RANGER AGAINST WAR: Cinema Paradiso <

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cinema Paradiso

 The illusion I wished to create
was that of reality
--Heinrick Ibsen, on Emperor and Galilean 

 Half the work that is done in this world
is to make things appear what they are not
--E.R. Beadle

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Hear my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could 
--Human, The Killers 

Freedom is the freedom to say
that "2 + 2 = 4" 
--1984, George Orwell

The shooting last month at a Florida CineBistro matinee showing of the war film "The Lone Survivor" reveals many of our current problems in stark outline, sans distractions of race, economic status, etc.

The two men involved were both paragons of society: One, a retired Police Captain; the other, a Desert Storm Veteran. Both men are white, attending a matinee of a war film at an upscale suburban theater. An altercation ensues; one man is left dead.

How did this happen? The local news reports the theater has a "zero tolerance policy" for "weapons of any kind" on the property as well as "use of cell phone (including talking and/or texting) or other electronic devices while inside the auditorium." Both men were in violation of those rules.

It is easy to say the presence of the gun caused the murder, but a gun merely makes it easier to kill. A soldier and a cop both know how to deliver killing blows, sans gun, so why were they "fighting mad"? Let us look at the context to see how the tragic outcome was reached.

1) The retired Police Captain had his "Falling Down" moment, combined with that of the castrated male figure in the film "American Beauty". He is reported to have risen to anger when a women was texting the previous week during another film screening. The theater had rules against texting, and a policeman spends his life enforcing the rules, yet no one was obeying or enforcing them. He had reached his breaking point.

In the first instance, the transgressor was a woman. The Police Captain is a large male, and it would be against his instinct to strong arm such an individual. In the "Lone Survivor" scenario, the texter was a 6'4" 230 lb. man, a more fit adversary and someone who probably resembled the "punks" that Captain had dealt with over his career.

The shooter had gone out to the lobby to find an usher to ask the man to turn off his device. He returned to the theater alone, and piqued. The man did not cease from texting after two warnings on the screen, nor after having being asked to do so by the retired Captain. In fact, the man stood up and confronted the man behind him who wanted him to stop, throwing popcorn at him, his last act before being shot.

The Captain was operating in a mash-up mode of the Michael Douglas Falling Down character and Dirty Harry Callahan. He was both being disdained, and using the maximum power at his disposal.

2) The younger veteran was doing what so many of his cohort does, namely, staying wired 24/7. Texting is a way of living. He lived in his bubble of connectivity, and he can dial-up his virtual connections whenever he wants. His fellows see the requests to turn off devices are mere token gestures, and he does not have to relocate to the lobby as the world is his living room.

It was reported that he was texting his two-year-old daughter or her babysitter, supposedly to check on her wellness as she was suffering a cold. He was said to be a fanatical Facebooker when it came to his daughter. The press reports used this fact to garner sympathy for the victim.

3) The men were preparing to view a film on a puffed-up failed U.S. mission, Operation Redwings, in which 20 U.S. Soldiers were killed. In author Marcus Luttrell's hero set piece "The Lone Survivor", the audience is asked to believe that what should have been an aborted mission, was instead viable.

It feels like the revulsion we experience when the brain-dead Texan woman's body was recently forced to stay alive by the State as a placental medium for her "seriously malformed" fetus. We know it's not right to use humans as sacrificial breathing machines; we would not want it to happen to us.

So it is with "Lone Survivor" scenario. Keeping a blighted mission alive runs contrary to our notions of decency and wellness. The mission was sunk from the get-go, yet it is as though through exposure and good publicity, the malformation will morph into a good. Surely the vet and the former policeman could identify a beaten zone when they saw one.

Yet ... they were both willing to pay money, eat popcorn and share in the delusion and illusion. However, on some level, this must grate.

4) On guns: My friends remember walking through their respective downtowns 40 years ago toting rifles openly after school to go hunting in the woods, They recall their parents sometimes had a weapon in the car but there was never a thought to use it in a random episode of road rage, or any rage. Depending on the size and toughness of their neighborhood, fights would be resolved via fisticuffs or crude weapons like pipes or bats. Somehow, guns later became a go-to option for addressing matters of entitlement, disrespect, frustration and anger.

5) On disrespect: We no longer respect age, or anybody, really. People believe they have a right and perhaps even a responsibility to stay wired 24/7. With the advent of the cell phone and all that has followed, intimacy has been lost, and public space becomes our living room. The addition of televisions to most public venues adds to that perception.

As example of this disrespect, I was horrified by the disrespect of audience members at a Project Trio chamber performance last week. The standard warnings about turning off devices reduced the number of texters, but the awful part was the wailing children midway through the performance whom the parents did not take out to the lobby. Most of them were located near the back of the theatre and I presumed that was so they could beat a hasty retreat, but I was wrong.

Twice during the performance the musicians paused to thank the audience members for their "respect and interest" in attending a "non-amplified" performance -- in other words, please keep it down -- but to no avail. Amazingly, there was no oversight to ask these parents to leave the theater; this was a rude distraction for the last half of the performance. It was selfish on behalf of the parents, who din't want their experience interrupted.

6) On ego: On leaving the performance, two elderly patrons noted that the two girls behind them never stopped talking. What is it about our experience of life today that demands we constantly be commenting upon it? It seems that many experience a thing only once they document it.

Why even go to an event if you will only spend your time linking up with others remotely, or transmitting it in situ, like some unpaid newspaper intern? Interactivity is soulless when it is between you and an electronic device. We are like skittering amobas mindlessly engulfing - digesting - excreting all that we encounter.

Texting is not a killing offense, and if the officer had not had a gun, he could not have shot the man; these are givens. But what do you think about the context from which grew such ire? 

Are there any solutions, besides the predictable calls for gun control?

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Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

"Are there any solutions..."
Watch movies at home. Then all you have to worry about is a bunch of kill-crazed, murderous cops bursting in the door (wrong house, naturally) and machine-gunning everybody in the place.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yeah, what's with that?

It seems the days of Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" and programs like "This Is Your Life" are gone. Those times were "quaint" and "naive" ... I'd call it, "sane".

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 12:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Blakenator said...

You say no comments about gun control. You already mentioned the gun control in your post. It was ignored in this episode. I see a big part of the problem is the paranoia pushed by the gun fetishists. I have always felt that if I needed to be armed, I was in the wrong neighborhood. If you are not willing to introduce keeping guns out of the hands of folks who just shouldn't have them, there is no conversation to have and that contributes to our national paralysis in this matter. BTW, I, too grew up around guns and the idea of someone shooting up the place just because someone pissed them off was never considered.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 12:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You said it:

I, too grew up around guns and the idea of someone shooting up the place just because someone pissed them off was never considered.

... so, what's different now? Guns then; guns now. So that variable has not changed. Perhaps access to cheaper weapons, but that's another story.

This FL scenario is simply perfect: if a cop and a soldier can't be trusted to hold a gun today, then we have a problem, don't we? Given that we will not (and should not) renounce our Second Amendment rights, we need to get honest about our problems.

Like that's gonna happen, right? Just keep carrying those gun control placards ...

When we speak (not you and I, here), we are not honest. We hide behind whatever aegis feels most correct for our ideology. We do not get to the truth.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the doctor at the end of the bridge on the river kwai sums it all up, "Madness, sheer bloody madness"


Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 9:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Indeed. I'll note a bit more on the madness today.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 12:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

p.s. to Blakenator, who wrote:

If you are not willing to introduce keeping guns out of the hands of folks who just shouldn't have them, there is no conversation to have and that contributes to our national paralysis in this matter.

"Just shouldn't have them" ... a cop? I mean, who knows weapons control better than a cop or a serviceman?

What the serviceman (and cop) lacked was behavior control.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Brooklyn Red Leg said...

I know I may be in the minority with my opinion, but a big part of 'what changed' has been the militarization of our police. Dirtbags like that SWAT Captain (and make no mistake, he WAS a dirtbag) are the ones who get decent Cops killed. The fact is that Police apologists have created a system where Cops can do no wrong (judges, lawyers and cops all work for the same people, so it shouldn't come as a surprise) while pushing this insane idea that there is a war in the streets of the US.

Can anyone give me a RATIONAL and legitimate reason for US police forces needing demobilized MRAPs? What the hell kind of dystopian nightmare have we found ourselves in where the local goon squad have mine-resistant vehicles? When did IED's become a problem in the US?

Our society, thanks to a-hole politicians, Police-Security State drekheads and their boot-licking sycophants, has reached the Boiling Frog Point. Every time they ratchet up the pressure, the more it causes cracks that will eventually lead to a snap. Combine this with the godawful over-medication of citizens with 'Happy Pills' that have the serious potential to cause psychotic breaks and its just a matter of time.

The problem has been, from the start, that our government and its enforcers don't fear to use lethal force. The Circular Force Continuum needs to be scrapped altogether. All a Cop has to say is 'I feared for my life' and the DA will fail to prosecute because 'they were just following standard operating procedures'. On the off chance they go to trial, they will more than likely get acquitted by 12 morons cause 'God bless our Police who Protect and Serve'. Just ask the parents of Kelly Thomas or Oscar Grant.

I'm going to leave 3 links for YouTube videos that I think people should watch. They are, I think, very pertinent.




Friday, February 7, 2014 at 2:27:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


No doubt our paramilitary is a societal problem, but I do not believe it impacts most gun deaths today in the civilian world.

Yes, however, on the over-medicalization of our society. There is something else, too. but "freedom-loving" people are loathe to address it. I might,soon.

Friday, February 7, 2014 at 4:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Anthony Dewees said...

Anthony from Tallahassee and (currently) Mozambique...

First time I've looked at these...this story really troubled me....about as much as that I feel I can't go to the cinema in Tallahassee because people will constantly talk, text, throw food on the floor next to me, put their feet on the back of my chair, etc.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 5:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Anthony,

Glad you checked us out. We've been a bit scarce but we're back on post.

Oh, yeah -- you know what the theatre experience is in Tally. What life in 2014 ruralia is, at least Southeast ruralia.

I'll be saying my truths, Ranger, his. Hope you'll be able to participate.

Be well in Mozambique, til our next Publix rendezvous ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 6:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 6:25:00 PM GMT-5  

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