Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tribal Nature vs Orwellian Reality

Dog Street Journal

Tom Shadyac visits the Kimball Theatre
Nov. 11, 2010 | By Morgan Barker , DSJ Style Editor

Tom Shadyac is a well know Hollywood director with films under his belt including: “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, “Liar Liar”, “The Nutty Professor”, and “Bruce Almighty”. He also wrote the screenplays for “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Nutty Professor”. Shadyac is known for his comic genius and jumpstarting Jim Carrey’s career, but recently his switched to a more serious tone.

Shadyac describes his turn to the serious as the result of a biking accident; this accident left him with post-concussion syndrome. Many people with post-concussion syndrome experience depression. Shadyac says he was ready for death but felt he had another story to tell. He asks, “What did I want to say before I died?” Enter “I am.”

“I am” is Shadyac’s first venture into the documentary film business, and I feel he has a hit. The documentary tells Shadyac’s story but changes course and begins to tell the story of what is wrong with the world. After Shadyac’s accident he identified himself as personifying many of the problems with the world. So he traded his mansion in Hollywood, private plane and massive film crew for a trailer and a four-man crew. He traveled all over to answer the questions “What’s wrong with our world?” and “What can we do about it?”

To answer these questions he visits spiritual leaders, scientists, poets, writers, and even his father (founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital). Shadyac finds that the main things wrong with the world are consumerism and competition. He interviews many people who say that Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest, ideas that we seem to be living by, is not a natural state for human beings. Instead, the natural state for humans to live in is a society that thrives on love and compassion. These aren’t particularly new ideas. They appear in the Sunday school lessons you attended as a child, the morals your parents and teachers taught you, and even in the lyrics of the Beatles, “All you need is love.” While we’ve heard these ideas, we rarely practice them in real life. The documentary sets out to remind us of these things and encourage us to practice them in life.

Shadyac gives an anecdote about a tribe that worked together in a cooperative society, each day the hunters went out and every night they returned with meat to feed the entire village, even the sick and elderly. One day a hunter declared himself to be the best and stated that it was unfair of him to have to share his meat with the town. So he went on top of a mountain and stored his meat and lived alone while others starved. Others gradually followed suit and eventually the society was consumed by greed. He finishes by pointing out that this tribe is us.

More about Tom Shadyac at

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