Thursday, February 01, 2007

The American Mind

"Hey!", you will shout, "You are Romanian, what do you know about the American mind?". And you would be right. I don't know much about the American mind, but I do know what I see on the news and in the movies. And three movies I've recently seen opened my eyes even more.

First of all This Film Is Not Yet Rated talks about the MPAA and the way they enforce the ratings on movies. You might think that is not so important, but each rating brings with it a different possible audience size. There is a huge difference between the last two ratings R and NC-17 because an NC-17 movie doesn't get picked by distribution companies, nor does it reach into theaters.

What does that mean? It means people in the entire USA see nothing but what the MPAA deems "decent". Statistics show that in the last 50 years they mostly rate R violent movies, no matter how violent, while NC-17 are films which involve sex or even the manifestation of sexual pleasure. Do you think that has any connection with the fact the average American is a violent and militaristic puritan? Interesting enough, the MPAA "council" is completely secret. Movie directors get answers like "your film is NC-17 and we don't tell you who we are and why we rated it like this". Also, check out how the MPAA is financed by the biggest 7 film studios in Hollywood, which own 95% of all movie industry in the US and belong to conglomerates that own 90% of the entire US media!

Another interesting fact is that in that council there are two religious representatives, which brings me to the next two movies: Jesus Camp and The God Who Wasn't There.

Jesus Camp is a pretty famous documentary, because it was mostly comprised of filmed video footage and there were almost no comments in it, yet it spun a lot of controversy. Fundamentalists praised it and so did Anti-fundamentalists and atheists alike. It showed how children are entranced and then conditioned to believe in Creationism, to actively oppose abortion (when they are children), to support Bush and to think that they must act as soldiers that bring America back "under God". This camp teaches the Pentecostal religion, maybe only an extreme version of it, but what is majorly important in this religion is the Rapture. The Rapture is the second coming of Jesus, which will quickly take all true believers to Heaven, then end the world. Maybe even reformat the hard drive. 22% of Americans are Pentecostals who believe Jesus will come during their lifetime. Why wonder Americans don't really care what happens to the Earth? A major Pentecostal preacher is a weekly counselor for the White House and, interviewed in this movie, said that if Evangelicals vote, they determine the outcome of US elections. Pretty scary stuff. Even more scary is the fact that they are a big religion with between 40 and 80 million adepts and no one can do anything about this child brainwashing that they do in this camp (and a lot of others, I guess). David Byrne, from Talking Heads, said in his blog that he saw no difference between this camp and the extreme Muslim madrases training people to blow themselves up.

The God Who Wasn't There starts off like an atheist movie that proves most of Christianity is copied from other older religions, including details, and that average common sense makes believing in a religion like this kind of stupid. The special effects and direct attacks against religion made me think that this is an extreme in itself. Atheists turned anti-theists and throwing everything they have at poor people that believe stuff like that. This until the guy admitted he was a Christian Fundamentalist until the age of 15, when he actually decided everything he was taught under threat of eternal damnation was plain stupid.

OK. Back to the main point. Now I understand more about the American Mind. I understand how a nation that created the ideas of secular state, individual freedom and freedom of faith can also be hard ass conservatives, God fearing and warmongers in the same time. How most American morality is ridiculously naive when concerning sex while in the same time the US is producing the most adult content in the world. I realize why some of the Americans I talk to are really smart and funny people and others sound like rednecks from old Westerns, why US science is the most advanced in the world while in the same time regulated by people following 1st century morality.

Therefore I highly recommend seeing these films. Eye openers.


Lee Decker said...

I'm an American and I must say, everything you said is very well put and I would say it is extremely true. Sadly we seem to be a nation where the moderate thinkers and those that can actually show tolerance of others are the minority of the people. There seems to be an army of people who one way or another want to force their views on everyone else. Whether it is a religious person horrified at the idea that someone doesn't believe the same as they do, or the atheist who is horrified that the US Dollar has the words "In God We Trust" written on it. It would seem we are a nation of hypocrites. The ultra conservative war mongering puritans who secretly enjoy the very things they condemn. And the ultra liberals who preach of peace and love and getting along with everyone else, but want to force these views on the world in a surprisingly tyrannical way. I remember America the way I saw it when I was a child, and I miss that illusion now that I have grown up and can see it's faults as well.