Or … “How One Movie Inspired Me to Fix America”
I love independent films. I guess it’s because they’re usually quite thought-provoking — and if there’s one thing I’ll let someone provoke, it’s my thoughts.
In my previous life, when I lived in a regular city, I frequented art house movie theaters, searched video stores for the latest quirky releases, and volunteered at film festivals. I was even lucky enough to score a paid gig at the Sundance Film Festival two years in a row, which was unforgettable.
In my current life, I can’t visit art house theaters or work at film festivals, but I can thank Al Gore for inventing the internet.
I recently watched Detachment, and boy, were my thoughts provoked! The film paints a very grim picture of the education system and youth of America today. All throughout the film, I kept thinking that my current challenges as an ESL teacher abroad pale in comparison to what teachers in America have to endure — even in the good schools. I know it’s a cliche, but educators today, the ones who actually find a way to make a difference, are the true unsung heroes of our nation. If you know a teacher, and I’m sure you do, please go thank them today.
More importantly, take a moment to consider: How did it become such a mess and how can we fix it? I know it’s a complicated issue. One that’s all mixed up with economics and politics and a deteriorating respect for our fellow human beings.
This quote from the movie really hit me (don’t worry, no spoiler), “… young men today are being told that women are whores, bitches, things to be screwed, beaten, shit on.”
I’ve been living abroad for awhile now (2.5 years), so when I go back home to visit, I get to see my country with new eyes. Some things I absolutely love. Others I don’t.
One thing that really disturbs me are the sexually explicit commercials. Namely, a Carl’s Jr. ad with a scantily clad woman rolling around with a hamburger. Young children see these images and form ideas about their roles in society. When women are so often portrayed as sexual objects, how does that affect your little girl when she gets older? How will your little boy treat women when he’s a man?
The longer I’m away from America, the more it seems to be falling apart. Civil rights turmoil, corruption, unprecedented misuse of government power, abysmal education, economic crisis. Sometimes I feel guilty for spending my time helping people in foreign countries when my own country needs so much help. But the problems at home seem so convoluted and daunting.
I will tell you this, when I finally decide to move back to the States, I will make more thoughtful decisions about how I live my life there — the places I shop, my personal impact on the environment (Yikes! I might have to give up my diet soda obsession to save on plastic), all the ways I can support positive change in my community, actually being INVOLVED in my community, not being detached.
Wherever you’re living now, I urge you to do the same. Apathy is the biggest danger our country faces. I know it’s easy (even hypocritical) for me to say, sitting here a world away, but please consider it. I still love America and I don’t want it to be a mess.
All of this from one independent film. See why I love them so much?