buffer zone. They will be on their own paths soon enough. With the world-wide-web, Hollywood, television, Youtube, etc. waiting for them they will have to dodge their fair share of dubious movies and shows, but hopefully they’ll know how to discriminate a bit better than I just did.