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April 27, 2015

Floyd Mayweather is my “Existential Crisis” (TM)

It’s not easy (metaphorically or literally) to stick a knife in your own back… but that’s kind of what I’m doing here. At least I’m doing it with eyes wide open I guess. Because, try as I might, I can’t root for Manny Pacquiao in the upcoming “fight of the century” (all 15 years of it).

Let me clarify, every time I sit down and think it through, intellectually, I’m all in for Manny. it’s an easy decision that I am unwavering on. However, and by contrast, every time I get into an emotional discussion or get hit with my “first gut instinct” for some ridiculous reason, I find myself compelled to root for Mayweather.

It. Is. Infuriating!!!

In case you are not up on boxing and it’s “celebrities,” I’ll let you know why this conundrum exists (for me). Floyd Mayweather is a dick (and I say that with full knowledge that if we ever met in a dark alley… I’m the one not coming out in one piece) who has been convicted of violent crimes (including domestic violence charges multiple times) five times. Manny Pacquiao… well… one time he got his assets frozen for tax evasion… for like a day… until he proved he paid them and all was returned to normal. Other than that, by all reports he’s a stand-up guy as far as I know (including serving as a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines.

Why?????????

It goes against everything I believe in, everything I preach, everything I believe I am. I’ve ranted about Brock Lesnar and his idiotic “go home and lay on my wife” blurt-o-neanderthal; Ray Rice and the cold awful reality of a man who can stand over his fiancee like that after knocking her out… and so on and so forth. But I just can’t get my inner compass moving away from Mayweather… and I don’t know why.

Except, maybe I do. Maybe it’s because, somewhere inside me I’m a little more “human” than I’d like to believe. Floyd “Money” Mayweather, should he win this fight (not so much should he lose), will go down as one of the all-time greatest boxers in history. His style is a manifestation of everything I try to coach (and emulate) in my sporting life (specifically the importance of mechanics, discipline, defense over offense, technique, etc. etc. etc. … in short fundamentals). And I think in some subconscious way, I want to be a(n ancillary, to be sure) part of that history.

It’s kind of embarrassing if it’s true because it’s something I try to steel myself against. Worse though, it’s scary. If I can’t control my emotions on an issue this obviously in my wheelhouse, what else am I reacting to (without the benefit of intellectual review) and acting upon. I like to think of myself as measured, and (at the risk of sounding braggartly) “good.” By that I mean I try to do the right thing when presented with “good” and “bad” options. But, in this case (at least out of the gate), I’m clearly not… and that vexes me.

I suppose I should be a little pleased that a window for potential personal growth has opened up, and perhaps over time I will be. But for now I’m busy being terrified at the monster that appears to dwell within me. It’s not a full-fledged “chill-while-the-elevator-descends-with-my-knocked-out-girl-friend-lying-at-my-feet” dark overlord of a monster… but it’s not a cute little minion either.

minion

I think most people have existential crisis’s (crisisi??) because they don’t feel like they belong to anything… for most of my life (when) I’ve had them (it’s been) because I felt like I did, and it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of. Floyd “Money” Mayweather (completely absent of intent, of course) seems to be keeping that streak in tact for me. I react, therefore I am… but I also think and, as such, might not be. or something like that.

I’m certainly not going to watch the fight (and put money into the pocket of a serial domestic violence offender), but I suspect I’ll check out the results (maybe even follow the progress of the fight online) just to figure out who wins the battle-for-Soren’s-soul, and whether, ultimately, I “am,” or “am not” …

September 16, 2014

Can we please stop talking about Adrian Peterson’s child???

Not too long ago on a visit home I ate at one of my old favorite restaurants (name and location withheld for what should soon be obvious reasons). When my waiter (who I had not seen in quite a long time) came up to serve me he looked demonstratively different than he had in the past, in a very bad way. I was not comfortable asking him what happened, but I found out anyway as someone a couple of tables away did not share my compunction. He had been jumped by a couple of guys and they had beaten him senseless. It appears his hair was a little long, his clothes a little ratty, and the guys didn’t like “his kind” hanging around in their neighborhood (which also happened to be his neighborhood). A measurable portion of his face has no feeling (and it never will). He will never closely resemble the young man I had come to know. He will never speak clearly again (a portion of the “dead” part of his face is half of his lower lip).

I bring this up, in relation to the Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald (et. al) stories of this week because I feel we are really missing a beat in the conversation. This is not an excuse piece for those guys (there is no excuse for their actions, here or anywhere else). It is not meant to condone, encourage or enable any kind of abuse. However, it is meant to say, maybe there is another lens we should be looking at these situations through.

What I keep hearing about is how a four year old feels looking up at Mr Peterson, or how a defenseless woman feels getting punched while trapped in a elevator, as if these circumstances need to be present for an act of violence to be wrong. While I am as disturbed as the next person at the mental image of a 4 year old getting whipped, I have to suspect that my waiter friend – if he were inclined to think this way – might be wondering “What about me? Is what happened to me really less abhorrent than what happened to Mrs Rice?” I, personally, would answer “no, it is not.” Someone else might say it is, but what is relevant to the point i’m trying to make is that this discussion does not take place, there is no narrative for him. Because we are so focused on the victim, we lose track of the fact that violence is not wrong because of who it manifests itself upon, but rather, because of it’s very existence. Violence is the problem, not “violence inflicted on a certain type of person.”

The target of a wanton act of violence should be irrelevant. As a society we have started to digest the idea that victim blaming (the act of saying, for example, “that girl was raped because of how she was dressed… she asked for it”) is bad; which is good, solid progress. However, it’s time to take the next step and stop using the victims to filter (or sensationalize) the dialog. You shouldn’t need to know the person beaten with a tree branch was 4 to think something is amiss; you shouldn’t need to know it was a woman that was knocked out in an elevator and unceremoniously dumped in a hotel lobby (still unconscious) to see a problem with that evenings activities. Victims of violence need to be supported, but they do not need to be demographic drama fodder in order to emotionally validate the moral integrity of Ray Rice’s left hook.

February 28, 2012

Movie Review – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Filed under: Movie Reviews — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 10:53 pm

Remember way back when I did movie reviews… here’s one for old times sake.

There is probably going to be a spoiler or two… so think about that if you haven’t seen it and intend to do so.

tattoo

I’ll cut right to the chase, because, despite there being a lot to like about this movie, there was one aspect that left me walking out of the theater wishing it was made while I was still in college so I could spend the entire night/weekend/whatever talking about it with my oh so smart and worldly (sarcasm there, in case that wasn’t obvious) friends.

The last scene alone would have provided hours of poetic waxing about the commodification of sex, the dysfunctional aftermath of abuse, and the joyously flawed character reveal… tantalizingly delayed until the very end and yet not really withheld at all.

There are so many conclusions that can be drawn throughout the movie about the relationship building between Lisbeth and Mikael; however, in the end – regardless of what you thought would happen, or what you thought should happen – it went down exactly as it should.

In the movie, we do not see any significant relationship building between the main characters. While we witness extreme circumstances leading to outlandish actions, we are made aware of nothing foundational between Salander and Blomkvist. We see sex (which at first seems like mercy sex, and then seems like utility sex, but never appears to be passion or affection), we see inter-dependence, we even see a life saved; but we never see commonality or synchronicity.

Surely, to Lisbeth, the act of sexually communing with Mikael was a major investment. Her sexuality has always been an unhealthy yet integral part of her value. People have abused her for it and blackmailed her for it and now she had found a place where she actually wanted to not only use it… but perhaps find meaning in it.

Mikael, by contrast, in sleeping with Salander, is cheating for at least the second straight time (that we know of) and appears to tragically undervalue their physical intimacy. It was inviting, fun, and enjoyable…but never appeared to be terribly significant.

The inevitable collision of these values was foreshadowed well by his distraction during their encounter in the hotel and climaxed (pun intended) fantastically in the final scene.

Blomkvist, of course, goes back to his life – including his married girlfriend; oblivious to the idea that anything significant was going on with Salander. Lisbeth, by contrast, confides in her most (only?) trusted companion that she has started forging a relationship with someone that he “would like” (or “approve of”, can’t remember which word she used but the intent was the same); only to find him laughing arm in arm with the previously mentioned other woman.

The couple in front of me at the theater, as the credits started to roll, began to speculate on whether it was his daughter (we only see the woman from behind, so the part about his being with the married woman above is my speculation… and clearly what you are supposed to think), or if he was going out with her one last time to break up with her… or… or… or.

I haven’t read the books (although I am about to start as I see tremendous potential beyond just a good intrigue novel now), so I don’t know what comes next. Perhaps the half-fullers in front of me are right on one of their guesses; and, honestly, I won’t have my feelings hurt if they are and everything I have speculated on is dead wrong. There is a certain pleasure to be taken in thinking that these two broken people might be just what each other needs to cobble a happy and productive life out of their respective pasts.

But, if their not, and it is as I saw it… while it won’t be all “happy Hollywood,” this movie is a great and candid look into humanity and the ravages of abuse… and one hell of a conversation starter.

Even if it is just a few years too late for me to take full advantage of it…

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