Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tom Shadyac examines his and our old souls in "I Am"

A few years back, Hollywood director and producer Tom Shadyac  (“Evan Almighty” and “Bruce Almighty”) had a bike accident, leaving him with a concussion and prolonged depression during recovery. This led him to examine all of her personal values and start a dialogue with a number of leaders and writers like Desmond Tutu, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky.

I am” “what can be right with the world again.”  The film has a tagline, "The shift is about to hit the fan."

The thrust of the film ("I Am" or "Je suis" or Ich bin" or "Estoy"  or "我" or "Я" ) is to maintain that man is primarily a social animal, intended to live in groups (families and above), and, as an individual, to consume only what he or she needs.  In nature, wild animals in herds practice “democracy” expressed by the body language of the majority.

In an animation sequence, he points out that at one time “hunter gatherers” who were more productive started consuming more for themselves, leading to an individually competitive society. Of course, there’s moral ambiguity: the person who produces less may be lazy and “deserve” less, or he or she may be truly disabled. In real life, it’s often a combination of the two. All of this brought to mind the mantra "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", often mocked in the Army barracks at Fort Eustis back in 1969 (and some people who were there will remember this). 

He points out that lion prides kill only what they will eat (what they need), though he doesn’t mention that alpha male lions kill the cubs of other males in order to monopolize the future gene pool (as was pointed out in NatGeo’s “The Last Lions”). 

The idea that everyone should be tied in to the “social network” (no pun) before expecting recognition for the self does have some potential traction. That could help rectify the underlying structures that lead to an “unfair economy” (that’s what I call the “pay your dues” mentality explored by Barbara Ehrenreich, Lisa Dodson, and others). Arguable, it could make longstanding marriages (which don’t have to be heterosexual always) stable enough to raise children.

Shadyac eventually moved from his Beverly Hills palaces to a mobile home park on Malibu Beach. I hope he escapes the natural wildfires – but there, neighbors take each other in, just as in the New Testament.

The film seems to be self-distributed, by Shady Acres Entertainment, with official site here


Hint: you can have fun with Google translate.  Every language has irregular verbs. Cogito ergo sum

Picture above: From the Washington DC Metro, "I Am" is the name of an exhibit "The African American Imprint" to be shown as a National Geographic event in downtown DC.  It's website is here or (NatGeo) here.

Second picture: Revelers return from Circus at the Verizon Center, Washington DC.

Related: "ALL Together Now: A Celebration of Service" from Points of Light on TV blog, March 28.

Shadyac's ideas correspond to those about euscociality and altruism in a book by Wilson, reviewed on my books blog, May 1, 2012.

Note: URL title has "Tim" rather than "Tom" in name because of a typo. "Tom" is correct.

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