In Short

[This first appeared at The Jagged Word on April 27.]

By the time you read this, I will be at the 19th annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Since I started attending with my brother, Jay, six or seven years ago, one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate is the short film program. This will be my second year as a short film programmer, but even before last year, I found that short films were among the more interesting and provocative films I saw. In fact, short films often make a film festival worthwhile, because you’re unlikely to see many of them anywhere else.

Sometimes shorts are made to secure funding for a feature film. Sometimes they’re made as a side-project to get a filmmaker’s name out there. Sometimes they’re made as a labor of love, simply because there’s a idea there. But short films don’t usually make any money. Except at film festivals, short films are rarely seen in theaters. You can find them more often now on streaming services, but they still are not nearly as prevalent as features.

You have to tell the story in a different way from a feature if you make a short film, similar to the difference between a novel and a short story. You don’t have the luxury of letting a narrative develop over 90 minutes. Very often, if the opening scene of a short doesn’t set the tone immediately, it’s not going to be successful.

Continue reading

More From Chesterton on “Birth Control”

[More from “Social Reform versus Birth Control” (see previous post):]

The fact is, I think, that I am in revolt against the conditions of industrial capitalism and the advocates of Birth Control are in revolt against the conditions of human life. What their spokesmen can possibly mean by saying that I wage a “class war against mothers” must remain a matter of speculation. If they mean that I do the unpardonable wrong to mothers of thinking they will wish to continue to be mothers, even in a society of greater economic justice and civic equality, then I think they are perfectly right. I doubt whether mothers could escape from motherhood into Socialism. But the advocates of Birth Control seem to want some of them to escape from it into capitalism. They seem to express a sympathy with those who prefer “the right to earn outside the home” or (in other words) the right to be a wage-slave and work under the orders of a total stranger because he happens to be a richer man. By what conceivable contortions of twisted thought this ever came to be considered a freer condition than that of companionship with the man she has herself freely accepted, I never could for the life of me make out. The only sense I can make of it is that the proletarian work, though obviously more senile and subordinate than the parental, is so far safer and more irresponsible because it is not parental. I can easily believe that there are some people who do prefer working in a factory to working in a family; for there are always some people who prefer slavery to freedom, and who especially prefer being governed to governing someone else. But I think their quarrel with motherhood is not like mine, a quarrel with inhuman conditions, but simply a quarrel with life. Given an attempt to escape from the nature of things, and I can well believe that it might lead at last to something like “the nursery school for our children staffed by other mothers and single women of expert training.” [“might”? T.]

I will add nothing to that ghastly picture, beyond speculating pleasantly about the world in which women cannot manage their own children but can manage each other’s. But I think it indicates an abyss between natural and unnatural arrangements which would have to be bridged before we approached what is supposed to be the subject of discussion.


I Could Be Wrong (But I Don’t Think I Am)

[bonus points if you recognize the artist from which I stole the title]

“No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error.” [and] “But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.” — G.K. Chesterton

The bulk of irrational haters who disagree with me tend to say things like “How can you be so arrogant as to think that you’re right and everyone else is wrong?”  The simple answer is: it seems natural to me to argue in favor of things I think are correct, and against things I think are wrong.  I don’t claim to speak for anyone else, but I would feel sort of stupid arguing in favor of things I thought were wrong.

Those who have drunk deeply from the wells of certain strands of post-modernism, however, seem to think it is an intellectual virtue never to come to any firm conclusions (except, of course, that those with firm conclusions can’t possibly be right).  They then attack the “arrogance” of those who, crazily!, argue on behalf of what they have come to believe is correct.

Another favorite technique of the haters is to claim that, while they are still on their “journeys,” embracing “doubt,” those who hold passionately to their convictions must have been indoctrinated from birth with those convictions, rather than come by them honestly.  It seems incredible to them that people might actually have thought about something enough to form a reasoned opinion on any given subject, especially religion.   Then, instead of arguing the point at hand, they resort to name-calling and purely ad hominem attacks, along with four-letter words such as “Pharisee,” “self-righteous,” “hypocritical,” “judgmental.”  It’s as if no one learns critical thinking anymore; the proof is in how few people can manage to get out a coherent sentence, complete with correctly spelled words and proper grammar, without falling back on smoke and mirrors.

The point is this: get over your sensitivity to people with whom you disagree and actually contribute to the argument.  Don’t try to figure out someone’s motivation, unless they explicitly state it, and simply respond calmly and intelligently.  Also, you might question, prior to hitting ‘submit,’ whether you’re reading something into a comment that is not there.  Really, it’s not that hard.


Yeah, About That…

You know that whole command of God thing?  That’s really not working for me.

Abstinence (“chastity” would be a better word) is only unrealistic for those who don’t practice it.

The teen said she wanted to tell her story so that other young people might think twice about having sex.

“I’d love to [be] an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because it’s not, like, a situation that you would want to strive for, I guess,” Bristol said.

You don’t want to be too hard on a teenager, but isn’t, like, “like,” out of fashion yet?  How does she plan to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy if she doesn’t think abstinence is realistic?  Because, really, who wants to, like, wear a condom?