Monthly Archives: April 2010

Kick Ass, Kicks Ass

Kick Ass the movie,  based on Mark Millar’s graphic novel, is not the most important film in the genre of comic book movies, it does not have the weighty social commentary of V for Vendetta, or the literary depth of Watchmen. It certainly is not as beautifully adapted as Sin City. Kick Ass is, however, a fun and even thought provoking movie experience.  The writing does rely a little too heavily on the revenge fantasy scenario so dear to the undemanding comic fans. It has the feel of the Punisher meets Paper Moon (a great father-daughter film by a Mr. Bogdanavich from 1973-netflix it if you are too young to remember.)

Kick Ass’s father-daughter team offer their own version of “punishment, not revenge”, with the young actress, Chloe Grace Moretz, stealing every scene she is in, and some she is not in, as the eleven year old vigilante, Hit-Girl. Nic Cage does a surprisingly in depth job of playing the ethically, if not morally questionable Dad bent on destroying his nemesis, even at the cost of destroying his daughter’s childhood.

The theme of the film attempts to address the issue of civic responsibility, through the adolescent and not too deep question,” if so many guys (and some gals) fantasize about being super heroes, how come nobody does it?”

The initial answer is, “that with no power comes no responsibility.” But the deeper insight is provided by the film’s protagonist, Dave Lizewski who sets out to become a real life superhero, only to discover the real meaning of hero is in the heart and not in the costume, and that even though we as individuals have little responsibility, we certainly do have some responsibility.  I can attest to this.

As somebody who has been in a position to risk injury in order to help or protect a disadvantaged or innocent victim, I can honestly say it is far worse to live with the shame of turning one’s back on the needs of others.  I say this even though my own crime fighting has not always ended well for me.

Once in the 80’s I was working in music promotions at a downtown Minneapolis night club when in the middle of the business day someone called into the office that there was some disturbance in the parking lot. I was sent to investigate.  In those days I wore all black leather and had a mohawk, looing a bit like an extra from the film Road Warrior. When I came into the garage I saw two goons mugging some accountant looking guy. I yelled at the two guys and ripped one of the chains decorating my leather off and began to run straight for them. They looked up, literally dropped their victim and took off running.  True story, happy ending.

Another incident didn’t end as well. I was coming out of a night club after closing hour and came across two young mods wearing skinny ties and 60’s suits who were being threatened by a trio of drunken-polo-shirt-wearing jocks. All of whom were considerably bigger than the two new wavers (and me for that matter.) Still it was my responsibility to say something, which I did. Probably something like, “shouldn’t you pick on somebody your own size?” Which, they decided they would. Unfortunately, to them, that meant me.  So they all jumped on me, knocked me to the ground and proceeded to kick the shit out of me.  They eventually tired and I was able to walk away a bloody mess with busted ribs and broken nose. Not so happy ending.  But I remained convinced that I did the right thing. The short term pain of bruised ribs and a busted nose is inconsequential to the never ending shame of walking away from someone who needed help.

This moral is consistent with the moral of the movie. It is also (here comes the connection to Eastern Philosphy) consistent with the expectation of a yogi. Although the yogi’s first tenet is non-violence (ahimsa), this also includes preventing harm.  A yogi would gladly sacrifice their own life to safe that of anothers.  Like the great Maharaja Shibi, who saved the life of a pigeon by supplying flesh from his own body.  A true yogi does not occupy any specific post but is always available to fill any post in service to God and humanity. Sometimes a yogi must fill the post of a kshatriya. Kshatriya means one who gives protection.  It is never that the yogi thinks, “now I am renounced from worldly concerns so I do not need to help my fellow spirit souls.” No, it is the opposite; the yogi is always concerned about the welfare of others, spiritually and materially.

Thus the lesson for the Modern Yogi: meditate on compassion, and the nature of the absolute, but always be prepared to kick ass if needed. 🙂

Rating: 7/10

Recommendation:  better than most of what’s out there…

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