Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Last Man Standing
Yesterday I mentioned that—against my better judgment and firmly in the grip of sailboat lust—I went to the video store and came home with a newly-released movie about a prestigious sailboat race from Long Beach to Honolulu, the Transpac.
A slick Disney documentary called Morning Light.
Ordinarily I don't rent Hollywood movies, but I was ill, smitten by Southern California and sailing fever.
More excuses: our trip took us through Santa Barbara where our son, Ted, went to college and where many memories of him resound. I hurt with missing Ted who is in Africa (Peace Corps) and will be there for another year and a half. Morning Light features 15 young adults who happen to be about the same age as my son, Ted. A youth fix. It's like Reya missing Jake and wanting to walk someone else's dog.
And so—guilty pleasure—I watched this movie. And just loved it.
And then I hated it. God, I hated it because I loved it. I know better, really.
Morning Light takes its place among the lowest form of entertainment: last man standing. This movie is not as obvious as others like Survivor or Fear Factor, but still, LMS is near the heart of this movie. There's the nod to the need for teamwork among the boat's crew, and these sailors don't finish first.
But at bottom, the movie is about 30 young adults competing for 11 spots on the boat. There are scenes of triumph and defeat as the group is winnowed down to the "select few."
And then there's the whole dimension of wealth and privilege. This crew is comprised mostly of students or recent graduates from the world's best universities. This is a movie about privilege being bestowed upon the over-privileged at the hands of the egregiously über-privileged.
We're all vulnerable to some degree or another to the appeal of LMS. It's built out of fear. Fear of dying, I guess.
But Last Man Standing is wrong. It's false. It obscures the basic truth that all life is interconnected. We're all in this together. Even the richest and most privileged know this is true. After all, when they need help—Wall Street Bailouts—we're there for them, treading water, as we toss our life jackets into the life rafts lashed to the decks of their yachts.