10.16.2004

Che & Change

One of the most intriguing facets of The Motorcycle Diaries is how often it's almost trivially distorted by the critics (and here, too). Some will downplay its obvious political stance as "nonpolitical," presumably because of their lack of enchantment with either Che's methods or philosophy which flies in the face of their otherwise inexplicable appreciation of the film. Others will mock the movie for its commerciality (i.e. not radical Che enough) despite, according to one source, the material coming directly from Che's diary at the time. And another class of critics will overplay the movie's value as "layered" or "subtle" presumably because it's about Che, which means we must gear into automatic movie-love.

(Why do we love or hate art because of its politics? Although art can convey political beliefs, politics is not art, so those who love or hate because of politics must have a rather low appreciation of art--not to mention an amazingly undaunted ability to flaunt their vaunting intolerance.)

How can I load these attributions into their critiques? Because the film is simple. It's a story of two young men who go on a trip up the continent of South America. It's charming and humorous. The two ride through patches of snow that Alberto calls just a little frost not to be worried about, and in the next scene they're forced to push the overloaded motorcycle through a foot of snow. They chase women and get chased by the men who are married to them. Broke, they con mechanics into fixing their motorcycles by posing as famous doctors traveling through the continent.

If not beating you over the head with its political ideology is "subtle," what a sad state our politics is in. And "layered?" With what? Frosting?

What it is is a film about how a man became another man--transformed by what he saw and experienced on the road to do a medical internship at a leper colony. This is how we experience change. We do experience change. And is there anything else worth talking about?

My film companion and I were quite pensive after the film on two matters. We discussed our own life changes--changes you don't see until you're looking back at who you were just a few years before. I'd received a phone call from a college friend who described the man I was and am so unfamiliar with now. The companion described his recent changes. We conjectured that those who are settled in their ways may not change, but how interesting could their life stories be if they don't change, aren't transformed by the world?

Of course, the other matter is slightly tangential but political in nature--yet both of our minds struck upon it independently: How is it that corporate greed drives after ever larger slices of the economy? Isn't it clear that they will drive the middle class into poverty, devaluing their own wealth and the country's? Isn't it clear the larger the middle class, the stronger the nation's economy, and the more wealth the rich can accumulate, albeit over a longer time frame?

I just don't understand how they are blind to this, crashing and burning companies for hasty gains. Nobody but the envious and power-hungry care that the rich get richer, but we all care what greed does to the welfare of a nation's peoples. If the rich won't try to curb get-rich-quick lust, they're just an election away from having their money voted away. Consider this proverb:

"He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want."

See other apropos thoughts on hasting to riches in 20:21, 28:20, 28:22. This public service announcement was brought to you by the concerned.

xxoo

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