Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Sinead
Random Thoughts for Today
Today I want to touch upon a few things that are outside the normal topics. There are three things high on the Google Search list that have nothing to do with politics but have everything to do with them. Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Sinead. Let’s get started, shall we?
Barbie was the highest-grossing movie in the land last weekend. Opening sales of $162M dwarfed Oppenheimer, which came in at a whopping $82.5M. On any other weekend, Oppenheimer would be the king with those numbers. However, Barbie is a juggernaut of a movie. It has stars including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, and Dame Helen Mirren. You might say that Oppenheimer has more stars, and that would be correct. From the talented Cillian Murphy to Robert Downey, Jr., to Emily Blunt, Jack Quaid, Florence Pugh, and Oscar Winners Rami Malik and Matt Damon, Oppenheimer is filled with stars. So what made Barbie more appealing to moviegoers?
Start with Director Greta Gerwig. She has directed outstanding movies such as Lady Bird and Little Women. As a female director in a world dominated by men, she has made a mark for herself and opened doors for other women to follow. Her take on Barbie is designed to be a lighthearted take on the world of Barbie toys. It is a movie for all ages. Little girls will love it, but parents will love it too because it has many adult innuendos. I have not seen it, but after hearing some glowing reviews, it is on our list.
However, Barbie has its detractors. Namely, men get triggered by hearing that Patriarchy isn’t the best, and perhaps Matriarchy is better for women. Ben Shapiro, a notorious right-wing talking head, ranted for 45 minutes about the movie. He has received much ridicule for his commentary, which starts with him setting fire to a Barbie doll to protest the “most woke movie I have ever seen.” Even if I hadn’t seen the reviews about how good the movie is, I would want to see any move that provokes Shapiro to set fire to a toy doll.
Woke is a term the far-right uses to describe anything they do not like or do not understand. Our Governor-cum-presidential-wannabe, Ron Desantis, uses that word like a sailor uses expletives. He notably claimed that “Florida is where Woke goes to die” before he began to rubber-stamp policies that hurt many humans because he didn’t like who they were or what they were. Those policies have now become policies that make the better claim that Florida is where freedom goes to die.
Shapiro and the people who follow him would naturally be triggered by a movie where all men weren’t gun-toting Alpha Males. Add the fact that the Barbie Movie tells the tale of women who are empowered and don’t have to have men to run their lives for them, it is easy to see why Barbie is such a hit. I would wager that Shapiro’s rant has done more to promote the Barbie movie than the media buys budgeted by the producers. When I see the Barbie Movie, I will report back. My friend, Chris Kratzer, stated on Facebook last night that Barbie is what the Gospel looks like in movie form. That makes me want to see it now more than ever.
Warning Spoilers for the movie Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer was the other big-grossing movie of the weekend. My wife and I saw it yesterday for our 20th Anniversary Date-night. I am a history buff, and I love seeing movies based on historical things. Besides the star power of the movie (Christopher Nolan directed it), the story was well put together, and it made you look at history in a new light.
The Atom bombs that America dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended WWII in a spectacularly immense show of power. The movie builds the suspense of the father of the A-Bomb as he headed the Manhattan Project in the race to build a bomb that would end the war before the Germans, who had nearly two years of head start in the race.
The movie also shows the politics behind the project. The RDJ, Jr. character, Strauss, used the brilliance of, and his friendship with, Oppenheimer to not only build the bomb; but when the movie shows how Oppenheimer realized the terrible nature of the weapon and how it could be co-opted to start the Cold War, he had a change of heart. Oppenheimer wanted us to work with Russia to ensure that the arms race that followed would not happen. Strauss turned on his friend and used his reluctance to build up arms and his decision not to work on the H-bomb as a stepping stone to obtain a cabinet position under Truman. Strauss masterminded a plan to paint Oppenheimer as a Communist. I will not go into more detail about the end, but I wanted to make a point about politics.
The movie shows how politics play into a situation. Oppenheimer was married to a woman who once had been a Communist party member, as was his brother and his mistress, Jean Tadlock. His dear friend, Chevalier, was also a Communist party member. Oppenheimer never was a member. Even though these things were known before the appointment as Project Director, it wasn’t a problem until he decided bombing the shit out of people was not a humane thing to do.
This movie is a cautionary tale for anyone who believes in a cause. Oppenheimer believed that a bomb would stop the war, but he believed in using it to stop the war through the sheer threat of what it could do, not necessarily by actually using it on people. A deterrent rather than a weapon of mass destruction.
The movie is a classic example of how people will use the fears of others to control them or to get the outcome they want. Strauss and McCarthy used Communism in the 50s to strike fear in people's hearts. Anyone who didn’t toe the line that the Russians were bad was labeled Communist. People who spoke out against McCarthyism were Communists. If you were the slightest bit liberal in your thinking, you were a Communist. Careers were ruined, and lives were shattered because of fear.
Much like the use of the term Woke is used to instill fear or animus in anyone who doesn’t like change or doesn’t understand something. Politicians are using the term to stoke the fires of fear and hatred in people whom they want to control. Anyone who refuses to buy into othering people who are not like them is branded as Woke. Policies they disagree with are labeled as Woke ideology. Today, mental health care for someone with Gender Dysphoria is Woke. As are the actual act of transitioning, gay marriage, and abortion. Today, women are being denied lifesaving medical treatment; Transgender people are being denied lifesaving medical or psychological treatment; Children are being denied books, and teachers are denied the ability to recognize that there are families that are non-traditional out of fear. Fear that something a minority of people don’t agree with, or believe in, will be recognized as legitimate in society. And because of these fears, people are being marginalized, and their rights are trampled. Their lives are at stake in some cases, all to allay the fears of a few at the risk of the many.
Yesterday Sinead O’Conner passed away. Details are not known on the cause of her death. There will be speculations because she has suffered from mental health issues for years. She lost her son, who was just 17, last year. She was ostracized because she dared speak out about the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse, and she ripped up a picture of the Pope on international television. For that, she was othered into career oblivion. She was booed onstage. She was boycotted and lost her livelihood for daring to speak out about the unspeakable. She spoke out against the abuse of the church. She might as well have called Jesus bad names. People for centuries have done bad things in the name of religion. From the Crusades to Witch Hunts, to Jihads, to bombing buildings, people have hurt others for disagreeing. In the very name of religion, we hurt the ones Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and others warned us to protect. Sinead stood up for the ones who could not speak for themselves, and because of Religion, she paid a price. We failed to listen to the woman and see what was right in front of us because we had blinders on. There was massive proof of what she spoke against, yet because it was perceived as a personal attack by some, she was attacked. It was a classic example of killing the messenger instead of receiving the message. Maybe now she can rest, because this tortured soul stood up for what she thought was right, and no good deed goes unpunished. I leave you with this example of her music to think about.