this week’s reflection (from class) actually has a tie-in with the oscars, namely the film michael clayton which we viewed in class last week.
week two reflection
The final scene of Michael Clayton shows Clayton flagging a taxi saying, “Give me $50 worth. Just drive.” As I watched him and his reactions to the previous scenes being played out in his mind (or I assume that is what was reeling in his mind), I thought about how therapeutic driving is. I pondered over what makes it so—why it was so beneficial for Clayton and how it often is the same for us. It involves a change of scenery, gaining a new perspective, being alone, relishing in the solitude. I am not sure I have seen this quest for solitude, for quietness, for peace depicted in similar fashion in a film. It seems that most popular films are wracked with intense action, where the characters never take a break…or never allude to doing so. This scene reminded me of time I spend in solitude to regain perspective, change my outlook, commune with God, and escape the noise that invades my life. A time that we all need, whether we are on the verge of our own breaking point, whether the intense action of our lives has come to a climax, or whether the silence of our lives is driving us to an unhealthy state.
The discussion after the film posed reflective insights—many of which I did not notice on my own—including connections that I failed to make on my own. It reminds me of why community is so vital. For me, this experience enabled me to see the bigger picture and life outside of my perceptions, my observations, and myself. The systematic evil of corporate greed that Arthur, and then Clayton, war against is manifest throughout the world surrounding us and has plagued corporations from Enron and its stockholders to local churches and their leaders. And just as we, as humanitarians in this world of which we are a part, must address these issues, so we, as Christians of the church who espouses to follow Christ, must address these issues, corporately in business, in economics, and in church. I appreciate that films such as Michael Clayton address such moral issues, challenging my response to corporate greed and my previous view (up until a few years ago) that film, as well as other elements of pop culture, stands in opposition to the morality of Christ. Increasingly, my eyes are being opened to the morality that exists within popular culture and how it actually illuminates the ways of Christ, rather than silencing it.
I have varied reactions to the talk and images of Alison Jackson. I actually found some of her images offensive, although I am not sure why. It seems it was the sexual and nude images that I had a hard time with…and I have been asking myself why. Although I know that it is natural to find some things offensive, I wonder the reason behind my reaction. Is it because I do not agree with these or what the images communicate? It is the result of being raised in a culture where the topic of sex and sexual images (and even those involving nudity) are taboo? I think being challenged by these photos and the questions they illicit come at an apropos time as I have begun to re-think my concept of sexuality—reading the Bible to see what God says about sex and how I should view it and even that of nudity.
I did, however, find Jackson’s work enlightening in the issues it raises to the viewer. Often as viewers, we readily accept images as truth, not often thinking they are more than what they seem. Just like Jackson said, her images remind you that “you cannot rely on your own perception…what you think is real is not necessarily real.” This experience bade me to be more skeptical of what I see, not drawing conclusions or perceptions from what I deem to be truth. Somewhere in my reading of late, I came across the question, “does the media create the story or does the story create the media?” which poses much opposition to the way in which I commonly view media. After thinking about this, especially in light of Jackson’s work, I would have to say that often the media does create the story. Any why? It is all just a moneymaking venture…or is some of it similar to Jackson’s plight to “make the viewer aware of their own voyeurism?”