Sunday, February 05, 2006

Games & Violence

It's double whammy weekend, when dreaded televised sports are coming at me from two directions: the Super Bowl and the upcoming Olympics. I don't watch either, and am bored by all of the media attention. I freely admit that it's because I associate televised sports with bad years of my childhood, when my parents were fighting and my father moved into the basement and at night I couldn't sleep because of the sounds of the ball games drifting up the stairs. The distant sound of a tv baseball game is the soundtrack of the stress of my early family life. And, during one summer Olympics - I'd guess 1972, because things were already changing for us by 1976 - we went on vacation and I remember my father never wanted to leave the lodge/rec room of the camping ground because he wanted to watch the games. The bad part wasn't that my father wasn't going to go with us to Hershey Park, (I don't think we kids cared, as here was a man who'd left us for a year and only recently moved back in) but that the fights about it never stopped.

On a related note, I saw "Munich" yesterday, a tired rainy Saturday afternoon. I wanted to see it because of all the accolades (and in my attempts to see as many Oscar nominees as possible) but the sad truth is that it's just way too violent for me. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great movie, well-made with strong acting, thought-provoking and powerful scenes, and yet I had to cover my eyes a lot. I know, I'm more squeamish than most. But at least the film, like "A History of Violence," is about the effects of violence (in a nutshell, "can you use violence to combat violence or does it only breed more violence?") and so it's not the kind of movie where the audience cheers when the "bad" guy's head explodes from a well-placed bullet. (At least not in the good theater in my neighborhood - the idiots in the megaplex up the block were likely cheering from the moment the terrorists fired the first shot in the Olympic Village in the opening scene.)

I'm busily catching up with leaving feedback for classmates in my new online class, which is harder than it should be. I have five to do this week (as opposed to the usual 3-4) but I feel overwhelmed. Maybe because I haven't been completely swept away by the last two I read - they were good, well-written, but not so fantastic that I had no constructive criticism to offer. That sounds like it would make it easier to respond, but it doesn't, because you are expected to give two positives and two negatives, and try not to repeat any of the previous feedback left by the other students, so when I'm late to the class and the last to comment, I'm left with very little positive to add that's any different. I also have a hard time lying - I read others' statements like, "This is fabulous!" for almost every piece, and I think, wow, do they really believe that or are they being kind? I don't think all the submissions in these classes are of equal quality, and I don't like diminishing the kudos I give one that's really deserving (and some, truly, blow my socks off) by saying the same things about those that are just good or even mediocre.

The sun is shining. It's supposed to be windy, otherwise I'd think about sitting in the park to do some of my homework.


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