The Netflix Effect
The article is entitled For Some Netflix Users, Red Envelopes Gather Dust: http://tinyurl.com/jq7ju. Evidently Netflix doesn’t get prompt returns from the ‘heavier’ movies such as Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda, and those other movies that we ‘should’ watch but put off doing so because we know that we will feel pain. So the red envelopes that contain these movies sit on coffee tables or entertainment centers for weeks on end, often to be returned unwatched. WSJ cited a 1999 study that confirmed this behavior. If you want to watch a movie today, you will most likely choose Groundhog Day or Harry Potter. Or an action film. But not one that brings us down with reality.
So I am wanting to avoid the pain of the news this week. I make myself read it in small spurts. And I am more fearful than I remember being, save perhaps for the first month following 9/11. I have watched so much spin out of control since then. And the spin gets faster and faster, more deadly in every spin. I don’t know what to do, but I feel like I can increasingly relate to the German citizens who have been castigated and demonized for the sixty plus years following WWII – you know, all those sheep who wore blinders and failed to rise up against their leaders.
I know I am not alone – I am in the company of so many of us who are numb, frightened, and powerless. I was just reading in today’s NY Times that our US exporting of democracy in the Middle East is supposed to have the effect of allowing common citizens to effectively choose responsible leadership. Well, they have chosen Hamas in Palestine and have given some legitimate power to Hezbollah. They have chosen a Shiite majority in Iraq, which has already had major implications for civil strife that has grown exponentially in the past few weeks and is now relegated to back pages of the news with the horrors of the Israel/Lebanon conflict. And then there’s Somalia, Darfur, and all those other places.
We are not going to resolve this by watching the heavier movies. Actually, resolution is obviously not going to be felt for a long, long time in the Middle East. I don’t have any answers (I’ve been procrastinating writing this, too, because my thoughts are so disorganized as I feel the fears rising in my body). But I do have questions.
I have a lot of questions about democracy: the default definition of democracy is ‘getting the right to vote’. A side rant: my teeth have often gnarled at the children’s version of our Unitarian Universalist principles and purposes that conflates our will toward democratic process to ‘all people should be able to vote’. Voting is an important facet of democracy, the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections aside. but much must come first. And in this post-postmodern age, what the heck is democracy anyhow? And if it’s anything like the incivility that we see in US politics at all levels, what are we exporting exactly? What are the underpinnings that make democracy truly flourish? If people do not feel like they have hope, like the wave upon wave of people in the Middle East who are ready to die, what should be our response? Armies and weapons do not seem to do anything but lessen hope.
I have a lot of questions about empowerment: in the US with our Patriot Act and listening programs, how might we rise up and inform our leaders about how we see world events unfolding and effectively mobilizing action to reverse our morally bankrupt policies? I have no clue at this point.
I am going to spend some time in the next few weeks with Bonhoffer and Niebuhr. I am going to spend more time in my theological ground that is rooted in liberation theologies. I am going to fight my own avoidance and dissociation behaviors. For what is done in the name of the US is being done in my name too. I liked the sentiments behind the progressive organization called Not In My Name (NION), but hey, it is being done in my name. And what we are doing is unacceptable to me.