Karma Drama

Karma Drama. That could be a definition of life itself, but today, for some reason, I just wanted to talk about some counter-intuitive tendencies in taste I find in myself and attempt to rationalize them.I just simply loved all 86 episodes of The Sopranos. I’m not a true fan, but tons of people love “Breaking Bad.” I find “Homeland” a bit repetitive but mega-compelling and somehow very real. Early this morning I once again laughed and cried myself silly re-watching the extremely violent black comedic feature “In Bruges,” a superbly directed film released a few years ago. And, let’s get this straight, I absolutely loathe violent for violence sake films, TV shows, novels, newspaper headlines, etc. I can think of nothing less savory and useful than slasher films. All the people involved in making them should be fucking well ashamed of themselves. There is nothing about constantly wallowing in oozing blood that is redemptive aesthetically.But I have a great love for what I somewhat pretentiously call “Shakespearian” violent drama. The difference lies in that old power-word - intention. I have never met anyone who is repulsed by Shakespeare’s massive use of violence in “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “Othello,” and so on. The reason for this is simple – the violent behavior in the tragedies is all about morality/karma. Greed, jealousy, lust, power-hunger, etc. – these are the vices that eventually end in untimely death for the usually royal protagonists. “Hamlet” has the added minor vice of self-pitiful confusion – “to be or not to be.”“In Bruges” is a hilarious perspective on bad karma. Ray, played by the brilliantly nuanced Colin Farrell, is a hit man and in assassinating a priest, accidentally kills a small boy. He is horribly consumed by guilt all the way through the film, so he is not depicted as a cold-eyed killer with no compassion. It is the absolute absurdity of his position in life that is the comedic and tragic atmosphere of the movie. Matters of good/evil, forgiveness, and redemption are the bloodstream of the picture.So, I believe that extreme human behavior in art can be totally justified if the overall vibe actually helps us get the nature of karma. What we see in the art (and Picasso’s “Guernica” mural fits this just as much as Tony Soprano) can often trigger a clarity about the way we are. The Rolling Stones seemed to be just blues-rock gangsters, directly contrasting with the Beautiful Beatles, but if you check out some of their greater but strangely lesser known songs, you will find startling tableaux of twentieth century horror like “Too Much Blood,” “Hand of Fate,” “Undercover” – the Stones were nasty-assed, true, but they managed to create terrific rock music out of the darkness they saw on the planet.All this to try and be both a dharmic kinda dude and a lover of “Casino,” “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,”...and the Stones, who I candidly always liked more than the Beatles. Ironically, I actually wrote the first sanctioned film biography about the Beatles, “The Compleat Beatles” (and I adored and still adore the four of them) but I was stirred down to my very viscera by Jagger/Richards’s vision.Bad can sometimes mean good when it comes to art. Not ‘bad art’ of course, but the inclusion of the dark side to bring us to awareness of our collective karma.~David Silver

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