The telephone, the H-bomb, and some thoughts on Murderball
While I wrote a few days ago about possibly losing my internet access this week, the observant reader will notice that I am still online. I managed to work something out with my departing roommate to keep the cable on until the end of the month. My second departing roommate, on the other hand, who was responsible for the phone bill, neglected to follow through on a similar request, and so I am without a telephone until next week. Anyone wanting to talk will have to come to my house, or resort to the carrier pigeon network I set up earlier this year. To all those who mocked me, who's the idiot now, jerks?
(I know that this item doesn't concern the majority of you reading, but it did give me the chance to post those great Nextwave panels).
I finally got to read the second volume in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, and while I was hoping to pick up the third book from Mr. O’Malley himself later this week at the Toronto Comicon, the release appears to have been delayed until the end of May, so I’ll comment more once I’ve read that installment. To save you the suspense, the rest of the world is right on this one, the books are very good and you should pick them up. Everyone I’ve loaned them to has enjoyed them as well. In the meantime, here's one of my favourite pages from the one I just read:
*By "sometimes" I mean just this one time, right here.
We watched the documentary Murderball a couple of weeks ago, and while it’s not as good as the rave reviews suggest, it is worth a couple of hours of your time. The movie follows the U.S. national wheelchair rugby team through a few tournaments, and explores the players’ lives in the process. Despite being named after the sport’s nickname, the movie features surprisingly little game footage, somewhere around nine minutes in total. Moreover, the footage that the filmmakers include is cut so rapidly that one never gets a sense of the game, leaving the impression that the game may not be especially exciting to watch.
However, the lack of gameplay scenes comes out of the fact that the movie isn’t so much about the sport as about the effect the sport has on the lives of the players. The team members are all quadriplegics, and they describe the difficulties of first two years after losing full physical functioning. They all indicate that the sport restored a sense of efficacy to their lives. The sound bite from the film that stands out is, “I’ve done more in a chair than I ever did out of one.”
The movie’s focus, in large part, is in showing how effective these men are, and in effect, how masculine. The filmmakers strive to show that the players lead normal lives, and their definition of normality is tied into their definition of masculinity. The movie’s concern with masculinity manifests in numerous discussions of the players’ sex lives, scenes of male bonding, and with a focus on the film’s poster boy (literally) Mark Zupan, with his shaved head, beard, and tattoos. Most tellingly, in the end of movie montage, the captions let us know what all the players are up to now, and almost every one has to do with them finding a girl. In the filmmakers' eyes, getting married and settling down is the final evidence that these men fit in. The issues behind such a viewpoint extend beyond the movie, and I won't go into them here, but I do note that the attempts to portray the players as rebels contradict the filmmakers' desire to slot them into normal social roles.
The most interesting aspect of the movie, for me, was the treatment of Joe Soares, a former
What I found interesting about the deliberate villainizing of Soares wasn’t the obviousness, or the fact that it was done, but that I may not have spotted it if he had gone to coach a team other than
Watching this movie was a new experience because I was so clearly not the intended audience, but only by a chance of geography. In the climactic showdown, (highlight for SPOILERS) when the
* "I didn't have any idea about how I was going to be portrayed," says Igoe, speaking as the guy who put his pal in a wheelchair at 18. "Because of that, I was very, very, very reluctant to be involved in any of it. I obviously assume the worst, because I'm obviously very protective of what could have happened. This is something that's extremely intimate, one of the worst things in my life. But I didn't know who Joe was at this point. I didn't know that they had this other… antagonist, or someone else who could be the antagonist in this thing, so, when that was explained to me, I felt much better about being in it." (source: The Austin Chronicle)