Human Remains

I’ve been having many thoughts about “Human Remains” and I wanted to share some of them since they kind of excite me (don’t worry; it’s only a page-worth).


I guess what interests me the most about the film—at this point—is the fact that these dictators have a chance to justify their “evil” ways to a contemporary audience, but they never do; in fact, they never even acknowledge that anything evil even happened. Instead, they say a bunch of banal humdrum that only serves to distract the viewer from thinking about the important issues that need to be addressed. They try to keep us passive, just as they did with the people they lead, because they know a proactive mind only gets in the way of what they want to accomplish and, in turn, makes life much more uncomfortable.


But a preference for a passive culture is not dictator-specific. Everyday human interaction, as you have observed on the commuter rail, is all about engaging in banal conversation so as to avoid issues/problems that ought to be discussed. And people engage in this conversation so much that they begin to think this is the only way to communicate with each other. Once that happens, passive complacency becomes the norm, which allows a culture’s problems to grow to a point where something horrible happens (e.g. six million Jews get exterminated).


My attention was drawn to the front page of The Boston Globe Thursday after seeing the film. It had a photo of George Bush with the New England Patriots. Bush was telling Teddy Bruschi how courageous he was “both on and off the field” and everyone was clapping. I couldn’t help but draw the parallel between this and Hitler’s meeting with and praise of “the Kid” from Chaplin’s movie. Fun events such as these help distract the public and take their attention away from issues that need to be focused on (in Bush’s case, the trouble in Iraq). Sadly, the media only serves to assist with this distraction, since these events make for great Human Interest stories and thus sell more newspapers, get better ratings and such.


So, I think one possible lesson to be extracted from the film is that “evil” is the banal conversation we engage in with each other; it is our means of distracting others and ourselves from important issues that need to be addressed; it is our divorcement from reality (reality being, as you have said, what we personally feel and the actions we take to express these feelings outwardly)—all of which make us a race of passively complacent people. The mass exterminations and other atrocities…those are merely the byproducts of this evil; they are what can happen when people become so distracted and detached from reality that the problems in their culture swell beyond control. Surely it’s much easier to interact with each other when we don’t have to think or take much action or question things or stir the soup or be a “squeaky wheel,” so to speak; nevertheless, causing trouble is the healthiest way to live.


Anyway, I enjoyed the film. Watching a short film like this ought to be included as part of a person’s daily exercise. Physical activity is good for the heart, but mental activity is good for the brain, and a good debate can be had over which organ is more important to keep healthy. Part of the problem (with Americans especially) is that we only think of health in physical terms. If we go to the gym five days a week and get a good workout in, we’re in good shape. We have forgotten that the brain can atrophy as well, and having an inactive brain is probably more dangerous than having an inactive heart. I’ll be in class on Tuesday. Thanks, Matt


Ray Carney's Response

Wow. How deep. And how much I agree with you. I'm going to post your note on my web letters page as soon as I can get a computer person to help me update the site in a month or two. -- Ray Carney, Prof. of Film and American Studies


Response from a visitor of my website

Hey, I read your email about the Indie film 'Human Remains' I totaly feel you on that shit. Thing is, is that artists like you and I really dont need a film to show us cause we see it with our own eyes, right? Hence why we make film. I mean, Ive been telling people that for a long time now. And also I think that products, like cell phones, video games, new cars, ect. Are another factor that evil prevails without the public going crazy. We are so distracted with what we are going to buy next, that we could care less about what evil things our government is doing. I think products is a way to make an individual feel powerful. As if they are super human. The product they buy makes them feel a certain way and tells other people alot about their personality. An I think individualisim within a society, allows a government to do whatever it pleases. The way our country is going there should have been an uprising by now. Dont you think? I dont know. I just think that the movement that happened during the the Veitnam war is just a result of people being aware, and not distracted by the power of product placement. Where as now a days theres something new to buy every second. Good to know you bro! And good luck in the industry. Hey maybe we'll work together some day. Peace XXXXX


My Response

I agree. The problem with this country is that individualism is thought of in very materialistic terms, not idealistic ones. In other words, we feel free to buy whatever we want, but we don't feel so free to think whatever we want and, more importantly, say what we think. The government likes this because it helps keep the economy moving and, at the same time, keeps people idealistically passive and, thus, out of their way to do the things they think are in the best interest of the country (spread their idea of "democracy, " aka capitalism).


We are surrounded with Cable and Satellite TV, video games, cell phone toys, Internet stuff etc. Our nation has successfully made its economy strong and kept its people completely distracted in the distracted that we don't even stop to think that money and economy may not be as important as they seem. This, I think, is why America may be the new Germany. We are a very evil country, simply because we are so distracted and thus, passive. And a nation as passive as we are is capable of doing something very bad. Killing six million Jews? No, we won't do that. But something else very bad? I don't want to find out. The sooner we change things, the better.


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