October 5, 2014

Random Acts… Some things we can be proud of

Posted in Diversity, Entertainment, Movies at 4:05 pm by dinaheng

One of the biggest movie hits this year is Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a sci-fi fantasy that transforms characters who seem to care about nothing but themselves into a group of friends who grow to care about each other, and in the process, end up saving the day.Dinah Eng

The characters include Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a cocky space adventurer; Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a green-skinned female assassin; Drax (Dave Bautista) a big red guy with lots of rage; Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon genius, and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a walking overgrown tree root of loyalty and light.

In this universe, nobody cares what you look like because everyone looks different. What matters is how you treat those around you. It’s a message that sci-fi, as a genre, conveys to the audience in the guise of characters who usually look far from human.

"Guardians of the Galaxy." Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios.

“Guardians of the Galaxy.” Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios.

The film’s humor, special effects, poignant moments, and rollicking tale have kept “Guardians of the Galaxy” in theaters since August 1, generating box office receipts that no doubt have sent Disney and Marvel executives over the moon.

Another feature, CBS Films’ “PRIDE,” also tells a tale of disparate characters who come together and end up supporting each other in a land and time not that far away. The film is based on the true story of a group of gays and lesbians who decided to support the United Kingdom’s striking coal miners in 1984, creating a comedy/drama of how two different communities overcome their fears and grow to see each other as family.

The characters include Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), a gay activist; Dai Donovan (Paddy Considine), a union rep; Joe (George MacKay), a closeted young man; Hefina (Imelda Staunton), an outspoken townswoman; Cliff (Bill Nighy), the secretary of the local union chapter, and Jonathan (Dominic West), an effervescent gay man.

In the South Wales and London of 1984, people’s differences kept them apart, and everybody cared what side you were on. When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government decided to close 75 pits, British coal miners staged the largest industrial walk-out of modern times, refusing to work for nearly a year as their families faced cold winters without heat and the constant threat of hunger.

"PRIDE."  Photo courtesy of CBS Films.

“PRIDE.” Photo courtesy of CBS Films.

In “PRIDE,” a group of gay and lesbian activists see that the miners are the target of repression by the Thatcher government, the police and the tabloids – just like they are – and decide to raise funds for the miners and their families. When the mining community spurns their contributions, the LGSM (Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners) decides to concentrate their efforts on a local chapter in South Wales, where homophobia is clearly the norm.

How both sides come to see and value each other is an inspiring, entertaining, and uplifting story. Just as the union leadership challenges its members to overcome their homophobia, the leader of the LGSM challenges gays and lesbians to care as much about the pain of others as their own pain.

By the end of the film, you see that changing a mind occurs only after opening the heart, and that as painful as it is to confront fear, there is nothing more glorious than the love that awaits us on the other side.

Sadly, this film is unlikely to gross the box office that “Guardians of the Galaxy” has, which is a shame because the underlying message is the same.

Life is about discovering who we are, accepting who we are, and accepting others for who they are. It doesn’t matter if we have green skin or tree bark on the outside. It doesn’t matter who we love, but that we love. For Love is what will save us all.




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