Monday, December 11, 2006


Originally uploaded by shainelee.
My wife and I ran off to catch a matinee today. We went to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, Apocalypto. We've been waiting to see it ever since it was first announced. We did not take our children because we knew that the movie has bloody violence. Overall, we both liked the movie. I liked that for once a scrawny Indio was the hero of a movie. Even though the lead actor is physically fit, he's not a Schwarzenegger.

I'm not going to sit here and pound my chest claiming some connection with the Maya. I know for a fact that on my mother's side of the family we come from the Chichimeca nation. On my father's side, I don't know. Based on my skin color, there is plenty of mestizo.

Going back to the movie, I totally missed the allegory to the fall of our nation. Gibson claims that sending troops to Iraq is basically senseless sacrificing. Last I checked, it's the fanatics over there who are decapitating people and slitting their throats, not us.

Other than that, I do see the parallel between Jaguar Paw learning to get over his fear and making the conscious choice to take on the enemy. Our country started off strong, such as when the raiding party attacked JP's village and he fought back. Right now, with the Iraq Surrender Report just issued, our country is cowed. I'm guessing that with all the running from the enemy that is about to take place, there will come a day when we decide that enough is enough and finally do something once and for all.

As for the violence in the movie, well, it was fine. If you want excessive violence and gore, Hostel is the movie for you. I think the violence in Apocalypto was adequate. It is arrogant to think of humans as anything other than hairless apes. The Maya were equally capable of grand things like architecture, astronomy, mathematics, writing, and art as they were of baser things like cutting peoples' hearts out, decapitations, and senseless killing. Not seen in the movie was their practice of sacrificing children too. When compared to the rest of humanity, we are capable of great achievements, but we cannot escape our animal nature. We are equally able to commit horrendous acts against our fellow man. We think we are so above animal instinct only because we don't pay attention to the obvious. Christians, for example, worship Jesus Christ. We don't worship him because he taught is to be nice to each other. We worship him because he got nailed to timbers while he was alive. We worship him for dying for us. It's rather barbaric when you step back a little.

Another example of our denying our animal nature is in our treatment of animals. Some high-brows think that not killing animals is a sign of superiority. It's a sign of weakness in the eyes of nature. It denies the basic survival instinct. We are omnivores, we eat meat and vegetable matter. This alone points to our adaptation for survival by any means.

Going back to the point, we're animals. Just as we can achieve great things, we can be extremely violent. If you are into Eastern philosophy, then you know that there is a balance. If you deny one side of your nature, it brings imbalance. Let me put it this way, if you are non-violent, a person who is all-violent will make short work of you. If, on the other hand, you accept that violence has a place in our lives, then there is balance and a level of detente. Take for example, the peaceful Shaolin monks. They are equally peaceful as they are capable of kicking your ass. So, if you have issues with Gibson's use of violence in Apocalypto, you are forgetting that Jaguar Paw only did horrible things because of his love for his family. He did it to save his own life and the lives of his wife and children. If you are incapable of violence for the safety of your loved ones... what can I say? You are willing to sacrifice your family for some academic ideal. That's equally barbaric.

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