Movie review: Pursuit of Happyness and Wild Swans

Last night Paul picked up the new DVD release of Pursuit of Happyness at the grocery store. It just came out on video. I have wanted to see it ever since I watched the Oprah where Chris Gardner and Will Smith appeared on her show a couple months ago.
We watched the movie last night, and this afternoon I watched the various extras in the special features section they provide on the DVD; the making of the movie, interviews with the director and Chris Gardner. I’m listening to bebe winans song “I can” as I type right now. What an amazing movie! I was struck listening to the Italian director, he felt it was crucial this movie be made by a foreigner because American directors would not be able to tell it right. I knew exactly what he meant as he spoke.
Will Smith in describing this movie, said it was about hope, being able to overcome odds, a story about being able to dream no matter what your circumstances are, and fathers and sons. As he was talking Chris Gardner said he ultimately wanted to set an example of Fathers taking care of their children, breaking the cycles of abandonment…etc…
The one word I did not hear during the whole movie and all of the extras was the word Capitalism. I believe the Italian Movie director was implying that Americans do not understand what it means to pursue the American Dream because we take so many things for granted. So many of our assumptions as Americans revolve around the realities of Capitalism and the guarantees of individual rights that we all enjoy. Yet the fact that our schools are blatently teaching Socialism as the ideal creates a sense of shame around our corporations and industry. In some circles Capitalism has been turned into an ugly, selfish word. The films producers called Capitalism, The American Dream, a more nuanced description of our form of economics.
The director said:
“To appreciate and understand the American Dream, you have to be a foreigner.” He said Chris is the essence of the American Man who wanted to make it and he did make it.
This wonderrful movie is a celebration of Capitalism and individual rights.
Juxtiposed with this experience of enjoying and cherishing the message of this excellent movie has been the experience I have been having these past few weeks re-reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang. This is the third time I have read this book. I first read it while I was pregnant with Ben in 2002. Then I bought the paperback copy of the book and read it right when it showed up a few years ago, and then I picked it up a few weeks ago for a re-read. I have been reading it slowly this time. It has been a busy time with the Gathering of Eagles efforts, so I have not blasted through it as I usually do with most of the books I read. This time I have marked a few passages that I wanted to share here on my blog.
I keep thinking of the little cretin who showed up at the anti war rally with that Mao T-Shirt. What an arrogant little ball of collectivist ignorance juxtiposed with American Freedom of Expression.

He shows up later in this movie I made at the Denver Anti War Rally. He claimed that the people who died in China died of Famine. Thinking about his words and beliefs while I have read this book has actually made me feel nauseated. Truly sick to my stomach that politcally active people in our country would believe that Mao’s China is the ideal.
Here are a couple of passages from Changs book. This book and her bio of Mao should be required reading for all of our Professors and anyone who would call themselves “educated” in our society.
P. 136 from the chapter titled A Revolutionary marriage:

My grandmothers brother in law, “Loyalty” Pei-o, was exciled to the country to do manual labor. Because he had no blood on his hands, he was given a sentence called “under surveillance”. Instead of bing imprisoned, this meant being guarded (just as effectively) in society. His family chose to go to the country with him…. His work “under surveillance” lasted three years. It was rather like assigned labor under parole. People under surveillance enjoyed a measure of freedom, but they had to report to the police at regular intervals with a detailed account of everything they had done, or even thought, since their last visit, and they were openly watched by the police.”

P 210 China Silenced

In the early 1950’s, a communist was supposed to give herself so completely to the revolution and the people that any demonstration of affection for her children was forwned on as a sign of divided loyalties. Every single hour apart from eating or sleeping belonged to the revolution, and was supposed to be spent working. Anything that was regarded as not to do with the revolution, like carrying your children in your arms, had to be dispatched with as speedily as possible.

At first, my mother found this hard to get used to. “putting family first” was a criticism constantly leveld at her by her party colleagues.”

P. 225 Famine

“The whole nation slid into doublespeak. Words became divorced from reality, responsibility, and people’s real thoughts. Lies we were told with ease because words had lost their meanings – and had ceased to be taken seriously by others.

This was entrenched by the further regimentation of society. When he first set up the communes, Mao said their main advantage was that they “are easy to control,” because the peasants would now be in an organized system rather than being, to a ceratin extent, left alone. They were given detailed orders from the top about how to till their land. Moa summed up the whole of agriculture in eight characters: “soil, fertilizer, water, seeds, dense planting, protection, tendind, technology” The party central committe in Peking was handing out two-page instructions on how peasants all over China should improve their fields, another page on how to use fertilizers, another on planting crops densely. Their incredibly simplistic instructions had to be strictly followed: the peasants were ordered to replant their crops more densely in one mini-campaign after another.

Another means of regimentation, setting up canteens in the communes, was an obsession with Mao at the time. In his airy way, he defined communism as “public canteens with free meals” The fact that the canteens themselves did not produce food did not concern him. In 1958 the regime effectively banned eating at home. Every peasant had to eat in the commune canteen. Kitchen utensils like woks and in some places, money, were outlawed. Everybody was going to be looked after by the Commune and the State…..

The failure to get in the harvest in 1958 flashed a warning that a food shortage was on its way, even though the official statistics showed a double digit increase in agricultural output. It was officially announced that in 1958 China’s wheat output had overtaken that of the United States. The party newspaper, the Peoples Daily, started a discussion on the topic, “How do we cope with the problem of producing too much food?”

P. 304 My Parents Dilemma:

“I was not forced to join the Red Guards. I was keen to do so. In spite of what was happening around me, my aversion and fear ad no clear object, and it never occured to me to question the Cultural Revolution or the Red Guards explicitly. They were Mao’s creations, and Mao was beyond contemplation.

Like many Chinese, I was incapable of rational thinking in those days. We were so cowed and contorted by fear and indoctrination that to deviate from the path laid down by Mao would have been inconceivable. Besides, we had been overwhelmed by deceptive rhetoric, disinfomation, and hypocrisy, which made it virtually impossible to see through the situation and to form an intelligent judgement.”

I would recomend wild swans and the happyness movie as excellent sides to an economic coin.
A few months ago Paul and I were talking about the doublethink that is currently part of American Culture in regards to the medical profession. He had just read Natan Sharanskys The Case for Democracy and we were discussing the fact that if you decide to deviate from the current medical orthodoxy in regards to birthing, not immunizing, and other so-called dogmas of medical practice, there is a very real chance that you could have your children taken away by social services, or be looking at a court order to force you to have whatever treatment is being recomended. The fear tied around this reality keeps the vast majority of families marching lockstep to big pharmas marching orders.
When Parents who are just trying to protect their little ones from being medically damaged are called child abusers and social workers feel justified in taking away children for medical neglect, I know it is hard to comprehend, but the threat is real and is happening in various cases around the country. This form of American group think is a blight on our freedoms and individual sovereignty.
I am all about Freedom and families being given complete rights of self determination over the health of their children.
Jenny Hatch

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