I have been the victim of the parking enforcement officer’s efficiency a multitude of times. Everytime I think I’m going to be only 5 minutes it ends up being at least 12 and it seems that I never get away with it. This week I pulled up to Main Street Sliders and saw the person in front of me had their parking meter expired and saw the king of the meters walking down the street. I had two quarters but was only running in to pick up my food so I thought why not and put a quarter in both meters. I like to think I helped someone out and saved them from a day ruining ticket.
Shakespeare Behind Bars begins with the meeting of a rather large individual reading through some rather confusing lines. Through this his powerful passionate voice is revealed. It is only after he stops that the viewer becomes aware of the guard tower in the back, the matching clothes, and the enclosed fence. This one scene summarizes how the next two hours will go. We, as the viewer, are not awestruck by the play’s lines, nor the movie’s setting, but by the people themselves, though we do not know anything about them. It becomes clear that prison, to them, is just another place because their true cage comes from their internal struggle with past emotional and physical damage and their eternal struggle with life itself.
The movie seems to front the idea that its main theme is forgiveness, but in contrast I think it is about acceptance. Curt Tofteland discusses the reason why he chose the Tempest is because it is a story about forgiveness and that the inmates could relate to it. He mentions the inmates choose the characters that they feel fits right. Hal chooses the character Prospero because he feels it reflects his desire to forgive and be forgiven. We also meet Red who discusses how he forgave his father after meeting him so late in life (in prison). We then meet these characters again and they reveal more details about their lives. Hal murdered his pregnant wife and made it look like an accident for 10 years. He did so to cover his internal struggle with homosexuality. This to me is not a man seeking forgiveness. He does not mention making amends to his victim’s family or even apologizing to them, instead he focuses only on how his deed had alienated him from his parents. He blames his internal struggle of hate and blame on them too. It seems the only thing he desires is his parents back into his life and for them to accept what he had done and who he is. Red, too, mentions his father as a tough white man who he has never seen cry. He mentions how he is playing a female character because nobody else could do it as well as him. He then reveals in a slight comment that his bisexual once again proving the idea that the characters they play are meant to reflect acceptance of who they are not forgiveness for what they have done.
As last week I am posting again about the Anarchist Utopia of the Neo-Impressionist era. It is much like the mission of the characters in Fight Club. They want to throw the world into chaos and clear debt for everyone so that they can make a step towards an equal Utopia.
The Second Shepherd’s Play and Utopia are different in every sense of the word except, what seems to be, their key messages. The first interprets religious doctrine and appeals to a basic audience through a simple plot and easy transitions. The latter uses reason and theory to appeal to an intellectual audience to challenge the status quo. That being said they both have a basic concept, take only what is needed and give all of one’s surplus. Both pieces do so by commenting on land ownership, crime, and society in general.
Utopia discusses a land that couldn’t be better off. One of the main contributors to it is their laws about working, private property, and goods. In Utopia everyone is pretty much the same in ways of dress, home, and privilege. If one desires to be an intellectual they must apply for it and if they fail they are knocked back down the level of manual labor. One can’t complain because the undesirable work is given to slaves and everyone earns the same rights. The key to how this works though (in case of unforeseen famine or bad luck) is through the collection of harvest and materials and its fair distribution. All towns store two years of harvest and all excess is either distributed to unfortunate towns or sold. They are the same with goods and even sell it outside of Utopia for promissory notes because, “The Utopians think it hardly right to take what they don’t need away from people who do need it.”
The Second Shepherd’s Play has a similar themeof only taking what is needed. The main characters of the play begin their introductions complaining about their sadness. They discuss how they are wronged because they must answer to a lord who can take whatever they need or have at anytime because they “work” for him. Their work is further strained because the lord of the land does what he pleases to make a profit and “robs” his shepherds and keeps them poor. As the story unfolds Mak steals one of their sheep knowing well he would hang if he is caught. Even after he is found out he is given a second chance because he promises to not do it again and the Shepherds’ do not “need” his life. In doing so they are rewarded and are given the right to attend Christ’s birth.
Though political in nature this week’s writings depict more the human psyche and gives us insight on how people feel and react to conflict around them. It is interesting to peek into an era where ideals are being torn down and authority has been completely displaced. People don’t know what to think and instead decide to follow who they think is right. Cromwell and the other protestants united under one belief and a bandwagon formed in support. Charles stayed strong to his old beliefs and those that supported him also held that belief. Both sides had completely different viewpoints and the arguments that are used to justify certain actions are hidden behind bible scripture, this way instead of two equal arguments there is only one correct argument that has “infallible right”. In turn these decisions are not debated upon by reason but by the interpretation of the writers. The same is not true of the leaders of the conflict. Instead of determining what is right they act on what they determine is best and never look back.
You can see the strength of these leaders in the first reading, The Moderate No. 28 about the trial of King Charles which shows the stern strong king that everyone had grown to hate. He challenges them saying that they are false and the reality of a potential mistake creates a rift in the support Cromwell had. Cromwell responds by weaving out the weak ones and carries out the execution. Charles stays strong during the execution increasing doubt and creating a stronger rift. Though it seemed like a blasphemous mistake Cromwell still maintains control until the end of his life without incident. The reason is because no matter how strong of a mistake the people thought Cromwell was making, they knew he was still stronger and determined and a spiral of silence occurred. After Cromwell’s death the people decide that they made a mistake, imprison those they thought responsible and canonize a man they fought a war against.