Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maturity and Popular Culture

And isn't it a shame that the two have so little to do with each other?

Netflix has the TV series Beuty and the Beast available streaming.  I loved it when it aiired in the late 89s, and I've been rewatching it now.  I'm about halfway through the second season.  It is rather like meeting your first love again after years of being apart, at least at first.  You can see why you loved that person, but you've moved on.  But now I've fallen in love with it all over again, but I think for mostly new reasons.  When it first aired I suspect I loved it for the romance, a beautiful love between two people, one of them different, and an outsider - which is what I always felt like, having grown up fat and so not sexy or lovable in my mind, and never feeling it at home until finding communities of like-minded people after college.  But now I see the series in a new light.  I've always adored series that express maturity, but I've had a hard time explaining what I meant by it.  I'm just beginning to start defining it.

Mature series, to me, deal with the complexities of human life, human thought, and human feeling.  It shows people in difficult situations where there are no easy answers, where there is pain no matter what the resolution of the problem, if indeed the problem can be resolved.  It means to me facing up to the problems with courage, with an awareness of one's capacities and abilities, and with a mindfulness of other people and seeking the best solution for all.  Not simply mindfulness, but to attempt to understand what drives other people.  To face our responsibility for our actions and seek to alleviate the harm they may have done.  To protect those weaker than ourselves where possible, and to be just, where justice is holding other people accountable for their actions when necessary, but with compassion for what led them to that place in their lives.  To not seek conflict but to deal with it according to ethical principles, but again with compassion.  To live one's life the best one can, and where a succesful life means balancing the heart, mind, body, and soul.  And to know in the end that such materurity isn't easily achievable, but a goal to strive for.  That all fall short, but that the essence of life is the striving for something better that feeds the soul.

Where does Beauty and the Beast fit in?  It is a part of popular culture, whch is a thing that both shapes who we are and is in return shaped by who we are.  In our current popular culture I see little that models mature behavior.  Blowing things up vicariously is fun, but it isn't much on which to base a life.  Violence and vengeance as models create a culture of insanity.  Beer and booty create an immaturity that never ends.  Considering only what benefits one's self rather than the greater whole creates endless conflict as each seeks their own advancement at the expense of others.  In Beauty and the Beast I see instead modeled community, love for others even when it means sacrifice, compassion and justice balanced, the courage to be responsible for one's actions, and much more.  Sadly the third season of the show turned dark and away from these ideals, and I'm sorry for it and remember feeling bewildered by it at the time.  Like all else in life, it is imperfect.  But because it did strive for so long for something fine I will always love it.

Posted via email from reannon's posterous

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