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Office Christmas Party

Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Sympathy for the Devil?

I wanted to comment on Mr. Ebert’s wonderful defense of the film “Crash,” COMMENTARY/601080310>Roger Ebert’s defense of his the best worst film of 2005. As with 2005’s other Terrence Howard vehicle, “Hustle and Flow,” I found it interesting to watch some more “enlightened” critics cringe at hints of sympathy for the devil. The criticism by Foundas did not seem to be of the film itself, but the idea that to understand is not only needlessly intellectual and heavy, but apparently as great a sin as intolerance. If only he had simply not liked the movie for its script or performances, I could be working right now instead of typing this small diatribe.

In recent years many Americans have begun to turn away from sociological explanations, and towards an idea that to understand a crime, and bother to understand the criminal, is equal somehow to condoning wrongdoing. Furthermore, to attempt to understand the racist is to excuse his or her racism. After all, all remaining racists in this country are neo-Nazis, not blue and white collar families living in integrated neighborhoods and workplaces, cheerfully sharing lemon squares at PTA meetings with the Latina mother of a child’s school friend. And said Latina mother may be just as resentful of her lemon square partner. Neither is justified, but neither is inherently evil, or even stupid. And neither is alone in her sentiments, even if they are wrong.

To treat racism like a rare mental illness or some inexplicable crime only allows it to grow like mold in some dark damp closet. Foundas is correct in that the enlightened person need not say “Some of my best friends are black.” The enlightened person, at least in my opinion, should be able to admit that, under the right circumstances, we are a little afraid, a little desperate, a little resigned to a reality we should not have to accept, and more than a little capable of intolerance.

Bethany Barry
New York, NY

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