• Chris Banks

Choices, choices..

Tenet is having me think a lot about our choices we make as humans, alive, on this planet. The older I get the more disappointed I am with what I see around me. It’s because of choices. A film like Tenet, I think, makes us all see that every one of our choices effect every subsequent decision. IE, our reality. What gets me super disappointed about what I see around me the older I get is the degradation of civility, decency, sacrifice, selflessness, knowledge, service and debate. It scares me. Deeply. Our nation was founded and has endured because of the intellect, hunger, drive, love and character of us, Americans. What I’m seeing today is the opposite of all of that. Immigrants of the 19th 20th and early 21st century, the first thing they did was name their children ‘American’ names, and learn English. Today, I’m seeing immigrants not even try, because everyday Americans disrespect immigrants AND natives. It’s disgusting. It’s entirely counter to who we are as Americans to be treating our neighbors with less respect than we expect ourselves. This has nothing to do with political party. What scares me more is the loss of family and community. Again, not party. I see if first hand in my own family, and in what used to be my own community. It affects so many things, systems, society, and lives. People have a hard time thinking critically. Today it’s because of our broken politics the internet and willing refusal to adhere to the facts.

That’s a problem for democracy.

That’s a problem for a free and open society. That’s a problem for health-

It’s a problem because it isn’t who we are. It’s not who Americans have ever been. So why are choosing to be so small now? Why are we choosing to be so selfish now? Why aren’t we seeing the truth? Why are we so angry? I think I know why. Everyone’s life is hard. I mean, if you aren’t a celebrity or have inherited your wealth. Couch cough Mr President. But even celebrities lives are hard. Can YOU imagine to constantly keep up with ever increasing and changing demands? Because that’s what happens when your life is not private. Everyday Americans love their privacy. Everyday Americans see a false promise in wanting that fame or monetary success. That’s not something to want. Even though it’s natural to want it, especially in this country. A smile, a thank you, reciprocated respect, a desire to ... again, a compliment, a good review, a person who knows more now than they did before you opened your mouth-this is what you want. This is what our collective compass needs to be set to. Not material wealth, abstractically understood. People are completely and utterly lost. Drowning, in not only a sea of information but also a sea of despair. We close ourselves off. It’s caused by being so confused, so conflicted. We can’t be conflicted as humans, we show it. We show signs of our spirit being in conflict with what our bodies are doing. Depression, chemical abuse (booze, drugs, pills), behavioral issues. This is how we wear our confliction. You’ll never be in synch or in harmony by following noise, or the crowd or by creating more noise. You won’t be in so much conflict with yourself once you start knowing yourself, listening to yourself, allowing yourself the space to hear what the world, what life is telling you. Life is always talking to us. Most of us are too busy listening to ourselves than listening to this vibration. Once you start doing what you are telling yourself you want to do, you won’t be in so much conflict with yourself. You’ll be happier. You’ll feel lighter. And hey, our country won’t be so insanely all over the place! Powerful forces are aware of this. They are preying on your confusion, on your laziness, on your past. We can’t even go to the corner store without being in fear, in some way, about something. That’s horeshit. That’s not America. That’s what WE have done to her. That IS America for far too many of our black and brown brothers and sisters. That’s why you see so many protests, for so many generations. It’s time we start using more critical thought and making better decisions for our lives. This isn’t politics. It’s the only way our country will get any better. The internet, wealth gaps and corporate bailouts have sent a mental shockwave through most Americans. It’s time we allow that to subside to better be able to focus on what needs to be done now, not just to satisfy my own desires, but to help the country.

Inversely, we must focus on what needs to be done within ourselves-rather then project it out, onto the country. This is not politics. Politics is not a place to deal with or attempt to heal pain. You will just get more hurt when you engage in a political space. So until you’re healed, tread carefully with politics.

The film industry has a particular role to play in the healing of America. The healing of our collective. Because that’s what the film industry does best. The film industry saved my life. When i was 13, i wasn’t headed down a particularly productive path. That’s also the year I met my friends that i still call my friends today. I was new to their school. We went to the movies every week. We saw everything. Even movies we didn’t want to see. Why? Because we were together. We weren’t on the street. We weren’t doing anything but drinking soda laughing or crying or yelling or just in awe of whatever story we were digesting that day. We would talk endlessly about them afterward. I miss this a lot. An entire segment of our culture is missing. It’s dead. People are staying inside their houses, either too afraid of what awaits outside those walls or making less of everyone outside of them. We have an inflated sense of self. I’m not sure where it comes from either, I think it’s just because we are Americans and see Wealth we see excess so we naturally want that. It’s just unnatural for everyone to obtain it. It won’t happen. Entire generations of Americans have been and are still being born with material success as meaning the same things as spiritual success, cultural success, or familial success. Instead of making riches our objective, focus on loving what you are doing, on purpose, on connection, hard work and doing things for other people. This is how we pull ourselves out from ourselves max into the world we inhabit. We need to heal as Americans. It’s critical. It’s necessary. That means a return to the theatre. Because we are at our happiest when we are immersed in another world. Human beings are creatures of story. We are made to tell them and to hear them. They are as deeply embedded in our DNA as the color of our eye given to us by one of our parents. Hollywood must wake up to this, and reprioritize. We need films that MUST be made. We need films that challenge people. That illuminate for people. That reach people, to teach people-we need to make a connection. For too long Hollywood has been ignoring that component of art and story telling. I get it though, we have to survive. We have to make money. But now as we find ourselves in the ashes and rubble of what was, can’t now be a time of rejuvenated commitment to the idea that certain films just have to be made. Isn’t that the true reason for a company like Miramax to succeed? They made great movies! Entirely detached from the evil of the man who started and ran it. But the objective must remain. If you read a script that makes you react and makes you want to see the film, it has to be made. And stop letting these smaller studios eat up these movies. Studies like A24 are what I’m talking about. Focused on rich, good and important stories. Ones that HAVE to be made. Hollywood has gotten complacent with super heroes. Americans have caught on and have stopped spending their hard earn dollars where they don’t feel appreciated, listened to. Americans don’t see themselves in the films that are being made outside of the super hero comic book realm. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to be made, it means that the connection with the audience needs to be prioritized. Stories must be better. Truer. From us. We will not survive without it. America will not survive. We must heal as a people, as a nation-from the horrors and scars the last few years have left upon all of our skin. Our American skin. It’s deeper than our race skin. It’s in our blood. Our hearts. We know better than this, we know better than just about everything that has been going on since we decided to roll the dice on a celebrity con man. Now we must never allow ourselves to become complacent again, to make sure we never again give a con man a wide open lane to drive our collective car right off the bridge. Because it’s entertaining to him. It’s hurt tremendously. Because everyone is now hurt. But I hope that the depth of the pain makes us all deeply wake up, account for the civic shortcomings we posses and work to be more knowledge, thoughtful, and to work for something outside of myself. I always remember Mr. John Lewis. I always will. You don’t have to be a member of Congress, or get arrested to be a proactive American citizen. All you have to do is vote. I hope I can lend a hand in the rejuvenation of the American theatre, the renaissance of community-and a brighter American future, for all.

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