Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sitting on the floor.

It was a theme on Thursday. I went to a philosophy department talk on the appropriateness of teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. I arrived at 3:17 (it started at 3:15) and there were almost no seats left. There were already students sitting on the floor in the aisles, and rather than disrupt a row by making people stand while I slid past, I took a seat on the floor.

Dr. Nunan spoke mostly about the history of the ID movement, beginning with Creationism. The most interesting parts addressed what Creationists "did wrong" in terms of getting their proposed policy past the courts, and how ID advocates have changed their strategy.

Towards the end Dr. Nunan posed some questions about this issue that would have to be addressed in the future. He also recognized that although ID is often deemed outrageous by the secular world, religious parents have a legitimate concern: because school is compulsory and evolution seems to be necessary to science curriculum, shouldn't some alternative or an "opt-out" be offered as well? I enjoyed the talk, but it was more about process than ideology, so it would have been more appropriate as a political science department sponsored event.

After the talk, I met my friend Sarah and we went to see the advanced screening of Borat. We arrived half an hour early, and there was a line to the end of the parking lot. The organizers had given out too many passes! We stayed anyway, hoping for a spot, and it paid off. We were the last two people let in (have you ever had a velvet rope opened for you and then closed behind you? It's a good feeling. Then I had to remind myself that it was just a movie...)

There weren't two seats together, so we sat on the floor on the aisle. The movie was so wonderfully, universally offensive. I can't think of an ethnic/minority group that Borat didn't say something offensive about. Borat was traveling across the country, and there are a lot of his interactions with "regular" people in it. Borat would say something offensive, like an anti-Semitic comment or something about how women have smaller brains than men, and then the regular people would start their own tirades. I think some of it was acted, and the rest of the people had to sign waivers or releases, but this movie might get some people in trouble.

Here's my question: is something less offensive if it is universally offensive? Borat had demeaning views about Jews, black people, women, southerners, gay people, and almost everyone in between. Does the fact that we (the audience) can say "Oh, well he's like that about everyone." temper our personal reactions, whether or not we're offended? I don't get offended easily, especially from movies. But I can see a lot of people being offended by this one.

My recommendation: go see it. Laugh at Borat and how ridiculous he is, but don't turn this movie into an Old School-esque quote fest. That would get annoying very quickly.

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