Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Boys, toys and wish fulfilment
I watched a rather mediocre film last night called Jumper. The plot suggested that through time aberrational humans with the godly power to leap through wormholes to any point in the world they liked (fixed by a photograph from a brochure etc) were being hunted down by religious fanatics who were protecting Godâ€™s monopoly on said powers. The central characters were two young men, the subject of this demon hunting. Being young they could rob banks by appearing inside their strong rooms, drive cars at unbelievable speeds and get the girls, though the film stopped short of them appearing inside the underclothes of unsuspecting prey.
It was another example of the escape fantasy genre for the young adult, whose immortality seems more assured than the likelihood of death (the reason why boys should be kept off motor bikes until they are in their mid twenties and have developed a neuron or two of realism.). Anyway, whatever the value of films as aesthetic artifacts, even those that have little merit can provide instances of fulfilment for the craving viewer. The language of the medium is so advanced that even the most neanderthal director shoots within acceptable artistic limits, producing pleasing visual effects and juxtapositions. Turn the sound off when the dialogue is clunky and/or the sound track is a noisy interference and focus on light and shade, figures against landscapes, desert beauty or urban decay. Because it lasts ninety minutes plus, every film has something worthy to offer, if, like an inveterate Oxfam shop browser, you are willing to put up with the gungy crassness, the fetid smells and the acres of detritus in order to find a little treasure.
How we spend our time is important, unless we are nihilistic and have a value free journey through life that is completely devoid of meaning. We can easily embrace far more fulfilment in our lives than we do but curious counteractive, negative forces often prevail and we end up doing little of consequence. Zen teaches us to focus in depth on everything around us and by doing so we can draw new meaning from the every day. In qualitative research terms, the clichÃ© is to make the every day exotic. See everything like a Martian just arrived on earth.
So, back to Jumper and wish fulfilment. The essence of its limited appeal is that it feeds on the desire to bend reality to an individualâ€™s narcissistic tendencies.
Well, here in Accra, it can be an every day experience. As we sit in a line of traffic at a crossroads, we can roll down the window and drop twenty pence in the hands of a thin but lively youth carrying a flag, a tree branch or anything he can wave to look authoritative. Off he races to the crossroads and belligerently stops the cross flow, waving us through like royalty, yelling ‘Bless you!“. In Ghana, money bends reality like Uri Geller does with spoons or super heroes do in films.