Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rescuing Ourselves: Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy

"The two desires struggle within me: the desire to be safe, and the desire to know. I cannot tell which one will win."

In an attempt to enter into and better understand the storiesworldviews, and messages shaping my kids and the rest of today's youth, I submit the latest review of trending books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily YA audience: Ally Condie's Matched series.
Disney has already purchased the rights, and foreign rights have been sold to over thirty countries.  The books went as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and they have received good reviews from readers and critics.
 My goal is not to critique the art form as much as look at how the story reflects and shapes  the readers' worldview.

There will be spoilers.

The Story

The Matched trilogy begins as Cassia is preparing for her Match Banquet, an event at which she will meet the husband Society has chosen for her. In Ally Condie's dystopic future, Society runs everything: jobs, meals, education, marriage, schedule, exercise, entertainment, social class, even death. It's the only way to achieve optimal results.
After the Warming, most people voted to give the government invasive control of their lives so they would be safe.  As the physician Oker points out, "That might be Society's greatest triumph - that so many of us ever believed we were."
But when Cassia gets matched with her best friend Xander - and then finds out she was also matched with  Ky -  she realizes that something is amiss in this Orwellian world.
Suddenly, she is introduced to a world of choices she never knew existed. Society was supposed to decide whom she should love, but now she is torn between Xander and Ky. She never had a choice of any significance before, let alone one of this magnitude. Now she is faced with her first real dilemma in a world that had always decided for her.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Looper": On Time Travel, Suicide, and Sacrifice

If you could go back in time and assassinate Hitler when he was still a child, would you do it?  You would have to kill a child who had not yet committed any of the atrocities Hitler would eventually commit, so your victim would still be innocent. On the other hand, by that one act you could spare the lives of millions of others.  Would you be justified in doing so?

What if you found out that young Hitler was full of fantastic potential for good and terrible potential for evil?  Much to your surprise, he was an exceptionally gifted young man with the potential to either make or break the world.  Unfortunately, a devastating psychological and emotional blow made him eventually decide to break it. If you knew who the perpetrator was (though no crime had yet been committed), and that by killing him you could stop the future atrocities of the yet unscarred Hitler, would you be justified in killing the perpetrator who made Hitler a monster?

What if you discovered you were the perpetrator? And what if the only way to stop the Holocaust was to kill yourself?

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Tale of Two Hushpuppies: "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

"Everybody loses the thing that made them. The brave men stay and watch it happen. They don't run." 
There are stories that tap into a deep, haunting place inside where we yearn to be a part of  all that is right with the world. Beasts of the Southern Wild attempts to do this. I choose my words carefully here, because "attempts" is not the same as "accomplishes" - and yet every attempt is laudable.
In struggling to write down my thoughts, I realized I needed to write two reviews: One that captures a story that moves me; the other that reflects a worldview that unsettles me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Desperate Human Beings

“Horror is not a glimpse into someone’s dark imagination, but a bridge into corners of everyday life most of us would rather not think about.”  - Tauriq Moosa

The Walking Dead and Philosophy brings together a number of philosophers and ethicists to analyze ethical dilemmas as highlighted in AMC’s incredibly popular The Walking Dead. 
Since the second half of Season Three is about to begin, this seems like a good time to wrap up my series based on both the show and the book. (If you would like to read the previous entries, click here for a quick link to all of them).

The Walking Dead and Philosophy contains a number of essays that address a foundational question: Where do we ground any discussion concerning ethics and morality?