Sunday, May 5, 2013

Good People

            Do you ever think about the question of good and evil? I do, often. I think about other things, too, like putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads, but the questions that create a dialog in my mind are the questions which seem to have no final answer, like the question of good and evil.

            The issue came up when a man with contacts in the film industry offered to write the screen version of What Rough Beast and to offer it to his contacts. Is that cool or what? I was absolutely blown away by the possibilities. But I backed away.

            What? Why?

            He felt strongly that we should change the premise. He wanted to insert a cause: a natural plague or manmade chemical disaster which disrupted the mental processes of most people and made them violently paranoid. He wanted to turn What Rough Beast into another zombie movie. Well, that’s been done, as you well know.

            Don’t get me wrong. I like some zombie/crazies movies. I’ve seen Will Smith in I Am Legend a half a dozen times. Will Smith is a great actor. With some adjustments here and there, Will Smith could play Jonathan Taylor in What Rough Beast. And I like the Resident Evil films. Milla Jovovich, the star, is strong and vulnerable at the same time. Michelle Rodriguez was in the first film and they brought her back for the most recent episode. I think Michelle Rodriguez is a terrific actress. I don’t know why Michelle Rodriguez hasn’t been given a leading role. (I named Will Smith and Michelle Rodriguez three times (now four) because I’ve read that three mentions in a blog will trigger something and maybe Will Smith or Michelle Rodriguez (five) will notice that I wrote about them, and getting noticed is part of the game.) Anyway, the point is, I enjoy that type of movie, but I didn’t want to see What Rough Beast turned into just another zombie movie.

            You see, here’s the thing: the only monsters I write about are the ones we see in our mirrors every morning. They’re attractive and polished and, oh, so very well-intentioned. They see poverty, pain and injustice in the world and they’re going to do something about it – some day. What is that old adage about the road to perdition being paved with good intentions?

            Someone who read What Rough Beast asked if I really had such a low view of humanity. That’s a good question. I believe people live with internal contradictions. We’re capable of notable acts of kindness and equally notable acts of brutality. So long as the world respects us, we are civil, even genteel, but if the world threatens us, it’s Katie, bar the door. Have you watched the TV series, Doomsday Preppers? The people are pleasant and civil – the family next door – but they’re armed to the teeth and if there is a cataclysmic event, don’t show up on their doorsteps because they will shoot you. We don’t need an outside cause. We only need a trigger, something that threatens our persons, our families or our survival. That’s the premise for What Rough Beast.

            You may wonder if this has anything to do with the philosophical question of good and evil. It’s a simple observation that ordinary (good) people are capable of dreadful (evil) acts, and these are the people (you and I) that I write about.