'Cause I Said So…

The Education of Matt Damon

Posted in Cinema, Education, Entertainment, Films, Media, Movies, Politics, Popular Culture by kevinsoberg on August 5, 2011

Since his breakout hit movie, Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon has been in the public eye. He has used his celebrity to advance a Left-leaning political agenda. Much of his advocacy, especially of public education, is premised on how he is seen by the public as “intelligent”. This aura of intelligence is simply a shadow cast by his portrayal of the (self-styled) character, Will Hunting, from his Oscar-winning screenplay.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, here’s a brief description of the character. Will Hunting is a young man, probably early- to mid- twenties. He has been born and reared in a lower-income area. He has anger-control and abandonment issues, probably stemming from childhood abuse. He has been in and out of state correctional and social systems since early youth. He has adopted a group of friends as his “family”, and is very protective of them. He works menial jobs. He lives alone. He is a genius, but his brilliance is a self-kept secret. So, he lacks a formal education.

During the course of the movie, the following happen: Will solves a mathematical puzzle. He meets a girl. His genius is discovered. He is re-arrested. He is rescued and mentored by an acclaimed professor. He enters court-ordered therapy. He begins a relationship.

As you watch the film, you notice certain attitudes, which appear counter-intuitive to what one would expect. As a curious, self-educated man, you wouldn’t expect Will to mimic the academy’s line about class and economics. Having been passed as a child through an impersonal system, you would expect Will to have a general disdain of government’s ability to “aid” the individual.

Instead, Will calls out a Harvard student for quoting economics theory as his own, belittling his plagiarism of thought. Will claims the student has wasted money on an education freely obtained with a library card. The student counters that he will have a Harvard degree and the financial rewards which follow. Will finishes with an argument in favor of “original thinking”.

During the initial meeting with his psychologist, Will belittles the man’s personal library. Will asks if the man had even bothered to read the books. Seeing a US History book, Will suggests the man read Howard Zinn’s History of the American People, telling him it will blow his mind.

When his mentor sets up interviews with perspective employers, Will doesn’t keep the appointments, sends a friend in his place or treats the interviewers with disrespect. During an interview with the NSA, Will goes on a rant about how corporate interests run American foreign policy to the detriment of the public. While talking to his closest friend, Will expresses his wish to stay in the neighborhood working menial jobs. Will goes on about the nobility of manual labor. Will’s attitude is negative toward leaving his friends, until his best friend becomes angry about Will’s waste of his gifts.

I thought Will was supposed to be a “genius”. Is it “original thinking” to be anti-American, anti-property, and anti-capitalist? That sounds more like the left-wing pabulum spread by the academy. Most people I know who’ve come from a low-income situation appreciate education, upward mobility, and property. They’ve had to work hard to achieve them. Most Leftist revolutionaries have been from the highly educated and middle class, as everything was given to them and they sought something “more”.

The true mark of genius is the ability to better understand how the world operates, and how to work with it. Einstein was a genius because he better explained how the world worked, not because he wanted to blindly change it. When he saw how Germany was headed, where did he go? He could have easily gone to the USSR, but he chose the US. Might he have seen in the USSR a shade of the Statist regime he was leaving? He didn’t eschew profit upon arrival, so he doesn’t seem have been anti-capitalist. What are the three things for which he I best known? His Theory of Relativity (e=mc2). His Definition of Insanity (doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results). His Understanding of God (God doesn’t play dice).

When examining Will’s attitudes, we really see those which can more correctly be attributed to Matt Damon. Damon was reared by a college professor, Early Childhood Education. Damon was raised middle class, in Cambridge. Damon was educated at Harvard. Damon gave the Leftist attitudes in which he was inundated to his creation, thinking they would make Will sound even more intelligent. Instead, it made Will sound indoctrinated because, Mr. Damon, you are no genius…

An Assignment for the Willing

Posted in Cinema, Ethics, Films, Health Care, Media, Medicine, Morality, Movies, Popular Culture by kevinsoberg on March 19, 2011

Last weekend, I watched the movie Never Let Me Go (2010), starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. I had an immediate reaction to it and have been thinking about it ever since. The more I consider the theme and plot of this film, the more it affects me and the more I have to say.

What my reactions were and what my thoughts have been are for another posting. I have much to say about it, but not in this post. I don’t want my thoughts on it to bias or direct your reactions. This post is for one purpose: I want you to watch the movie.

I want you to watch Never Let Me Go and think. I want you to think about what you are watching and think about how it makes you feel. Then, when the movie is over, I want you to think about it some more.

I don’t work for the production company. I don’t work for the distributor. I have no financial interest in it in any way. Hell, I don’t even review movies.

Why am I asking you to do this? Because I believe your reactions and thoughts about this movie tells me, and can tell you, a lot about your thoughts on any number of subjects. Call it a Rorschach test, if you will.

Do I think the writer, the producers, the director, or any of the actors had my reactions in mind when creating this work? No, nor do I care. I have no way of knowing their intentions, not without possibly reading a lot of interviews. Even then, their intentions would be beside the point. My visceral and intellectual reactions to this film are mine.

If I were to watch a documentary on the Soviet Union, my reactions would be the same regardless of the perspective of the documentarian, pro or con. My reactions to viewing totalitarian socialism would be based solely on my personal philosophies. Even if dressed up and prettily painted, I would react negatively to totalitarianism given my libertarian beliefs.

Now, go watch the film, if you are willing. I know it’s available on Time/Warner Cable systems’ OnDemand. I don’t know about the other cable systems or the satellite providers, or what video rental places have it. I’m kind of doing this on the fly.

I have a lot of work to do, myself. I now have to put all these thoughts down into something which will be, hopefully, cohesive and understandable. Please, give me some time, as I am ponderously slow.