Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The episode where Heroes died...

Okay, I've been watching this show since day one last year. I've read all the magazines, all the interviews. I've read stuff where Kring is talking about how he understands television and how guys like Loeb and the comic brains understand superpowers. I've read interviews (see Wired, May 2007) where Kring is going on about how he and the writers have story ideas for two, three seasons down the road. And I felt overjoyed. I had faith. But this season has been a phenomenally trying on someone who has gotten used to suspending disbelief in the comic book side of things while being absolutely in awe of how these characters behave and interact and something has gone seriously wrong. This ep, Four months ago, finally made me understand clearly how Heroes has lost its way.

On the surface this ep is very flashy. We were dying to know how people ended up the way they were, dying to see how all the little parts of these people lives unraveled after they were tied together in Kirby Plaza. Parkman's wife, why Nathan kept seeing his face disfigured, where his family went, what happened to the election, how they explained the nuclear fireworks, SYLAR, DL, Hiro, the Nightmare man, the Haitian, Claire and probably above all, Peter and where he goes from here. Does he embrace being a hero or does he live in seclusion like a hermit in the mountains? And this ep told us and showed us most of what we were dying to know. But there are 5 MASSIVE things that they did in this episode that I'm having a very hard time forgiving and I love this show, and I'm praying that someone can tell me I'm taking this too seriously or looking too much into things. So if you have an answer to any of these question please respond:

in increasing levels of incredulity

1) Nathan Petrelli telling his wife this fantastic story about how the last season of Heroes went down without a shred of proof. This guy's a politician for Christ's sake. He's going to tell someone a story like that without anything to back it up and expect them to believe that he can fly WIITHOUT GIVING A DEMONSTRATION. That's how he lost his family!?! Nathan is supposed to be shrewd and intelligent; he'd never do something so unbelievably stupid.

2) Peter leaving Nathan's side after taking him to the hospital. Did I miss something? I thought that I left the room for a second and missed another nuclear explosion. Because that's what it would have taken to take Peter away from his CRITICALLY IRRADIATED BROTHER WHO JUST FLEW INTO THE CLOUDS WITH HIM AND PROMISED NEVER TO LEAVE HIM. That was such a beautiful moment, that kind of hardcore courage, and Peter drops him off at the ER, sees a rent-a-cop eyeing him funny,...AND BAILS!!! YOU'RE BROTHER IS DYING IN THE OTHER ROOM!! And BTW, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU RUNNING FROM? DID YOU JAYWALK OR SOMETHING? Peter's not a coward, he'd never do that.

3) Peter Petrelli asking this guy that he's never met how to get out of a room with a door and windows. Okay guys, pop quiz: You're Peter Petrelli. You KNOW that you can a) move objects with your mind cool.gif fly c) pass through objects d) punch a guy's jaw off e) stop time f) teleport and g) turn invisible provided you stop taking you tablets. Would anyone reading this wonder how to get out of a room with a door and windows? And by the way, how the hell did they find Peter in the first place? They didn't have Molly Walker, did they? But Bob and Elle know what hospital he's taking his brother to, what corridor he's walking down, and when he's going to stop being INVISIBLE! Did anyone see IR goggles like when HRG and the Haitian went after Peter and Claude? Nope, not gonna explain that...

4) DL Hawkins, an evolved human with the ability to pass through matter, being shot twice in the span of 4 months. Maybe he's just unlucky. But to have us think that he died from being shot by Linderman (at the beginning of the season), only to have him recover, in order to die the EXACT SAME WAY in a club in LA. When exactly did these writers go on strike? If they wanted him off the show so badly, why did they bring him back, just to throw him out AGAIN THE EXACT SAME WAY! So that Niki will feel guilty for what she's done? She didn't feel guilty already?!? Killing him the SAME STUPID WAY, not saving his wife's life, not doing something heroic, doesn't that seem like just good old fashion lazy writing to you guys!? This show is supposed to be defined by imagination...

5) and I realize this may just mean I'm a fanatic. I just have watched the episodes too much. But I remember a pretty important scene last season where Peter's trying to get training for his powers from this Invisible Man. And Isaac Mendez rats him out and the Invisible man bails. And Peter's thinking 'I'm going to go nuclear and kill millions of people and this guy's trying to kill me over a girl' (Simone Deveaux). So he goes over there and he's so ****** off he's about to rip Isaac's head off. He throws him across the room, roughs him up and if Isaac didn't go and shoot Simone, one of them would have probably killed the other. So Peter was pretty worked up over this 'I'm going to kill millions of people' thing...

Then Bob and Elle capture him and he wakes up in a room. And he says I know you Bob, you know my parents. And Bob says were going to help you and get rid of those powers so you don't go 'nuking half the eastern seaboard'. Peter asks how. And Elle says we're doing it right now. Peter tries to use his powers. They're gone. How did you do that? Oh this guy behind you, the Haitian, he can nullify your powers.

So Peter almost went mad trying not to kill everyone he loves. Then he almost killed everyone he loves. Then he almost killed his brother saving everyone he loves. He scared, he's on the run. He wakes up powerless. This Haitian guy could have stopped everything, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING THAT HE'D BEEN MOST AFRAID OF HIS WHOLE LIFE - NUCLEAR ARMAGGEDON, THE END OF THE WORLD, MILLIONS OF DEATHS. AND HE DOESN'T EVEN SO MUCH AS ASK WHY THEY DIDN'T COME FOR HIM BEFORE HE WENT NUCLEAR! If Bob said they knew he was having problems with his powers and we had a guy that could have solved all that and we just didn't bring him by, PETER WOULD HAVE GONE BALLISTIC! WHY HAVE I BEEN TORTURING MYSELF, AND FIGHTING SYLAR TO THE DEATH, AND ASKING CLAIRE TO SHOOT ME IN THE HEAD IF YOU HAD A GUY WHO COULD HAVE STOOD NEXT TO ME AND MADE ALL THIS CRAP GO AWAY!?! Or better yet, why don't you let me absorb the Haitian's power so I could turn my powers off myself? Instead Peter's sitting in this room surrounded by people he doesn't know, powerless...AND HE TRUSTS THEM?!? That whole scene was just so empty. It felt like there was a millions questions he should have asked (like why did you shock me unconscious instead of just offering to help me) and he just went along with it. What about Sylar? Did you see him die? What if he still feels like going nuclear? What about your freaking mentor, Hiro Nakamura, the man that told you to 'Save the Cheerleader, Save the World?", the man who put you on the path? Did Peter spare one thought for either of them while he's telling his new best friend Bob, "Take my powers away. I don't care." Is this guy a hero or not?!?

Did none of this bother anybody? Are we really just okay with the way all this went down? The Haitian does Peter a favor by WIPING HIS MIND CLEAN! If he does that to his friends, what does he do to his enemies?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drip, drip


I just wanted to mention what I'm up to. I'm taking undergraduate courses at UofT after having graduated, so I can up my GPA. I have this course in Practical Immunology and the midterm is next week Wednesday. I've always had time management problems and I've managed to elude gaining this one skill by falling back on natural faculties, but I feel it catching up with me more and more.

Time is the only real lesson at university. Learning how to use it, prioritize it, ration it. I don't like the term 'make the most of time' because it suggests that you can't be productive procrastinating. You sure can, it just wouldn't be productive in an academic way. My friend used to do that all the time: she'd do housekeeping when she had to study. Productive, just not conducive to getting a good grade. We all do such strange things in our mind.

So this course is my little test: not test of the material, but test of myself. I have to stick to the little drip, drip of studying over the next 6 days. I have to manage my time like it's the last thing I do. I'm bright but if I don't learn this last lesson, I won't be bright when it counts.

- K

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Roman Polanski and consistent inconsistency


Never forget that the greatest flaw in people is their fanatical need for consistency. Moral consistency, ethical consistency, behavioral consistency. People would rather you be a murderer every day than a murderer some days and a saint others. Humans don't like the unexpected, it frightens them. And because we do so much driven by fear, humans aren't consistent. We are animals subject to whims and passions and very, very faulty reasoning that is often confused and mixed in with emotion and fear. The search for consistency is yet another dimension to the need for simplicity and as I've mentioned, some things are irreducibly complex. Always try to keep your mind loose and flexible to life's contradictions.

Take this director, Roman Polanski. He's rich and famous. He had sex with a 13 year old girl in 1977. This magnificent woman is all grown up, and while believing that what he did to her was wrong, she understands that it was one moment in time, that it doesn't invalidate all the good things he's done in his life, forgives him, lives her life, loves her family. She sees the long game for herself, her family, and she's seen what's most important.

But everyone else has a stake in this matter, on account of the human need for consistency. We created a legal system to enforce moral consistency. We created a news media to explore moral consistency. And when these systems find anything inconsistent, they go berserk.

So this famous director got a plea deal in 1977 for his crime, and the specter of inconsistency rose. A non-famous person wouldn't have gotten a plea for giving alcohol, drugs and (having consensual sex/raping) a 13 year old girl, some would've said. Polanski claims the judge was going to throw the book at him to make a point. Apply the law inconsistently to show how consistently harsh the law can be to pedophiles. Polanski felt the inconsistency breathing down his neck and fled. Fled to France for 30 years. Accepted an Oscar by satellite.

Now he was on his way to accept an award in person, this time in Switzerland. He's taken into custody by the Swiss from a request by the U.S. Marshals service on a 30 year outstanding warrant. Inconsistency, his supporters cry. Why pursue this old man, in his 70s, while letting other fugitives, violent fugitives, go by the wayside? What else could it be but a vendetta, on account of his fame and his flight from illegitimate prosecution? You see what happened there. The cry of inconsistency confabulates those two claims into one. Unprofessional, personal vendetta by a district attorney combines with illegitimate prosecution. But it is very, very hard to argue that Polanski should never be in front of a court for what he definitely did, things that even he admits he did (having sex with a minor, fleeing prosecution) even if the pursuit of Polanski is inconsistent with the norm of law enforcement officials. It's exactly the same as the situation that Polanski claims was rising against him in the California courts. The cry of inconsistency causes us to be inconsistent in our own pursuit of the truth.

This piece of news has a lot of elements in it but like most interesting things, the most interesting part is that no one really knows what happened and everyone has an opinion. Was it, as Whoopi Goldberg put it -- not "rape-rape", a forced act -- but the artistic "rape" in the original Latin meaning of the verb rapio, rapere: an older man "takes" a young girl and ushers her, willingly, into womanhood? If so, why the drugs, the alcohol? Statutory rape may have an inconsistent treatment in human jurisprudence (as George Jonas puts it, a seasonal crime, not absolute but relative to the norms of the society; and though his argument that law enforcement resources would be better spent hunting bin Laden than Polanski is practically sound, if you could get one but not the other, would you let the lesser criminal get away?) but it exists for a very consistent reason: irrespective of religion or philosophical stance, across the board, humans agree that children should be protected.

My 2 cents is that, irrespective of the spectre of judicial misconduct, a DA and jurisdiction with an axe to grind, overreach, plea confessions based on expediency or whether this was actually consensual sex between a 45 year old and a 13 year old, what I haven't heard anyone dispute is that 1) he had sex with a 13 year old girl, 2) he gave alcohol to a 13 year old girl, 3) while not illegal in Mexico, that is illegal in the state of California 4) he was in California at the time 5) while in California, he tacitly agreed to live subject to the laws of that jurisdiction 6) he plead guilty to having sex with a minor, 7) he fled the country after having been required to stand before a court.

Where are the voices saying that irrespective of all the things uncertain and wrong with the case that this man should see the inside of a courtroom before he dies? Where are the voices to say that U.S. federal marshals should pursue everyone who flees justice, not just famous ones? Where are the voices saying that, in societies tied together by laws, we get at the truth, not on the blogosphere, or the punditsphere, or the cinema, but in our courts of law? Isn't that why we have courts? Because we have faith that the truth will win out? Am I being horribly naive? Are the people that are so adamant in their indignation at this turn of events so disillusioned with the Western legal system that they would all flee justice if given the opportunity? I really didn't know it was that bad.

My problem with the Polanski defenders is that they seem to be arguing, not the few facts at hand, but rather that only two wrongs can make this situation right. It is wrong for the law to pursue certain criminals - famous criminals - with more verve, enthusiasm, commitment and tenacity than others...And because this inconsistency is wrong, the law shouldn't pursue Polanski at all. Even though he's broken the law. Even though he's plead to that effect. Even though he's fled from justice. They argue that the law should be more consistent in its inconsistency. Wouldn't it make more sense to demand that they pursue everyone as vigorously? Even if the man didn't do the things he admits to, how can anyone deny that he should, at the very least, stand for fleeing justice?

And not to beat a dead horse but, if he did do these questionable things, in the most awful way that they could have been done, and doesn't have to stand for them -- why should I feel compelled to go to court on an exponentially lesser crime, say, a traffic violation? He gets a pass for flying from prosecution because he raped a minor but a cop needs to make his quota so I have to lose out on a day's worth of work? Where's the consistency? :-)

- K

p.s. They say, two wrongs don't make a right...

Justice delayed is...................not such a big deal