Friday, April 13, 2018

An Empty Place: Inside the Mind of the Baizuo

Christians movie reviewers have been giving A Quiet Place two thumbs up: A Quiet Place: Movie Review
The movie's family-centered themes lead to a refreshing, healthy depiction of family love and hope that echo several biblical themes. Lee and Evelyn are a picture of a strong, husband and wife team, revealing a combination of tender love and no-nonsense partnership in survival. The roles of a mother and a father are explored through the ways Lee and Evelyn try to survive when separated. Evelyn shows her feminine strength through childbirth and protecting her baby, while Lee reveals his fatherly love for his daughter in a way that echoes biblical themes. There is even a scene of Lee and Evelyn leading their children in silent prayer before dinner, as if to say they can't simply rely on their own power to survive in this world.
The opening scene stuck with me for several days. It is a well done movie. Grading on a curve, it might be one of the most wholesome movies outside of a Christian production or Mel Gibson's Passion sequel.

OK, so the Christians are giving thumbs up to a horror movie that has some mild gore and probably isn't appropriate for ~12 and under. What do the Baizuo say? I'm glad you asked, because they didn't disappoint.

This HuffPo review is typical of Baizuo amd modern thinking:
John Krasinski’s new horror movie, “A Quiet Place,” does a pretty good job of answering viewers’ lingering questions, but a few essential ones are still bothering us. For example, why would a couple risk having a baby in a world that’s riddled with sound-sensitive monsters?
I think that is the point, early on in the film, that splits the Christians and non-Christians in the audience. Many moderns react like HuffPo or they react with "Gimme a break!" seeing it as a lame plot device. Whereas Christians and those who think like them, respond with horror and hope.

But let's get to the real Baizuo interpretation of the movie. Here's the New Yorker: The Silently Regressive Politics of “A Quiet Place”

You know it's going to be good when the title makes you laugh. Here we go:
The success of “A Quiet Place,” the new horror thriller directed by John Krasinski, is a sign of viewers craving emptiness, of a yearning for some cinematic white noise to drown out troubling thoughts and observations with a potently simple and high-impact countermyth. The noise of “A Quiet Place” is the whitest since the release of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; as horror films go, it’s the antithesis of “Get Out,” inasmuch as its symbolic realm is both apparently unconscious and conspicuously regressive.

“A Quiet Place” is the story of a white family living in rustic isolation that’s reduced to silence because a bunch of big, dark, stealthy, predatory creatures who can hear their every noise are marauding in the woods and, at any conspicuous sound, will emerge as if from nowhere and instantly maul them to death. I won’t spoil the plot twists, but Krasinski ultimately delivers a pair of exemplary images, a lone bearded man (whom he himself plays) with a rifle, and a lone woman (played by his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) aiming a rifle into the camera.
A single line defines the movie's message:
The only moment of authentic inner expression, the acknowledgment of any identity at all, arises when, under siege from the creatures, Evelyn challenges Lee when their children are in danger: “Who are we? Who are we if we can’t protect them?” In that moment, “A Quiet Place” disgorges its entire stifled and impacted ideological content. The movie’s survivalist horror-fantasy offers the argument for turning a rustic farmhouse into a virtual fortress, for the video surveillance and the emergency lighting and, above all, the stash of firearms that (along with a bit of high-tech trickery that it’s too good to spoil) is the ultimate game changer, the ultimate and decisive defense against home intruders.
Fully translated that bold portion becomes: We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.
The one sole avowed identity of the Abbott parents is as their children’s defenders; their more obvious public identity is as a white rural family. The only other people in the film, who are more vulnerable to the marauding creatures, are white as well. In their enforced silence, these characters are a metaphorical silent—white—majority, one that doesn’t dare to speak freely for fear of being heard by the super-sensitive ears of the dark others. It’s significant that when characters—two white men—commit suicide-by-noisemaking, they do so by howling as if with rage, rather than by screeching or singing or shouting words of love to their families. (Those death bellows are the wordless equivalent of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) Whether the Abbotts’ insular, armed way of life might put them into conflict with other American families of other identities is the unacknowledged question hanging over “A Quiet Place,” the silent horror to which the movie doesn’t give voice.
It takes years of schooling to so thoroughly empty a mind.

Bonus content: less than an hour after publishing this post the New Yorker entertains again: Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City
New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.

This emphasis on community, especially in the misguided nod to 9/11, suggests an ulterior motive. The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch.

Still, there’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers. Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety.
Nowhere does he mention who eats at Chik-Fil-A. Too disturbing.

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