Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Bad Week for the World

                         Photo by Joel Saget, courtesy of Getty 

I had another post almost ready to go for this week, but given the events of Friday the 13th, it hardly seems appropriate. Besides, the final edit and polish for a Sunday post usually happens on Saturday, and that task just doesn't interest me today -- so it'll go up next Sunday.  

This was one bad week.  First, a terrible bombing in Beiruit -- a city once known as "the Paris of the Middle East" -- then Friday's horrific slaughter in Paris, France.  

A lot of innocent people died for no good reason in the past few days.

I've never been to Paris, and since I'll probably have to work right up to the day of retirement -- and given the financial realities that will rule the post-work era of my life -- I'll likely go to my grave never having strolled down the boulevards in the City of Light. Still, I fell in love with French films back in college, where the work of Louis Malle, Jean Renoir, Marcel Pagnol, Francois Truffaut, and Jean Luc Godard (among others) turned my head around to give me a whole new perspective on the power of movies. That was when I realized the Hollywood method of filmmaking isn't the only way, and that we had a lot to learn from the French when it comes to making movies about people navigating their way down the rocky path of life.*

Although nobody makes the kind of lush, earthy, romantic films the French have been producing since the dawn of cinema, Hollywood does manage to get it right every now and than. I don't think I've ever managed to remain stoic through many viewings of  Casablanca -- especially the scene where the band at Rick's Cafe American strikes up a stirring rendition of La Marseilles, the magnificent French national anthem. It gets me every time.

I'm just a juicer in Hollywood, a tiny cog amidst many thousands who keep this enormous entertainment machine running. I have no real knowledge of what's going on in the Middle East beyond the litany of misery in the daily news.  All I know is that it's been a fucked-up mess over there ever since I can remember, starting with the 1967 Israeli-Arab war. The bloody violence has only gotten worse over the ensuing five decades as the fire spread farther and wider -- and is now burning hotter -- than ever seemed possible. I see no easy answers, and no end in sight to the carnage.

Whatever the initial spark, it's evident that nobody involved knows how to put these flames out. Fueled by a combustable blend of religious blood feuds, the iron-fist of repression, and the outside world's appetite for oil, the Middle East has come to resemble one of those humongous underground coal fires that once started, burn for thousands of years.

But this fire is burning up people, not coal.  

I don't have solutions, only questions without answers, but it seems likely things will get worse before they get better, and that the bloody horror of Friday the 13th in Paris may well happen again in other cities.  Living with such recurrent horrors may well be our "new normal," as the modern world struggles to find a way to deal with a nightmarish enemy right out of an apocalyptic Hollywood movie.

Unfortunately, this is no summer blockbuster -- it's all too real.

So weep for Paris, weep for the world, and pray for us all. I'm not much of a believer in Divine Intervention -- or divine anything, really -- but we're gonna need all the help we can get 

* If you've never seen Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heartdo so.  No matter how glowing the reviews, words can't do justice to this movie, which epitomizes the "french touch" in dealing with a highly-charged subject in a manner that would be impossible in Hollywood.

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