RMR: Beasts of the Southern Wild

(Quvenzhzé Wallis)It’s late. I have 6 straight hours of class tomorrow (which is a lot for a college student), but I just checked the final best picture nomination off the list and I’m opinionated. (I’m not considering Amour as a nomination. Looks too depressing and just no fun. Not seeing it.)

Beasts of the Southern Wild was an absolutely stellar movie. It has the best camerawork I’ve seen in awhile. The characters and acting were all suburb, and the story can’t get much better. I think I enjoyed it so much because I had absolutely no expectations going in.

Although I enjoyed the movie from an entertainment standpoint, the movie still upset me. A lot.

The story follows a young girl that lives outside the levi in Louisiana in a community called the “Bathtub.” They do what they want. Drinking, partying, child abuse, you name it. When a Katrina-like storm comes it leaves the survivors in a tough spot. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m stopping there with the synopsis.

Politically-charged movies can be extremely moving at times. There are dozens of redeeming themes to this movie such as caring for one’s neighbor, unconditional family love, doing what you must to survive, and living the way you want to live, despite all other obstacles. Sometimes these themes can be taken to dangerous lengths.

Anarchy is one of the main themes that came to mind to me. Although “doing your own thing” can sound like a utopia, it was disturbing to find myself rooting for a community where education, discipline, responsibility, and any structure at all was viewed as evil. Where hospitals with hurricane refugees were viewed as prisons where one must violently break out of. Where blowing up a levi, potentially devastating to thousands of people, was celebrated just so the outlaws can drain the bathtub. Where blowing up your own house for no reason with no reprussions besides a good ol’ beating by papa, is okay. I found an article that took it even farther to compare it to Marxism, but I’ll leave it at anarchy for now.

Okay this is all fine and good. Movies are for entertainment, right? It’s rated PG-13, and if you’re, 13 you’re probably able to handle these themes even if you don’t completely understand it. As long as this movie isn’t shown at the White House and celebrated by the First Lady as one of the most important movies in a long time.

You guessed it. Michelle Obama called it just that. I guess my blog is based all around my opinion, but I think this is the first time I’m mentioned anything too political.

I was shocked that she showed the movie to middle-school aged audiences. I remember in middle school I needed a parent’s signature to see PG movies and they are showing PG-13 movies to them at the White House? That’s besides the point. The point is the FLOTUS mentioned many of the redeeming themes such as “Strength our community gives us… Hope in the midst of devastation…” and called it “beautiful, joyful, and devastatingly honest.” But failed to mention any of the other themes. The themes unmentioned that are going to stick with me way longer than something as wildly ambigous such as hope, joy, honesty.

I can’t disagree with anything she says. But there are many themes that shouldn’t be celebrated. Does it make it a bad move? Absolutely not. But if there is going to be a movie celebrated at the White House, it shouldn’t be a movie centered around anarchy, destruction, and living how you want to live with blatant disregard for anyone else. They burn a house down, blow up a levi, abuse their children, raise havoc in a hospital, and drink til they pass out. All qualities you want in your children, right?  I wonder what a middle-school David would do if the FLOTUS showed this to me and called it inspirational, joyful, and honest. I’d probably think “I don’t need school! I don’t need to shower! Let’s go blow some sh** up!” It is just impossible to celebrate the good while turning a blind eye the oh so bad.

It would not surprise me if Beasts takes home a few Oscars on Sunday, but let’s be careful about taking home every theme this movie gives us.

Like it or not, that’s what I think I think.


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