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Mar-Apr, 2009


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good (people) do nothing."

Edmund Burke

movie poster, Changeling; festivale film review

I've never been a fan of nice people. You know the ones -- they drive much the same car as their peer group, they believe much the same superstitions and religions as their peer group, they inherit a code of behaviour that they call morality without straining a brain cell in soul-seeking and questioning and making honourable decisions about what is honourable.

Nice people don't rock the boat. Nice people don't go against authority. Nice people give generously to war funds without thinking. Nice people lived in Germany when Hitler came to power. Nice people owned slaves. Nice people sent their sons off in the Christian crusades to kill the infidels. Nice people pat themselves on the back for being born in the best country in the world -- without placing any criteria on what makes a "good" country.

A country is a place. So a good country is probably fertile enough to support life, large enough to support a reasonable population, fair-weathered enough for the health and comfort of its population.

A country is also a community -- people and their accepted government. Accepted because the government is small and empowered by the vast number who are ruled by it. Party politics encourages the powerful (monied, privileged) few to drive a country to suit themselves. Does this mean that the country is really just a small group of special interests who are willing to make an effort to improve their own lot and a great number of unthinking, unquestioning, drones who confuse morality with conformity?

Arthur Miller was one of many individuals whose thinking and messages were rejected by their country. He wrote a great play The Crucible. The noisy trials and dramatic deaths of innocent women in Salem were doubtless very exciting to the local "nice" people. All adrenaline and no responsibility. A real talk-show audience.

It's not surprising that when the American government set out on a cultural cleansing they attacked the creative community. It is the nature of creativity to SEE. The creative process is about taking the world and showing it in a different way. This is what we call reframing, like the pictures that could be a young woman or an old crone depending on where you look. Fiction and non-fiction both are at their best when they reframe, when they take what is generally believed and show it to be something else. For those who are in power, who want things to be seen their way creative, independent thinkers are the great evil.

On the other hand, to the creative, to the independent, to those who want to do good, those who wield the hammer of power without conscience or remorse are the true evil-doers.

From time to time among the dross of mindless, sensation-driven flicks; glossy, shallow, thoughtless blockbusters and sticky-sweet escapism there can be found a message of value.

The story of Emile Zola was once such story, Miller's Crucible was another. Some of these stories are about real heroism -- not burning buildings or running real fast on a football field or singing in revealing clothes, but standing for what is just in a world that has no respect for justice.

All of which brings me to Changeling, the story of a woman who overcame cultural imperatives that enslave women even to this day, and overcame loud voices, corrupt officials, those who lie to hide their mistakes, to have her truth heard. In these days when having the wrong name, the wrong complexion, or the wrong religious beliefs is a license to be executed we should look for heroes who are willing to speak and act.

Ali Kayn

Since the fall of the Twin Towers, America has led the world in an orgy of witchhunting, allowing those in power to embark on personal vendettas with hordes of nice people marching along behind them. More power to the voices behind Changeling who remind us with their tale of the past that it is the responsibility of the people to rule the passions and ambitions of their servants in government.

Ali Kayn
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Feb, 2009.