Sunday, April 22, 2007

Eni Meeni Minee Mo, Catch a Terrorist by His Toe

This article is a gut-reaction to this report on as well as in several leading newspapers of India.

Childhood has lost its beauty. Propaganda and religious extremism seem to have overshadowed the innocence that is childhood. The incident in Pakistan where a presumably 12-year old boy is shown beheading a man accused of being an American spy is proof that politics is taking its toll on our future. Be it the Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the LTTE or even the Naxalites, all of them are out to secure their future by poisoning ours.

Over the years, parents have wanted their children to think like them. Not just parents, any and all propagandists expect the children of their land to inherit their cause. And that is where the line between childhood and rationality becomes blurred.

Although this incident might seem a one-off episode, it brings to fore the underlying hatred which is passed down to all children. Aren't students in Iran made to say "Death to America!"? Don't Indian parents tell their children that Pakistan is a 'stupid' country, and vice-versa. Doesn't an American mother tell her daughter not to play with her friend who wears a veil (burqa)? where do little British kids learn to call their neighbours "bloody Pakis"?

Childhood is synonymous with exploitation. The reason is simple; at such a young age, children will believe anything. Tell a lie a hundred times, and it sounds like the truth. Tell them that jihad is the greatest act of all, and they will do it. They will yearn to do the same mistakes that their elders have done, because they do not know it's a mistake.

What can we do? For starters, act like adults! Agreed we have seen and experienced much of the plight this world has to offer, but there is also beauty in this world. The beauty is childhood: the age of ignorance! Hatred and spite come and go, they are reflective of the times and seasons. But a young, free mind once poisoned, is lost forever.Let children be children, do not bring them into your cause. Do not treat them as though they are your soldiers or slaves, for they will not be of any help at all.

Next, I would suggest censoring violent content. I can already here the soldiers of freedom and democracy ringing the war-cries against me, but the truth is that if somebody doesn't stop showing kids the wrong way to live, then that's exactly how they are going to. But still, I am fully aware that as long as there is money in Hollywood (and even Bollywood), violence, blood and vulgarity will reign supreme. Hence, it is primarily up to parents and the whole community in general to shield their children from disinformation, while not restricting their basic rights. Of course, this form of protection will have to be dynamic and adjust to the age and surroundings of the child.

Lastly, don't keep telling your children that life isn't a bed of roses, because its not a bed of thorns either. Let the discover the trials and tribulations life has offer, as well as the joys and beauty in it. The world isn't so beautiful, but it doesn't have to be ugly.

Universalism, broad-mindedness and a love for simple joys is what every child wants and needs. An inheritance of spite and scorn will only create more like Cho Seung-Hui. Children can make or break our future, and the key to deciding it lies in how we bring them up.

So let kids retain their simplistic nature. Let them learn the ABCs of life, not the TERRORs!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Movie Review: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Unlike others, this was one movie that I actually saw twice (and counting), and I really liked it. So, you'll probably find mostly compliments on this post. I saw this movie both times on STAR Movies.

Not an Unfortunate Movie
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Credits: Won 4 Academy Awards and 21 other nominations
Starring: Jim Carrey (as Count Olaf), Liam Aiken (as Klaus), Emily Browning (as Violet), Kara and Shelby Hoffman (as Sunny), Jude Law (as the voice of Lemony Snicket) and others
Directror: Brad Silberling
Rating: ***** of 5 (Excellent)
For more, visit this site, or see the Official Website.

Few movies have the distinction of being humorous and depressing all at once. And this on surely takes the cake!
The movie is centred on the Baudelaire children - the eldest daughter, Violet (a gifted inventor), the middle son, Klaus (an avid reader) and baby Sunny (a personified beaver!) – and the many unfortunate events they have to face, starting with losing their parents to a fire, and being sent to live with their ‘closest’ relative, Count Olaf, who wishes to kill the children so as to inherit their fortune (which is frozen in the bank till 14-year-old Violet turns 18).
The movie starts off in the most imaginative way possible: with a happy ‘littlest’ Elf. But we are soon brought back into reality, when Lemony Snicket reminds us that the ‘Littlest Elf’ was showing in Theatre Number 2, not here.
And so as the children settle down in Count Olaf’s house (or rather the dust in his house), they are forced to perform difficult and cruel chores, while the Count strolls along with his avant-garde. Here, we see a burst of emotion from the young Klaus, which truly forces us to cast our minds back and see how important a warm home can be.
Then the truly unfortunate events start.
Count Olaf locks the children in his car, so that they may be run over by a train. This however, fails, owing to the theoretical expertise of Klaus, and the practical brilliance of Violet. Coincidentally, Mr. Poe, the estate agent in-charge of the children’s well-being, shows up, and takes the children away from the Count, on account of his allowing young Violet to drive a car (much to the dismay of the children, who insist that he was attempting to have them run over by a train).
And so the orphans are taken to yet another relative, Uncle Montgomery, an expert on snakes. Sadly, just as they begin to bond with their Uncle, cleverly-disguised Count Olaf murders him, and evades getting caught.
So now it’s off to the home of their Aunt Jo, a cowardly woman, in search of love, and a new house that does not rest precariously on the edge of a cliff. Sadly, following the unfortunate events of a storm and being attacked by lachrymose leeches, they end up back with Count Olaf, who now wishes to marry Violet to inherit their fortune as per nuptial law.
The rest, as they say, is history. Klaus ultimately discovers the secret behind their parents’ death; Count Olaf is arrested (only to be freed later, though not before he is subject to the same series of unfortunate events the children were exposed to); and the Baudelaire orphans enter the mystery that is their future.
The movie was splendid, with its unique blend of gloom and subtle comedy (mostly from the unformed words of Sunny). The only reason it failed the ultimate prize of an S (Superb) is that it lacked any action and adrenalin-pumping drama, though there was a murder involved.
All-in-all, this movie carries a beautiful message, and I suggest you to watch it. And I’m not just saying that. After all, as knowledgeable Klaus observed, everything happens for a reason.