Thursday, January 31, 2013

Film review - Silver Linings Playbook

I love a film with no CGI. Further to that, I love a film that still hails to the old school philosophy that a good film rises and falls on strong characters, great writing, excellent acting and equally good direction.

Silver Linings Playbook is one of those films that Hollywood only produces about once a year as for most studios they’re just too risky. What they don’t understand however, is that a film about two main characters dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and bipolar is more relatable to the average person than most Hollywood productions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gun Control v's Gun Violence

 It seems that in the world of US politics nothing stirs the loins of conservative liberals more than the phrase ‘gun control’ – ok except maybe abortion and gay marriage. I can’t imagine what it would be like for most Americans to be a part of this debate seeing your country fiercely divided over such an important issue.

Guns, it seems, strikes right at the heart of America. The gun control debate has raged for years despite the gun deaths of Presidents, children, soldiers, politicians and countless of everyday American’s who are subject to gun violence.

What interests me more, is the reaction from President Obama and the Democrats in trying to reign in the violence. Behind closed doors of the White House, in a room somewhere, Obama sat with Vice President Biden and his scores of advisers  to come up with a strategy to address this issue. I am thankful there were some communications professionals in that meeting. They came out with a strategy that included policies, meetings, new laws and community action. But under it all it was clear – “We’re talking about reducing gun violence, not gun control.”

Not once has there been a statement, or even an inkling that Obama was looking for ‘gun control’. Instead he is after reducing ‘gun violence’. What’s the difference? There’s a huge difference. Spin, and word selection play a major role in communicating en mass and the Obama camp is better at it than most. The term ‘gun control’ creates fierce opposition based on the pointless argument surrounding the US Second Amendment. Alternatively ‘gun violence’ suggests that there is room for healthy debate about the amount of injuries and death caused by guns in the US - one step closer to possible change. Will it work? Only time will tell.

One word can make all the difference. Ask the average person if they think the US should reduce gun violence and you will most likely get a ‘yes.’ Reducing gun violence is a good thing, making people safer is a good thing, keeping children free from harm is a universal good thing.

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. 
We all breathe the same air. 
We all cherish our children's future. 
And we are all mortal.” 

Talk about gun control – and things and people get ugly. When I see a news report of a ‘gun control’ rally on the steps of Washington, all I do is shake my head because most of them don’t get that words matter. Talk about reducing gun violence and you have a chance.

Healthy debate will always trump political bickering.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I write.

I write because of an inner compulsion to tell stories. If I’m honest with myself I don’t particularly enjoy the process of writing. The reward is in the end result; when a story is over, when the characters are alive and no longer annoying my vacant thoughts. Finishing a story is like what I could only imagine a title fighter feels when winning a big fight with a stunning knockout victory. I stand back and look at the sentences, the phrases, passages, and pages as they whimper in the corner too tired to wrestle with me anymore. The process is exactly that, a big fight. From first thoughts, to ideas, to plots and conception, the first creation in my mind heralds many hours of unsettling work with the hope that the second creation will be as inspired as the original.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fight Club, Jack Nicholson and the skill of being ordinary.

I can’t help but think that we’re all destined to be ordinary. Ironically, to do ordinary well, takes an extraordinary amount of effort and skill. Why is there a cultural and societal pressure to live up to an expectation to jettison away from the ordinary and live large? To be successful, to reach your potential, to be all you were meant to be?

I was interested by a story a work colleague told me over coffee one morning at work. The night before, she had attended her son’s year 7 graduation. She told about how, during the ceremony, each student was asked what it was they wanted to be when they were older. To her dismay, almost ninety percent of the class said they either wanted to be a celebrity, a celebrities’ assistant, or a famous world class sports star. There were none who desired to be Scientists, Writers or Mathematicians. Now obviously, our desires and hopes change quite a bit from the age of 12 to adult hood – but an interesting thing is at work here. Not only is this a pretty accurate view of today’s youth culture, it also shows the lie and draw of celebrity and being ‘extraordinary.’