Favorite Science Fiction Films: 7: The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

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(https://en.wikipedia.org/)

The 1956 film The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a seminal piece of cinema.  This movie combined the theme of alien invaders with that of xenophobia and the fear of communists infiltrating American society. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter starred in the film, and directed by Don Siegel, in an Allied Artists film. The film was based on a novel by  Jack Finney called The Body Snatchers.

This black and white movie is atmospheric and establishes quickly a tone of distrust and disquiet, by creating a world in which normalcy seems just out of place. This questioning of normalcy, especially in  the context of 1950s America, in which conformity was seen as a virtue, is a strength of the movie. In post World War Two America, many people lived in a segregated world, divided by race, class, and religion.  Also, the United States was suffering through the hearings run by Senator Joe McCarthy, which were a modern version of witch hunts. The level of paranoia that was permeating American society is reflected in this film. Additionally, the possible effects of scientific research on humanity as well as the omnipresent nuclear threat also inform the tone of this film.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Certainly, there were people who opposed the insanity of the time, people such as the writers Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, and the journalist Edgar R. Murrow, but I will discuss their courage in another post in the future.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers has grown in popularity and has become recognized as one of the most important science fiction films of the 1950s, if not in American cinema as a whole. The idea of the loss of humanity behind the façade of a person’s face gives rise to the current explosion of zombie movies. This movie also gave America the term that would live in our consciousness of “pod people.” It is a brilliant movie, and one that I suggest that you see if you have not.

Quotations On Democracy For The 4th of July

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“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

                                                                                      Isaac Asimov

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

                                                                    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

                                                                   Abraham Lincoln

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“Our democratic country must maintain the separation of Church and State and move towards elimination of bigotry of all kinds.  If we regress towards a far right view of the world, then the result will be the loss of that democracy and of our freedom. In the name of those who fought and died for our freedom, let us maintain American democracy.”

                                                                    Charles F. French

Disaster of Roe V. Wade

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I just returned from a small weekend excursion and learned of the news of the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Those who follow this blog know that I try not to comment on politics on this site; I attempt to keep it a place for writing and art. There are times, however, when I cannot be silent here.

In a country in which the overwhelming majority of Americans support the right of women to have control over their bodies, the Supreme Court struck a blow for the religious views of the far right, and they seem to have forgotten the concept of the separation of Church and State. This is an extreme action taken by an extreme component of the American society, and it frightens me because it is a movement that could end with the country being controlled by a religious minority. Perhaps, I am seeing the worst possible conclusion, but the history of the world shows movements towards tyranny if not otherwise opposed.

I am also dismayed to think about the people in this country who voted for a fringe left wing candidate instead of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Had they voted practically, Roe V Wade would still be the established law of the land, and the Supreme Court would be a different makeup.

If Americans who support Women’s rights and are also in support of true gun control act in the next election, these mistakes can be rectified. But it will take a focused action, and a decision by Americans to support what the MAJORITY of Americans support.

Again, I am disgusted and dismayed by the Supreme Court. Please remember what happened during the next election, and let’s move the country back to a reasonable place away from the far right and potential fascism.

A Few Quotations On Courage

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Twain1909

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

                                                                                  Mark Twain

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

                                                                                   Nelson Mandela

 

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. . . we must do that which we think we cannot.”  

                                                                           Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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“We must always have the courage to oppose tyranny, bigotry, and ignorance. We must speak out, use the power of our voices, and we must vote!”

                                                                          Charles F. French

Quotations On Gun Control

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“One only wishes Wayne LaPierre and his NRA board of directors could be drafted to some of these scenes, where they would be required to put on booties and rubber gloves and help clean up the blood, the brains, and the chunks of intestine still containing the poor wads of half-digested food that were some innocent bystander’s last meal.”

                                                                       Stephen King “Guns”

“When a country with less than five percent of the world’s population has nearly half of the world’s privately owned guns and makes up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings, it’s time to stop saying guns make us safer.”

                                                                       DaShanne Stokes

“I only wish the NRA and its jellyfish, well-paid supporters in legislatures both State and Federal would be careful to recite the whole of it, and then tell us how a heavily armed man, woman, or child, recruited by no official, led by no official, given no goals by any official, motivated or restrained only by his or her personality and perceptions of what is going on, can be considered a member of a well-regulated militia.”

                                                                       Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

“It is time to start referring to those members of Congress who oppose gun control as what they are–Pro Death of Children and Innocents. They are the toadies of the NRA and the gun lobby, and they must be voted out of office. The time to act is now.”

                                                                       Charles F. French

When Will The Madness End?

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Those who read this blog know that I try very hard to stay away from politics in it. This is not because I do not have very strongly held political beliefs, because I do; rather, it is because I wanted to focus this site on writing, reading, and other kinds of art.

Sometimes though, I cannot and will not remain silent. Today, there was another horrific school shooting at an elementary school, with, at last count, at least 18 dead. My level of shock and horror is almost impossible to fathom.

My disgust is also massive with the people who refuse to enact basic gun control legislation. We are the only nation in the world suffering from these all too regular shootings, and the so-called basis of the gun rights groups is that of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Well, as a college professor and teacher of English, I suggest that anyone who takes  that position return to school for a refresher  in grammar, including what a dependent clause is and its function.

Beyond that, where is the humanity of anyone–ANYONE–who would place the ownership of guns over the lives of children, of elementary children? A piece of machinery that is built with one purpose, and that is to kill, should never be more important than lives. And please spare the old, tired refrain of “guns don’t kill people.” That is not only inane, but it is also socially insane. Yes, guns kill people. A pen is created to write, a screwdriver to work on construction, a camera to take photos, and yes, people, guns are created to kill–to kill.

Please, spare the “thoughts and prayers” pablum that does nothing except soothe the consciences of those who do the bidding of the gun makers and the gun lobbyists. For the sake of those killed and those left behind, I implore the Senate to act.

Let’s finally pass some basic gun-control and background check legislation. If you would argue that it doesn’t work, then I do not know what else to say to you, except that the next time a child is killed in a shooting like this one, the next time parents have to suffer the horror of knowing their child was sacrificed on the alter of doing nothing about gun violence, ask yourself how you can look in the mirror?

Quotations On Opposing Evil

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“He who does not oppose evil……commands it to be done.”

                                                                         Leonardo Da Vinci

NPG 655; Edmund Burke studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds

studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds, oil on canvas, (1767-1769)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

                                                                      Edmund Burke

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

                                                                 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“The oppression of people anywhere is an injustice to all of humanity, and it must be opposed. We need to speak out and have our voices be heard. This is not a time for silence.”

                                                                    Charles F. French

Russia Invades Ukraine: An Act of War By A Dictatorship

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I try very hard to stay away from politics in my blog. I attempt to deal with writing and creativity, but some events demand that writers speak out.

Russia, led by Putin, has invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation and is conducting war against that country. Additionally, some in the U.S.A. are actively supporting Putin, and that is horrifying. How can an American support the actions of a Fascist dictator against another country? Have we forgotten the Soviet Union, and have we ceased to remember the actions of Hitler?

I am not calling for America to go to war, but everything that can be done to stop and/or punish Russia for this craven attack on Ukraine must be done. Americans need to cease using this as a political football to attack the other party–that is unconscionable and utterly devoid of morality.

I fear for the lives on innocent people in Ukraine, and I am sure there are already many dead or wounded. Let us always remember that in the words of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” The people of Ukraine do not deserve what is happening, and we must all speak out, including against Americans who support this abomination.

The Sleep Of Reason Breeds Monsters, and It Can Do That In The United States of America

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(Francisco Goya ~1799)

This image is one of Francisco Goya’s most well known and important. It has been debated if its meaning lies in the personal for Goya or on commentary on society. We can never be sure of what the artist intended.

It is possible, however, to see how when people abandon reason and analysis, that horror follows. Fascism arose in the 20th Century as people in Germany, Austria, and Italy primarily abandoned reason to follow the emotional cults of personality that would lead to the worst evil the world has ever known.

In the United States, which has a terrible history of bigotry, nationalism, and violence, driven by right wing forces that abandon reason and, using tactics of Hitler, such as blaming others through scapegoating and pull people to their worst impulses and the use of the big lie, in which an untruth is repeated loudly and often, we must recognize that such evil is here.

The United States, on January 6th, experienced an attack that was directly against the sovereignty of the country, against freedom, and against democracy. This was the worst attack against the foundation of our nation since the Civil War. This was not a riot gone terribly wrong; this was a planned insurrection, an attempt to overthrow the government of our nation, and those responsible should be held to account for their actions. The insurrectionists responded to a President who used Hitlerian tactics of the big lie about the “stolen election”, which was fair and secure and not stolen, and scapegoating members of Congress as the enemy rather than members of a different political party. These actions were real, and they were horrific and abominable.

Americans, of any party, who believe in democracy must repudiate such beliefs. If as some suggest, we simply move past this insurrection, then we are agreeing once more, to abandon responsibility, analysis, and reason. The consequences of such ignoring of the enormity of what happened can be devastating to our nation and our democracy.

White power groups are an extension of the evil that Hitler manifested. Let there be no mistake about it. They represent bigotry and evil and dictatorship. And they are a direct threat to our freedom and democracy.

We must not fall into a national sleep of reason. We must stay awake, otherwise, the fate of this nation, of the United States of America, for which so many fought and died in many wars, will be at risk.

Martin Luther King Jr Day–2021

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(www.pixabay.com)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I would like to offer a few of this extraordinary American’s quotations as a tribute to him. He was one of the finest, most decent, and empathetic people in the history of the United States of America. We should all remember him and honor his teaching, his legacy, and his call for justice for everyone.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”