Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Christ-like (page 2 of 2)

Elysium (2013)

Elysium Movie Review - jasoncstanley.comMatt Damon is Max, a man who is trying to get his life back to together and has hopes of a better life on Elysium. Turns out that in 2154, the Earth is a grime place, while the exclusive 1% live on a space station called Elysium. There they have the best of the best. Resorts. Fine dining. Beautiful landscapes. And most of all, health care.

Elysium is from the creative mind of Neill Blomkamp, who brought us District 9. Blomkamp is no stranger to using his films for social commentary. And I’m going to put this out there, but the film seems to be paying some kind of homage to Mad Max.

The Earth scenes are limited to a ghetto of Los Angeles, that is mostly a Latino neighborhood. Max grew up here, looking to the skies, hoping to become a citizen of Elysium. A nun gives him a locket with a picture of the Earth, and tells him that the view of them is more beautiful. After doing time for being a car thief, Max has gotten himself a factory job. Someone has to develop the robots that police the streets.

It’s not the best job. His boss is a jerk, and its dangerous. Max ends up being exposed to radiation, and being told he only has five days left to live. The pills he has been given will only slow it down.

In the meantime, Jodie Foster is the defense secretary who makes it her mission to protect the freedoms of the 1%, even killing immigrants from Earth who try to cross over into Elysium. She is coming under some heavy heat from the President, and plans a coup with the CEO of the company that Max works with (William Fichtner). The CEO will develop a computer program that will enable anyone else to be President.

Back on Earth, Max makes a deal with Spider that he will download information from the CEO in exchange for a ticket to Elysium. They have no idea that the CEO has downloaded the program he has created into his own brain and is on his way to deliver it to the defense secretary. The best scene in the film is possibly the one where Max and his buddies shoot down the CEO’s private jet and attempt to steal the data.

Most of the group is killed off, but Max survives. He hides out at the home of an old childhood friend who happens to be a nurse (Alice Braga). Her daughter is dying from leukemia and could use the healthcare of Elysium.

Eventually, Max allows himself to die to give Spider time to install the computer program that Max downloaded. Max’s sacrifice means that all people on Earth are now citizens of Elysium. Including his friend’s dying daughter, who longer is dying.

Max becomes Christ-like. After searching for his own fulfillment, he comes to the realization that his death (something he knows is coming) will benefit the many. Max’s actions are a vast contrast from the defense secretary’s. Perhaps Blomkamp is saying that the privilege of the 1% is at the cost to the 99%. Perhaps he is saying that universal healthcare is needed. That it is unacceptable for a child to die from leukemia when there is a way to heal her.

Elysium by definition is a place or condition of ideal happiness. The power is that elysium is too often an exclusive thing. Even in Jesus’ day, happiness was limited to a select few. The powers that be kept the weaker, poorer in their places. The wealth of the 1% was gained on the back of the 99%. Jesus broke into this system with a message and with a life that was counter to all that.

Love was for all. Justice was for all. Peace is for all. There are no outsiders. In Blomkamp’s tale, citizenship is for all. Healthcare is for all. There are no outsiders. It is an important message. We are all the same. We are all in this together. We are all citizens of the same Kingdom.

Scandal 1.2: “Dirty Little Secrets”

Season 1This episode’s client-of-the-week is DC’s finest madam. DC police want to their names on her little black book. Olivia and her gladiators are charged with protecting the list, once they find it. And once they find it, they realize that the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court is on that list.

Meanwhile, a mysterious, unknown reporter comes by to see Amanda Tanner. Quinn (Katie Lowes), who is still figuring out what it means to be a gladiator, keeps him out of her room. Amanda is still unsure if she can trust Olivia or that she wants Olivia’s help. By the end of the episode, Quinn convinces her that its a good idea.

“If its serious, get Olivia on it.” -Mellie

While Cyrus is now fully aware that Olivia and the President had an affair at one point, we don’t know that anyone else does. So, we feel the awkwardness when the First Lady, Mellie (Bellamy Young), says that they should “get Olivia on it” to fix the Supreme Court nominations. The Judge says that he has never paid for sex. Olivia believes him and commissions the gladiators to find the truth.

It turns out that the Judge’s name is on the list because one evening he met one of the Madam’s girls by accident. She was stood up and he happened to buy her a drink. They fell in love and got married, not having sex until their wedding night.  His wife continued to work for the Madam and paid for her husband to get through law school.

But, she never told her husband what she was doing. He had no idea. Olivia talks the wife into telling the Judge the truth. She does so, but at the risk of losing the nominations.

Moved by compassion that a good man and a good Judge was losing a seat on the Supreme Court because of someone else’s mistakes, Olivia calls all the Johns together. These are all men of great political power. And Olivia fixes it. There is no longer a scandal preventing the Judge from the nomination. The Johns all recommend him for the Supreme Court.

What is fascinating about a show like Scandal is how it illuminates human nature. Without apology, it shows the imperfections of humanity. But at the same time, in the midst of imperfection and brokenness, we catch glimpses of perfection. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had a simple approach to moral and ethical issues: our faith is active in love. At this point in the series, there is no evidence of any of the characters having a faith, however, Olivia functions in love. A deep love for humanity and for others. A Christ-like love. Olivia is not perfect, and she would be the first to tell you that. But she in the midst of that, she can show love to others.

Maybe it was from guilt, that by revealing the truth she ruined a man’s life. Or maybe it was because she saw something in that man and who he was meant to be that others could not. Maybe it was a combination of both. Either way, Olivia acted with love and compassion for fellow humanity.

Or maybe its because Olivia knows that to be human is have dirty, little secrets. Even if you are Olivia Pope.

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