SPOTLIGHT

Since watching the movie “Spotlight”, concerning a team of investigative reporters at The Boston Globe who uncovered decades of sexual abuse by catholic priests, and the systemic cover-ups of them, I can not stop thinking about the question “how far are institutions willing to go to protect themselves?”.

I have actually heard about the John Geoghan case before, and I remember doing some research and thereby finding out how the higher-ups in the church turned a blind eye to the ongoing continuous stream of sexual assaults that the priest did, as he was sent from parish to parish. Nevertheless, what I did not know back then, or before watching the movie, was how extensive and intensive the cover-ups were. The church turned away from hundreds of people, cities and countries, which we see as they are being mentioned at the ending titles.
The scene that made me the most uncomfortable, yet opened my mind to what was truly happening, was the scene where a female reporter visits a former priests’ house. As he answers the door, to her surprise, he talks about preforming assaults as it is nothing. That specific scene truly showed me that the hierarchy could not grasp the long lasting trauma their deeds had inflicted, as well as the betrayal the kids and their families must have felt. Families looked at the priests as Gods and found it hard to tell them no. I found it almost unbearable to look at someone who was close to unconcerned by the actions he had done and talked about his deeds like it was the weather.

As I see it, there is one clear conflict in the film; the evil visited on children, and the systemic cover-ups done by the catholic church and their system to protect the institution. When institutions convinced of their own greatness come together and join forces, the innocent suffer as the truth is buried. This is where the four member “Spotlight” team comes in and spend the eight next months digging in the role of the Boston archdiocese, to uncover the truth. Breaking the pattern of strong institutions standing together is not easy. Furthermore, challenging a deeply respected authority can be daunting.

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I found it hard to point out the protagonist in the movie, therefor I have to conclude that the movie falls under the category of a multiple protagonist movie. As “The Boston Globe’s” new editor puts an investigation team, named Spotlight (hence the name), on the case, we get introduced to four individuals; Robby Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Matt Caroll and Sacha Pfeiffer. Each character is given separate scenes where they are in focus, and in where their particular skill-set is on display. The story does not go personally into each character but seem to focus on the work aspect of them, which I am truly fond of. I find that by restraining the areas that explore the main characters personally, we get a deeper and unrestrained view to the emotional state of the victims.

Furthermore, I found it tricky to point out the antagonist of the film as the director portrayed both good and bad sides of most characters. Just as with the protagonists, I feel as though this movie is a multiple antagonist film. Most obviously, we see that the catholic church and the hierarchy are portrayed as the antagonists. In addition to the church, another antagonist worth mentioning is the lawyer that continuously defends the church and ignores their wrong-doings. Furthermore, as the journalists overlooked the case when they received evidence against the priest, as well as choosing not to pay attention to the victims the first time, you find it hard to sympathize with the journalists as they experience hardships. Fortunately, they pick up the case again, and go through it as thoroughly as the case and those involved deserves.

Final thoughts ;

  • “Spotlight” is a movie that portrays professional accomplishment and captures the good parts of journalism. The story is grounded in real life historical events, and the characters are carefully crafted to portray the reporters as accurately as possible. As a whole, the story is told in a realistic way, with skilled actors and an interesting plot.
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My thoughts on the movie “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the movie. It might have been because I read the book beforehand and had too high expectations as to how the movie would play out. I believed the movie would stay as true to the book as possible but found myself wondering if the director had read the same book as I did. Although most of the characters were recognizable, the problematic and significant change is that the American is very much known to the viewer. Furthermore, the movie presumably included intensified dramatic circumstances with intentions of giving the movie a more suspenseful tone. I truly do not understand why the director (and Hamid?) decided on adding elements such as kidnapping, CIA-surveillance and death as they were all absent in the book. Perhaps they felt as though the meandering conversation that found place in the book was too rudderless for a screenplay? I do understand that the print and the visual are indisputably two very different forms. Adding on, besides the weird and unexpected additions to the film, I did find both the book and the movie to be enriching, but as different stories.

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist, ch. 8/9

Chapter eight starts with Changez noticing the uneasiness of the American around their waiter. Changez himself acknowledged that the waiter was indeed intimidating but explains that it is only due to his origins; the waiter comes from the mountainous northwest, where life was difficult. In addition to this, his tribe had been attacked by American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Further into the chapter, Changez continues on the topic of Erica where he dropped off in the previous chapter. Erica’s condition had come back, and it was at its peak. Erica’s mother wanted stability for her daughter. She told Changez that Erica did not need a boyfriend, but a friend, and Changez is alarmed; not by the words themselves but alarmed by the desperation that went uninterrupted from her eyes to her voice. She told him that Erica was a “sick girl at the moment”, and that emotional upheavals could be unhealthy for her. He partly understood her concern as he, in the following paragraphs, was talking to Erica, and she was unable to obtain a conversation. In addition to this, the medication Erica was taking seemed to be counterproductive; Erica does not manage to move past the memories of Chris, but dwells on them. Erica was profoundly lost in the past, too in love with Chris, to be reachable for Changez. Previously, Changez seemed to become comfortable with aspects of America, and, up until now, when there were features of New York Changez was uncomfortable with, he turned to Erica.  This is the chapter in which Changez realizes he cannot turn to Erica for comfort any longer, which leaves him feeing out of place alongside her, as well as in America. Before leaving, Changez promised Erica’s mother to stay away until Erica contacted him herself, and he keeps the promise.

Despite both Erica and America staving off Changez, he does not give up on the United States as a whole. Changez decided to put all energy into his career at Underwood Samson. Unfortunately, Changez starts to worry about losing his job, due to his Pakistani background. His co-workers are whispering behind his back, and he suspects an underlying discriminating and racist tone to their whispers. His feelings of being discriminated against intensify as he is faced with racism on the street by degradingly cursing. Changez reacts by thinking of physical violence, but luckily manages to restrain.

Changez found working hard to be a stress-reliever as his mind anywhere else was occupied by thinking of the possibilities of Pakistan going to war with India soon. The thought of war alone is what convinces Changez to fly back to Pakistan to see his parents. With the extra money Changez got from a bonus at Underwood Samson, he was able to afford flying back home. Changez was shocked to learn how changed his home country was, as his family was preparing for the predictable violence that would come their way as the war begins. Changez wanted to stay in Pakistan but was unable to protest when his parents tell him to return to America and his job. He felt powerless, unable to protect his family and home country. Changez seems ashamed to leave everything behind and flee to America. Despite Changez insisting on staying, he was soon departing Pakistan. Whilst on the plane, he took note of the many young men leaving their home. Just like Changez, these were the men that were expected to stay and fight for their country but were instead leaving a nation soon at war instead of staying to defend it.

 

I believe these chapters show how far Changez and Erica are drifting apart as the time goes by. Their relationship/friendship is going through a rough-patch, where there seem to be a minimum of glistering, heart-warming moments between them. Erica seems to think personal space for the both of them is the best option, whilst Changez on the other side longs for physical contact. Erica is caught up in the past, thinking of Chris, and Changez is left worrying for Pakistan and the uprising war. Erica takes a step back and clings on to the past, whist Changez is thinking about the future. The two of them are craving two entirely different things and are beginning to walk in complete separate directions. Erica begins to shut out Changez and does not allow him to get up-close like before. Her mental health is exacerbating as her obsessive nostalgia for Chris develops further.

As of right now, I do not see a positive ending when it comes to the two of them having a normal and healthy relationship. Before they can love and accept each other for what they are and how they are, they need to work themselves out. Maybe spending time together would have had positive effects, but we are left unknown as they keep their distance.

 

Day of terror – 9/11

September 11th, 2001 brought the first attacks on US territory since Pearl Harbor in 1941. The attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon using hijacked passengers planes were unprecedented by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al-Qaeda. Some 2750 people were killed in the twin towers, 184 at the pentagon and 40 in Pennsylvania (never reaching its final target, the white house, as the passengers fought back against the terrorists).

9/11 is a day people vividly remembers; the devastation, grief and loss. September 11th was an event that changed America. I personally was too young to remember anything from the tragic event, but I have watched several documentaries on the topic and I am left speechless. At last, I am always left with is the incredible heroism, selflessness and unity that was seen under the attacks, as well as the time following. Yes, America fell but also united to pay homage to the many heroes that were first responders as well as the thousands of ordinary Americans who did the extraordinary.

 

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

  • Right now, my international English class is working with the novel “The reluctant fundamentalist” written by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2007. The book is about a young Pakistani man called Changez who meets an American in his hometown, and to which he tells his “successful” US story to. The book is set in a café in the capital of Pakistan, Lahore. This is a novel in the subject of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.trf.jpg

– So far, I have mixed feelings about the novel. At the very beginning I was struggling to get the hang of what was going on, but I rapidly found a rather great fondness of the structure and composition. Although I do enjoy the story, I still find it weird how we only see the responses of Changez when there are conversations between him and the American.

I love the uncertainty of the main character, Changez. The story is considerably unpredictable, and most of the time I am left with my own assumptions as to whether Changez is a normal but oversharing guy, or an extremist. I appreciate the diversity of the chapters, and the increasing amount of details that appear in each chapter. I furthermore believe that underlying symbols are a part of this story, and I am intrigued to read more!

– My thoughts on the company Underwood Samson is, like the story as a whole, also mixed. Sherman, one of Underwood Samson’s vice presidents, explains to Changes and the other recruits that the company is a meritocracy. A meritocracy is by definition “A social system, society, or organization in which people have power because of their abilities, not because of their money or social position” (Cambridge university). At first glance Underwood Samson sounds like the American dream written down; hard work, talent and determination will be rewarded, anything but the best will not be tolerated. I fear an underlying racism from his co-employees, but only further reading will show if it is just a feeling or a reality.

– After Changez succeeds in being employed under Underwood Samson, he declares “I was never an American, I was immediately a New Yorker”. I believe the quote is Changez feelings as he immerses himself in the American dream. Although Changez claims to be distant to America, he is so immersed in his new job that he embraces the possibilities opportunities New York has to offer. New York is so far (five chapters in) treating Changez with a welcoming spirit, and we even read about Changez not being uncomfortable wearing his traditional clothes amongst others. Changez has gained himself a great life in America, and his materialistic and personal situation has visibly improved from what he is used to back in Pakistan. We see further proof of his fondness of New York in the quote “My voice is rising? You are right; I tend to become sentimental when I think of that city. It still occupies a place of great fondness in my heart”.  

– Erica is one of Changez’ classmates. She is portrayed predominantly positively throughout the chapters. Changez develops strong feelings towards her from the very beginning, and we read about his growing fondness for her. She is described using words such as regal. out of reach and is even compared to a lioness. Another thing worthy of mentioning, is that Erica is seemingly still clinging on to her boyfriend Chris, who died from lung cancer a year prior,  in form of physical memories such as shirts and drawings.

  • She attracted people to her; she had prescience, an uncommon magnetism”. 

We rapidly learn Erica does not like being alone, and she is seemingly never so. Anywhere Changez went with her, she was surrounded by people who seemed to thoroughly enjoy her presence. Additionally, despite her friendly nature, something in Erica seems to be “broken”, and lost in thoughts unsaid.  Regardless of my last statement, she is portrayed as someone beautiful inside-out.

Outsourced

 “You need to learn about India”.

Outsourced is a romantic comedy film released in 2006, directed by John Jeffcoat. The movie is centred around the American call center manager Todd Anderson. When Todd’s department in order fulfillment is set to be outsourced to India, his boss gives him one final task which is to travel to Gharapuri, India, to train his replacement. If Todd returns, he will be fired, deprived of his stock options and his medical-and pension benefits, like all his American co-workers have been. After evading all his anger and frustration, Todd at last chooses to travel to India.

Before Todd got comfortable in India, he was faced with several major cultural differences he had to overcome. Todd had an extremely narrow-minded view on the knowledge and skills the Indian workers had.

Immediately upon arrival in India, Todd was met with an immensely different culture. Todd had minor but significant troubles from the beginning with getting on the train and catching a taxi. Even every-day tasks such as eating was done wrong according to the Indian standard. Luckily, Todd was staying with an accepting and tolerant family, who taught him about the rights and wrongs. Instead of scolding Todd when he ate with his left hand, they educated him on the reasons as to why he should refrain from doing so: in Indian culture, the left hand is considered unclean and only reserved for body hygiene. Todd quickly adjusted and listened the family’s advice. From this point on, he never does it again. By learning respectful manners, communicating with others becomes easier, and Todd tries to adjust which is highly admirable.

As Todd arrived at the call center he is supposed to manage, he unveiled his minor knowledge and substantial stereotypical views directed towards Indians. One of the many misconceptions Todd brought with him from America, was not acknowledging that Indians are native English speakers, albeit with a different accent.

Todd’s lack of knowledge and limited insight into the Indian culture proved itself numerous times, and just as you thought there was nothing more to perceive wrongly, Todd proved everyone wrong. One particular scene that showed the extent of Todd’s narrow cultural knowledge, was when he brought up burn marking toast the same way you would burn mark cows. Obviously, Todd did not know cows are sacred animals in India, and as soon as the words left his mouth he was left with an audible gasp and the words “You need to learn about India”. The words came from Asha, his co-worker and the girl who he falls in love with.

One noticeable scene that makes Todd realize for certain that he must let go of some of his misconceptions, is the scene at the restaurant called MacDonnell’s. Originally, Todd travelled for hours to get what he thought was a cheeseburger from McDonald’s, but instead ended up at the knock-off restaurant that only sells vegetarian food. As he is about to leave, he meets a fellow American who gives Todd a certain comfort. Before the scene ends, the American tells Todd that “I was resisting India. Once I gave in, I did much better”. After this, Todd seems to open up more to the Indian culture.

Subsequently, Todd finds himself in the middle of the annual festival of colours, Holi. Coincidentally, he happened to wear his finest white shirt that day, unaware of what was coming his way. At first, he panicked and ran away from those celebrating, but he eventually finds himself fully indulging in the festivities himself. This scene finishes off by him submerging himself into the local lake with a content smile on his face, which can be interpreted as if he has embraced the Indian culture and become part of it.

In closing, you can say the India trip only had positive outcomes. Thanks to his unexpected learning experiences as well as the mutual fondness of his employee Asha, Todd improved in several areas. From being a cold business-minded American with stereotypical attitudes and prejudices, Todd grew to be a welcoming, happy and more cordial person who had no troubles communicating with the contrasting India. That being said, being accompanied by people from a welcoming environment truly helped. Something to learn from this, is that travelling with an open-minded view of what you will experience and who you meet will only benefit you. Educate yourself and indulge in other cultures, and your mindset will expand to become a much more tolerable and accepting one. (Do what Todd did; learn about India).

 

 

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