Why Rocky, The Hurt Locker, and Liz are Losers

My sister is a smart lovable gal.  Sometimes she is wrong and she hates it when people point this out to her.   She responded to my recent Oscar predictions post with some interesting comments.  She said,

I won’t remember Avatar in ten years. Hell, I can barely remember it now; I had to go re-read a review to remind myself of what the actual plot was. I left Avatar thinking “Wow, you know, that looked really cool.” But Best Picture? Really? No.

and

I should note now that my brother compares the Oscar race between Avatar and Hurt Locker to the Star Wars vs. Rocky Oscar race for Best Picture, and where he comes down on the side of Star Wars on that one, I’m firmly in the Rocky camp.

Interesting comments.  But totally wrong. As an older brother, it is my duty to explain why.  Here we go:

Liz, first off I can see why you’d think this way.  You said you got sick from the 3D for Avatar and in your review you can’t even remember what the plot of Avatar was.  Well if you were so sick and you don’t know what the movie was about, you probably shouldn’t pick it for Best Picture.  But just realize that you’re in the minority and the rest of the country is quite aware of what occurred on the screen and loved it.  Maybe you should to rewatch in non-3D

Now about Rocky vs. Star Wars.  Have you seen the first Rocky lately?  The dialogue is atrocious. Rocky’s relationship with Adrian is one of the worst written and acted relationship in cinema.  It’s severely dated.

Star Wars is a different story altogether.  If you don’t think Star Wars was a seminal film in cinema history, you’re retarded.

Star Wars references are so deeply embedded in popular culture that you don’t even realize it.  You can’t even watch CNN now without them trying to copy many of the technological ideas that were first shown in a movie over 30 years old now (election hologram anyone?)  Everyday references to the main characters and themes of Star Wars are casually made. Darth Vader has become an iconic villain.  Phrases like “evil empire” and “may the force be with you” have become part of the popular lexicon in EVERY industry and culture.  Do you even remember what Apollo Creed’s nickname was?

Rocky is a good movie, but Star Wars was a good movie that changed cinema forever.  Almost all (or the majority) of science fiction films have been influenced by Star Wars and it basically created the modern-day blockbuster genre.  How many Rocky parodies are there?  Could you imagine a Spaceballs or Fanboys of Rocky?  No, the only thing keeping the Rocky films alive are Sly Stone’s attempt to remake the original time and time again.

I could go on and on about how Star Wars impacted both society and film but i think you get my point.  It was a major game-changer. This is why i compare it to Avatar.  While i don’t think Avatar will have the impact of Star Wars, i do believe it represents a large step-function in how films will be made going forward.  Major dramatic films are being made in 3D.  Future films will be made, realistically, without actors.  Think about that.  Major realistic, dramatic films without actors.  That’s what Avatar has introduced.

Let me just say that in 2007, NASA launched a space shuttle carrying a pair of Rocky’s shorts into space to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film.  Wait, no, that’s a lie.  They didn’t.   What they DID do is launch the space shuttle with the original lightsaber on board.  It was the lightsaber that was used by Luke Skywalker. After spending two weeks in orbit, they brought the lightsaber back to Earth on November 7.  And you think this film, Star Wars, where they are doing event like this and making more references to over 30 years after the film was released shouldn’t win a “Best Picture” Oscar.  Really Liz?  Really?

Americans are Polygamists

This is from my recent reading of the book Elsewhere USA.  In the book it describes that similar to the African areas of Mali and Malawi, America also practices a form of polygamy.  All thanks to the laws of economics and biology.

A the book describes, one of the best predictors of polygamy in a society is income inequality.  While America doesn’t approach at all those of some African villages, we are certainly number one in the Western world in income inequality.

As Elpolygamysewhere describes:

The linkage between economic inequality and polygamy is two-way – that is, polygamy both causes and is caused by inequality.  Let’s start with the basic fact that a man can produce thousands of offspring by spreading his seed while a woman is limited to around twelve or so.  But when women choose their mates, they are not just after who can provide good sperm; they also want to make sure that a would-be father both has enough resources to support a child and will, in fact, invest time and money in that child.

Confronted with a distribution of income in which the distinctions across potential suitors is not terribly great, a woman will still try to land the best catch, but she probably will not be willing to share her man.  If there are a thousand fish in the sea; it’s not worth it to take one half (or 1/3, or 1/4) of the resources of any given man.  Better to go down a notch and enjoy the complete attention, time and money of the next richest fellow.  However, sometimes the distinctions between men are so great as to alter the calculations.  If a few men control almost all of the wealth while the vast majority have very little to offer in terms of a stable source of income, then it may be worth it to be the 4th wife of the very rich man rather than the first and only of a very poor one.  At least you can guarantee your babies will eat well.

Now that the US income is becoming increasingly unequal, we’re becoming polygamists as well. Our version however are different than the African versions in these ways:

  1. Ours is not a static, mormon-type of polygamy but rather a dynamic version.  It’s better suited for a society with fluid status and class positions like ours
  2. Ours is a polyandrous society – meaning multiple husbands
  3. America’s polygamy is both a result and a cause of inequality

The first point called “dynamic polygamy” can also be called “serial monogamy”  It’s a semantic difference.  As the author says,

If “being married” means producing offspring and/or having ongoing mutual responsibilities, then when you get a divorce, you are not really pressing the erase button, you are just building another thatched hut across town where you may set up with another wife while still paying child support, alimony, or plain old respects to the first.  It doesn’t matter if the 2nd marriage started as an affair during the first, the end result from the point of view of family responsibilities is more or less the same: you have two wives (or husbands).

Our tendency to divorce is in many ways extremely similar to the form of polygamy that’s occurring in Africa.  This results in something interesting things in America.  For instance, many women today don’t get married at all as not all men have the means to support a family. It’s been calculated that there are now 60 eligible men for every 100 women.

Over the past 20 years, other things are happening in society.  According to the book, the concept of a “starter wife” is becoming more and more uncommon whereas dual-earner mairrages (both people earn high wages) dual-poor marraiges are rapidly increasing.  The rich are getting more rich and the poor are getting more poor (two low earning folks).

It’s interesting to think of divorce as a form of polygamy.  When you hear that – how does that make you feel?  Is it fair?

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25 Random Things About Me

I got tagged in Facebook to do one of these lists.  I really enjoyed reading some of my colleagues and some of my old friends from high school so i thought i’d put one together.

The rules are that once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged or however many you want. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Here are my items:

1. I don’t like fruit (with the exception of apples) and i’m happy that my sister’s the same way. It makes me feel less strange.

2. I tend to get around. I’ve been to 49 states and hope to get to the final one, Mississippi, sometime soon.  Since college, I’ve lived in Virginia, New York, Washington DC, Boston (sort of), and now Los Angeles.

3. I have no toenails on my 2 little toes.

4. I was born in NY, then moved to CA, then moved to Texas before i finished my youth in Minnesota.

5. I grew up in Minnesota.  When i moved east in 1996, i felt like a Midwesterner.  I then lived on the east coast for 11 years.  When i moved to California last year, i felt like an Easterner.  After a few years here, who knows who i’ll be.

6. i’ve never broken a bone. I attribute this to my love of milk.

7. I love the extended Lewis Family clan and feel so fortunate that i have such great cousins, aunts and uncles.

8. When i was younger I used to dress up like a ninja and wonder around in the woods with my brother.

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