Why We Need More of NBC’s “The Brave”

In the fall of 2017, NBC put out a little show called “The Brave” starring Mike Vogel, Anne Heche, and a full cast of truly delightful people. The Brave follows a small military unit led by Adam Dalton (Vogel) that specializes in extractions, rescues, and yes, even the occasional assassination. They are overseen from D.C. by Patricia Campbell (Heche) and her brilliant staff.

The components I just listed are not that extraordinary in and of themselves. Many military dramas have had the same ingredients, and they never rose in rank above their peer shows. On paper, The Brave looks no different. So why is this show so great?

I believe what sets The Brave apart from other military shows is the heart.

The heart of this show IS the military men and women it seeks to represent. Our real life heroes are truly the stars of this show, even though the roles are portrayed by actors. Dean Georgaris (writer, creator), the cast, and the crew give every moment 110%, because their top priority is to honor and represent our real heroes. This heart of respect and passion shine through every moment, every line, every wounded look and new scar that is gained.

The Brave is character-centric, as a good story should be. Unlike many other action-heavy shows, The Brave does not rely on explosions, fancy gadgets, or trumped up inter-personal drama to bring viewers in. Does that mean its boring? Heck no! Each new episode brings a unique location, creative problem solving, and some straight up epic scenes that often do involve explosions. Not to mention humor that is natural and classy. These elements are all the better because they are not carrying the weight of the show, but rather highlighting the true pillar of this series, the characters.

The team is composed of imperfect, broken, beautiful people who have come together with a common purpose. They share a goal to protect freedom and innocent lives, even if it means giving their own. They laugh, they fight, and they cry together. No one is left behind. The Brave doesn’t use cheap and gratuitous sex, gore, or language for shock value like so many shows do. It showcases real people, who love each other, doing a very hard job. And it does it well.

The Brave addresses the male/female equality discussion brilliantly, it doesn’t talk about it. Talk is cheap, actions are not.

Deputy Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche) is a competent and strong leader. She evaluates, gives orders, and supports wherever, whenever she is needed. Her tactical and analyst teams, composed of men and women, trust and respect her without question. Hannah Archer (Sofia Pernas) and Noah Morganthau (Tate Ellington) have developed a brilliant rhythm where they play to each other’s strengths and use their different approaches to create a broader perspective.

Sergeant Jasmine “Jaz” Kahn (Natacha Karam) is the tactical team’s sniper, and one of the toughest women currently on TV. She’s had to work incredibly hard to be where she is, but she is valued and respected by the men she calls “my guys”. Even pretty boy medic, Sergeant Joseph J. “McG” McGuire (Noah Mills) carries himself with respect and compassion, which is not always the case for his character type.

The men of The Brave are fully men, the women are fully women. Together they are powerful. There is no “us” and “them”, no struggle for the spotlight. Each person, be they tactical, or analyst, know their strengths, and their weaknesses. They celebrate and lean on each other’s strengths, and support each other through their weaknesses, just as God intended.

This is the key to a good team, if only the rest of the world would quit spewing useless words and just start treating each other with the same value and respect.

The Brave represents the true heart of America. This is the show where a Muslim intelligence operative, Agent Amir Al-Raisani (Hadi Tabal), and a Christian family man, CPO Ezekiel “Preach” Carter (Demetrius Grosse) fight side by side as brothers and friends. They face evil as allies with a common cause.

That has been the heart of America, even through our biggest mistakes and worst moments, the goal of this country is freedom, life, and unity. We are made up of all colors, shapes, sizes, and religions. We come from different circumstances, we carry different baggage. But that isn’t something to fear, it’s something to celebrate and enjoy. The men and women of The Brave fight to protect these ideals, and to protect the brother or the sister beside them. The love these characters have for each other is so beautiful, so rich. It’s what America was meant to be, and it’s what I still believe in.

And now for my favorite part of The Brave.

Because I have watched this show, I feel like I better understand the hearts and minds of our service men and women.

I have not had the privilege of knowing many service men or women in my life, so my knowledge regarding their experience has been limited. Through watching The Brave and subsequently interacting on Twitter with service members, I have learned so much. In the most recent episode, Grounded, Dalton (Vogel) had a monologue describing something very personal, very emotional regarding his experiences in combat and how they have effected him. A gentleman on Twitter responded so powerfully.

@Mike_Vogel just told the story so many of us veterans have tried to get out into the world in that monologue in that final part of #thebrave

To which Mike Vogel replied….

It’s your story _________. We’re sorry the world is so slow to listen, but we thank you for answering the call and being part of it. We owe you guys everything.

Got chills yet? I know I do.

I believe the call of a storyteller is to tells stories that bring life, truth, and understanding. It is to delight an audience, to give them a good time, but to also instill in them a deeper understanding of something, or someone. It is to share an experience that the audience may have never had. It is to be a voice for someone who either can’t speak, or doesn’t know how. Or in this case, a voice for someone who has been yelling, but no one has heard.

It is to tell the people it represents, “I hear you, I see you, and you are NOT forgotten!” And to give the rest of the audience a chance to say, “We see you, and you are loved.”

Stories are meant to bridge experiences, to delight, to teach….to heal.

The Brave has accomplished all of this in a glorious, beautiful way. No, I am not just talking about the fact that this entire cast is almost too good-looking and charming for my TV screen to handle. Who needs explosives on hand when you have dynamite smiles to work with?

I have seen The Brave, and I have seen the people it is touching….

….and I see life.

Something this special is worth protecting. This show is worth renewing. Our team has more missions to go on and more stories to tell. NBC, we hope you are listening, ’cause you have a treasure right now, and we want more of it.

Part 1 of the Season 1 finale airs Jan. 22, at 10/9c on NBC. If you aren’t already watching, you will be before long. 

 

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Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

I imagine most of you have seen Rogue One by now. If not, do not read further as there will be spoilers included. And if you have, then welcome, Fellow Star Wars Fan. We are forever changed after seeing that film.

There is so much to say on the subject of Rogue One, I have several articles waiting in the wings, but for now, I would like to focus on the titular character of the movie:

Jyn Erso.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joined the annals of Star Wars history as yet another deserving Star Wars leading lady. She owned her role beautifully and brought a level of human authenticity to the Star Wars world that was unlike anything I have yet seen. Not to say that the other Star Wars leading ladies have failed, quite the contrary, but their stories and roles are drastically different from Jyn’s.

Rogue One was such a raw and personal movie that it was only going to succeed if it’s characters were equally raw and personal. Jyn had a brief, but fiercely important role to play in the timeline of Star Wars. And because she played that role so well, she will never be forgotten.

I want to share a few specific things I found deeply attractive about this character, and why I am adding her to my list of real women in cinema.

1. She was scared.

Based upon earlier trailers for Rogue One, I was not at all looking forward to Jyn’s character. To me, she came across as untouchable and sarcastic. In fact, before the re-shoots, I have a feeling that may be closer to Jyn’s original portrayal. But more on that another day.

When the final trailer came out I was delighted to see that she actually appeared to be far more human than I had first believed.

My secondary impression was correct. We first meet Jyn as an innocent child, yet another victim of the Empire’s cruelty that robs her of both her mother and father. She’s a sweet little girl with braids and a stuffed doll that she drops when fleeing the Storm troopers.

little-jyn

As a young woman, you can still see that haunted and frightened look of a child in her huge eyes. She doesn’t walk around with a chip on her shoulder and an exaggerated swagger (she’s no Solo after all). Instead she goes through life with her head down and keeps running. Even when she is “rescued” by the rebels she attempts to flee. Her fighting reactions are that of a cornered animal rather than a fierce warrior.

frightened-jyn

To me, this is far more accurate than if they had made Jyn some fierce and untouchable warrior. She has quite obviously gone through terrifying things, and she just wants to feel safe. She just wants her daddy back. Is there anything more human than that?

2. She was compassionate

One of my absolute favorite moments in this entire movie was when Jyn saves the little girl during the raid in Jedha. She looked at that child and saw herself, and despite the fact that she has a huge survivor’s instinct, her instinct to protect that baby was stronger. Cassian tries to call her back, but she ignores him and runs into the crossfire. She scoops up the terrified little lady and returns her safely to her mama.  As much as that moment frustrated Cassian, he was also deeply attracted to it. Compassion is a rare quality, but it’s also one of the most alluring.

Jyn’s compassion extended further when she learned the truth about the Death Star and was given the information about how to destroy it. Her earlier instinct to get in, get out, and survive is once more overridden by her desire to protect others. Jyn’s heart for others is even bigger than her beautiful eyes. These moments were a beautiful illumination of her true heart, and made her an unforgettable character.

3. She was hopeful

Hope, like compassion, is a rare quality. Jyn has a lot of reasons to stop hoping. She has been haunted and hunted by the Empire since childhood. They have taken everything from her and millions of others in the galaxy. She could just throw her hands up in despair, but instead, she chooses to grab onto hope and charge into battle with it.

Cassian was raised his entire life in this Rebellion. He’s used to sleepless nights, long odds, and big regrets. He doesn’t give up, and yet, even he seems to be awakened in a new way by Jyn’s hope and determination. Jyn’s sweet little quotation during the Rebel council,

“Rebellions are built on hope,”

was actually his original statement. And yet, Cassian’s reaction to her hopeful initiative is like someone coming alive again. It’s as if he is hearing that concept in a completely new, and reachable way. He is going into battle with a fresh countenance and renewed sense of purpose that only Jyn was able to awaken.

jyns-rallying-hope

Hopeful people heal and rally those around them. Hope is like an infectious disease, it cannot help but spread. Jyn’s hope was beautiful and rejuvenating. She rallied an entire organization, a group of incredible and effective individuals around her because of her hope and determination. I have a hard time believing a jaded and sarcastic character would have been nearly as effective.

4. She was beautiful and ladylike

Despite the fact that Jyn was in one, practical outfit, went through multiple battles, killed storm troopers, climbed towers, and did a million other “dirty” things, she was such a lady. Being termed a lady has nothing to do with keeping your clothes clean or staying out of harm’s way, it is an overall bearing and way of carrying yourself in any situation.

Jyn felt so feminine to me. She wasn’t seductive once, she didn’t try to gain attention for herself, she didn’t constantly have to advertise how smart and capable she was. And yet, by the end of the movie during that dreadful and wonderful beach scene, you could see in Cassian’s eyes how much he loved her.

She was not unnecessarily crass and she wasn’t hardened and bitter. She was strong and tender.

Jyn was so, so beautiful. Her beautiful heart and wonderful character came out and clothed her as brilliantly as if she had been a member of Princess Leia’s court. Her daddy’s sweet nick-name Stardust was perfect for this lovely girl, for she sparkled and cast light like a beautiful star.

jyns-face

*****

I loved the character work done with many of the characters in this beautiful and heartbreaking film, and Jyn was one of the finest. Gareth Edwards and Felicity Jones can be proud of what they accomplished with her, she was a wonderful character to grace the screen and I hope we have the privilege of seeing many more women like her in the future.

As I said above, I have more Rogue One articles waiting in the wings. I would love to hear from you all as well. What did you love about the movie? Did you love Jyn Erso as much as I did? What is one thing you thought they incredibly well?

Like Star Wars? Here are a few more articles you might find interesting.

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

Where are the Real Women?

In nearly 100 years of film, real life women been largely misrepresented.

Earlier decades saw women as pretty faces with over dramatic reactions to everything. Tears, screams, and tripping over nonexistent obstacles were many cliches and stereotypes that media portrayed.

There is the consistent portrayal no matter the decade of the seductress, a woman who is all body. She uses her body like a currency to buy, beg, or steal whatever she wants.

The empty-headed woman, she’s beautiful and everyone wants to be with her, but she’s not that handy in a pinch. That’s okay, because she’s a good kisser and she’s a blonde, which depending upon the decade means this woman is instantly more valuable than any brunette or redhead.

The taboo on portraying older women with wrinkles, sags, gray or white hair. After all, beauty only exists in between 18-40, right?

In more recent decades Hollywood has attempted to create the strong woman. More often than not, what comes out is a kick-butt woman with incredible intelligence. She’s also totally “sexy”. It looks great at first glance, until you realize something vital is missing. She’s a robot. There is no compassion, no nurturing, no warmth, no sorrow, no love, so softness. She’s cold and unapproachable. She can rip your face off without breaking a sweat and crack an impossible code, yet she has no idea what to do when someone just needs a hug.

Where are the real women? Where are the wives, the mothers, the grandmothers, the daughters, the sisters, the nieces, the cousins, the best friends, the good neighbors? Where are the real women who are strong and soft, the women who are intelligent and also have lost moments? Where are the business women, the stay-at-home-working women, the plus sized women, the older women, the hurting women, the loving women….

….where are the imperfect women who are perfectly beautiful in their real, raw complexity?

I’m sick of it. Real women are a mix of so many things, pieces of the above and many more things that I have no mentioned. Real women are so complex, so layered, and have many qualities, good and bad. They are not all one thing, and they do so many things. They are each uniquely beautiful, regardless of age, weight, coloration, or occupation.

I think it is possible that Hollywood may finally be getting an inkling that they create fake women, but we are well past “it’s about time”. I think the journey to making real women the stars of the movies is going to be a long one. Our pop culture is built upon a concept of unreachable perfection that Hollywood has greatly contributed to.

I intend to write some posts featuring some rare exceptions to the rule that I have found sprinkled throughout various movies and TV shows. These are moments throughout the decades where someone actually understood that beautiful mystery that is a woman, and attempted to bring her to life on screen. I applaud anyone who does this, and I hope that more will attempt this accuracy in the future.

It is time for truth to appear on our screens, and I for one hope to become a part of that at some point.

What are some real women you have been inspired by on screen and in real life?

Bless you all, and a Happy 2017 to you!

The Flawed Film That Succeeded: My All American

Every film has flaws. Some are flawed to the point where you are wondering just how low-blood sugar the makers were during the process of creating and producing that particular film.

Other films are largely wonderful, with just enough flaws to keep them human.

My All American was a film with some very obvious flaws.

It started out with the let me tell you a story form of narration that rarely works. That type of narration is often a very weak way to begin and end a film. It removes you emotionally from the primary characters in the story.

Also, My All American decided to put their weakest actors at the very beginning, a big no-no in my opinion. The first scene taking place in Coach Royal’s office was awkward and a weak way to launch the movie.

The timeline went to work telling the story of one of Coach Royal’s former players, Freddie Steinmark, from his childhood to college days. We saw glimpses of his childhood, high school years, his sweetheart Linda, and his hard-worked-for football scholarship to college. We were then shown the first few years of his college football career.

All of these events felt rushed. Passage of time was not clearly marked, it all blurred together. I kept thinking it was just me, that somehow my brain was blocking important details with the what, where, when, why, and how of Freddie’s life. But then the  others watching the film with me confirmed that they were also lost.

A few details and reactions to personal events in the lives of characters surrounding Freddie were also unexplained. They just happened.

The film did not gain traction until the last 3rd, when it finally grounded itself in specific times, dates, and events happening chronologically. The focus of the film zeroed in more on Freddie’s personal struggles, how they affected him and those around him. The film wrapped up with an end to Freddie’s story, capped by another weak scene in Coach Royal’s office.

And yet, when the credits started rolling, I was swallowing the lump in my throat. Despite everything that had been done “wrong” in this film, it was successful in the most important way. And why is that? Because….

….by the time the credits rolled on My All American, knew who Freddie Steinmark was.

A weak beginning, poor time passage, and loose details? In the end, none of that mattered. From his first appearance on the screen until his last, we were given a clear picture of who Freddie Steinmark was, even if the other details surrounding his story were foggy.

Freddie Steinmark was a brave little man. He worked hard, complained little, loved deeply, and never gave up. He was a man of faith and a faithful man. He inspired those around him with his fierce spirit and sincerity. He was confident and humble. His very existence pushed those who came in contact with him to strive to better themselves.

My All American was a film made to honor and respect Freddie Steinmark. It was a film made to introduce you to this extraordinary human being. And while they “technically” failed on many counts, they succeeded in their most important goal. We now know who Freddie Steinmark is, and we are better for it.

My All American, a flawed film that succeeded where it really mattered.

*****

I was inspired both by Freddie Steinmark, and by this film itself. It is encouraging to me to think about the concept of something imperfect still coming through where it really matters. This happened, I believe, because the makers of My All American kept their eyes on their priority and stuck to it. They knew what mattered the most to them and didn’t allow other things to get in the way of that priority.

This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement, perhaps if the makers of My All American had to do this film again they would change some things. But that’s life, isn’t it? You do the best you can with where you are at, and you try your hardest to succeed. Some things you fail, and in other things you do well.

Freddie Steinmark inspired and encouraged me. And this movie itself inspires me to stay focused on the things that truly matter to me, even as I do my best to succeed in everything. I want people to be able to look at my life and know who I am, and I want them to see that while I failed regularly, I succeeded in the things that mattered the most.

May I encourage you to think about the people and things that matter the most? May I encourage you to keep going even after you fail, or are faced with difficulty? May I encourage you to choose to focus on what will have a positive, lasting impact on your life?

Bless you all this Christmas season. The celebration this time of the year is a gift, one that I pray you may find and engage. Merry Christmas!

 

Character Details: Disney Princesses and Prince Caspian

Detail work is vital when it comes to creating a full character. We may not instantly take in every single detail about someone when we see them on screen, or meet a person in real life. But let me tell you, we WOULD notice if those “unnoticeable” little details were gone.

Detail work can happen on a character’s person or in their surroundings, like Wanda Maximoff’s bedroom in Civil WarThat setting gave us a very personal look into the who of Wanda, without us even realizing it at first. Without the careful attention to detail in that scene, we would have known so much less about this mysterious character.

Today I want to talk about personal details about the character’s physical appearance. These small things in how they look, sound, or appear, are in fact HUGE when it comes to telling us about this character. Who they are, where they are from, how they feel, and what they want.

Here are 2 examples of details. The first one is a detail that has been done well and added to the character. And the second is a detail that was handled poorly and it detracted from the character.

1. Disney Princesses and their big eyes.

Ever noticed how HUGE Disney Princesses’ eyes are? It’s become something that even Disney fans are pointing out as rather ridiculous, especially considering that our latest princesses Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa have the hugest eyes of all. Right?

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I mean, take a look at above slideshow of Disney princesses. The eyes have only grown more disproportionate over the decades, even though you would think they would get more realistic. What’s with that?

Obviously huge eyes are beautiful. But some fans have complained that these beautiful princesses with their impossibly huge eyes and tiny waists have created an unrealistic image for little girls everywhere. It is quite true that Disney does not create the most realistic looking characters. But what if that was done entirely on purpose?

The eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes are the most important feature on a character to portray what happens in that character’s heart. Squinty eyes = villain. Sad eyes = someone who has suffered. Huge eyes = a person feels trapped, or they are searching for something.

What are the 2 things most Disney princesses have in common? They feel trapped. Trapped by an evil stepmother, trapped under the sea, trapped in a marriage custom, trapped in a little French provincial town, trapped by societal bounds, and trapped in a tower/castle and cut off from the whole world.

Or, they are searching for something. Searching for freedom, adventure, love, safety, truth, floating lights, peace, etc.

Yes, I can now see why especially Rapunzel and the Frozen sisters have impossibly huge eyes. Their lives have been so incredibly isolated, they have been cut off from the world and human interaction and they are desperate to find freedom and love. You can see it in their eyes.

Those who have been drawing or animating stories that are more geared toward children have been using visual clues to communicate more subtle messages and understanding for centuries. And children have been picking up on those details for centuries. I guess the big-eyed Disney Princess is starting to make more sense now. It’s not just an impossible standard of beauty, it’s a clue into these girls’ souls.

A detail that we have often passed off as ridiculous now seems rather vital.

*I have no good explanation for the tiny waists. I am with the thousands of other fans who are ready for realistic portrayals of both men and women in both animated and live action films.

2. Prince Caspian and his changing accent.

What? What in the world am I talking about?

Honestly, not many people have noticed this until I mentioned it to them. It may seem like it should be an easily overlooked detail, but hear me out.

In Prince Caspian Caspian spoke with a Spanish accent like the rest of his Telmarine people. This gave them a distinctly different flavor from the Pevensies, our classic heroes and monarchs who had British accents. The majority of the Narnian creatures also spoke with a British accent.

Listen closely to the difference in Caspian’s accent and the accents of those around him.

Caspian’s accent in that film made him stand out from the other main characters and gave his character even more of an outsider complex. It was a small detail that gave us tons of information about his backstory and culture vs. that of the Narnians or the Pevensies. I found it to be a very unique and charming aspect of his character that I enjoyed a lot.

However, something strange happens in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Caspian has over the course of just three years suddenly developed a British accent.

When did that happen? Typically, if you have been raised up to adulthood with one way of speaking, you tend to keep using that accent for the rest of your life, even if it may soften over time.

Caspian was a young man when he became king of Narnia. He was old enough that his Spanish accent should have remain entrenched, even if he picked up a few new things from those around him speaking with British accents.

The character of Caspian in TVOTDT has grown and matured since PC, he is a confident and capable leader. But he is still Caspian.

The creative choice to change this single, but very important detail of Caspian’s character was a bad one in my opinion. It robbed Caspian’s character of a very rich and intriguing layer and instead made him fade into the woodwork of the British-sounding cast instead of standing out as someone unique.

It created mental confusion and stole attention from his unique character, instead of adding to it. This was a detail that was poorly handled and hurt both the character and the authenticity of the story.

*****

Stories are made of up of thousands of details. Characters are created with a few big things, and a whole lot of details. The greatest characters have been given careful attention by their creators, folks who used details to their advantage.

What are some tiny things you have noticed that have made a big difference in characters? I’d love to hear from you, so please, share your thoughts with me.

Also, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I feel delight when I imagine the millions of people who will be doing the same thing this Thursday. Gathering in a common purpose for food, family, and thankfulness. May we never take these beautiful things for granted, may we never take those we love for granted. May we enjoy this day in which so many peoples’ stories are engaged upon the same moment, a shared experience. God bless you all!

 

 

 

4 Commercials That Use Story to Sell

Commercials can get so run-of-the-mill, am I right?

Car commercials come in 3 categories. #singleandhot #flannelandrugged #puppyandkidsinacarseat

Then there are cosmetic commercials where women of impossible and unrealistic heights of “attractiveness” tell us about how great this makeup remover is (it can’t be that great because we all know they are still wearing makeup).

The drink commercials where we watch people’s Adam’s apples go up and down, and then they smile stupidly.

The teeth whitening commercials where actors with florescent white teeth complain about “yellowness” and “stains”.

Prescription drug commercials with laughably long lists of side affects such as turning into a T-Rex, randomly being transported to the Bermuda Triangle, and or death. If you or a loved one has died then here is the number to call to get in on the lawsuit.

Obviously there are exceptions to these. Geico can make a regular TV series or film as far as I am concerned, I would watch it. Jake from State Farm is more famous than some Founding Fathers. I adore Flo from Progressive, I love Farmer’s Insurance Commercials, and Lily for AT&T is adorable. Still, these ARE the exceptions to the millions of mind-numbing and annoying commercials that choke up our favorite TV shows.

However, I have found a few gems that really touched my heart and actually made me want to purchase the product advertised. This is because instead of flashing bright colors, these are not actors (when I KNOW they are), or singing about narwhals, these commercials decided to use the power of story to reach my heart and tickle my imagination. And since story is the most powerful way to connect with a person, these commercials were incredibly effective.

Here are a few of the best ones, enjoy.

1. Rock, Paper, Scissors (Android)

This is so incredibly cute and clever, it just tickles me!

2. A Love Story (Chipotle)

Life lessons on what really matters.

3. Best Buds (Budweiser)

Who else cried?

4. Lonely Pony (Amazon Prime)

This girl is me if I had a pony.

Using the power of story to sell, how can I get annoyed with that ad when I am wiping away tears?

Have you found any amazing commercials that touched your heart? Made you laugh? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

The Racially Diverse Movie that Wasn’t About Race: The Magnificent Seven

Remember the movie headlines and trending topics when the casting info came out about Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven?

ATOINE FUQUA’S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN TO BE A RACIALLY DIVERSE CAST

And on, and on, and on. And many of us rolled our eyes. Why? Because, we are tired of hearing about race. We are tired of hearing about racially driven violence, lost lives, and people being blamed, both black and white, for actions and events they had nothing to do with.

I’m sick of the word “race” altogether. There is no such thing as “races”, that is a term that has stemmed from an evolutionary mindset where scientists once believed that some “races” were more evolved than others. We know that to be a lie, so why are we still using the false terminology?

In truth, there is only one race, and that is the human race. That encompasses every tribe, every nation, every color, every beating human heart. We are all members of one human race, created in the Image of God.

I came out of the The Magnificent Seven a few days ago positively thrilled. It was a perfectly delicious film, for many reasons. But one reason in particular was worthy of a post. And that reason was….

The Magnificent Seven was a movie starring a diverse cast that was never about race, it was actually about the real issue: human nature.

Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) was an incredibly skilled man who carried himself with modesty and intelligence. He obviously had the ability to hate, but what was even more evident was his ability to forgive and move on. Sam’s obvious respect and friendship with Goodnight (a sharpshooter who fought for the Confederacy) was the evidence of that.

“What we lost in the fire we’ll find in the ashes.” Sam to Goodnight

Goodnight (Ethan Hawke) was legendary for his sharpshooting abilities. He had 23 confirmed kills during the war. And he was a haunted man with a severe case of PTSD. Goodnight hated thinking about all of the faces of the ones he had killed, even though it had been during a war. He has a hard time forgiving himself and moving on. As I said above, Sam holds no malice for this man. Sam isn’t a black man who sees a white man, he is a man who sees a man. And by his judgment, Sam holds this particular man in respect and high esteem, respect that Goodnight reciprocates.

Goodnight displays this kind of colorblindness in his friendship with Billy (Byung-hun Lee). Billy more than any other member of the Seven is mentioned as having faced prejudice because of his ethnic background. Still, Billy doesn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder. He just lives his life. Goodnight couldn’t care less what color Billy is, he values Billy’s skills and it is obvious that these two are deeply in tune with each others’ needs. Billy is as protective over Goodnight’s vulnerabilities as Goodnight is protective over the prejudices surrounding Billy. They are brothers from another mother.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) is a Comanche Indian who is something of an outcast even among his own tribe. Red Harvest is “on a different path”. Red Harvest offers his services to the Seven without a second thought, even though on the outside he appears to have very little in common with them. Red Harvest is a stark contrast to the Indian thug, Denali, on Bogue’s side, the man who murders an unarmed woman in cold blood.

“You are a disgrace.” Red Harvest tells the fellow Indian in a confrontation.

This was a beautiful portrayal of the reality that good people are not determined by their color, but their hearts and actions.

Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) has spent years hunting and scalping Indians. In a brief reference to his backstory, you get the impression that perhaps it was Indians who were responsible for the death of his family. However, Jack’s past experience does not keep him from joining forces with Red Harvest. Jack even laughingly mentions to the boy, “We have a lot to talk about.” He sees the man, not the color, and he finds the man worthy.

Vasquez (Manuel-Garcia Rulfo) is a Mexican man. There is some lighthearted banter between him and companions Faraday and Goodnight. Faraday consistently teases Vasquez about his Spanish words, and Goodnight and Vasquez have a conversation about their grandfathers being on opposing sides at the Alamo.

“Perhaps my grandfather killed your grandfather.” Vasquez

*laughs* Goodnight

Vasquez develops a playful friendship with the Seven, particularly Faraday. He puts forth an amazing effort in the battle against Bogue, and shows great concern for his companions and those they are defending.

Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) is the biggest tease when it comes to anyone’s color. But it is obvious that none of that means a lick to him when he gets down to business. His admiration for these other men’s skills is obvious, and he willingly fights alongside them to defend the townspeople. He sees that each of them carry their own scars, and he understands that because he carries his own.

This movie was about humans, of all colors and backgrounds, and the choices they made out of their human nature, for good or evil. Bogue and his thugs acted out of greed, lust, evil, and a desire to prey upon the weak.

The Seven have made many wrong choices in their past. Each one is running from his own demons. But here and now, they are joined together in one purpose, to resist evil. They choose to walk out righteousness, protection, and to defend life. This movie wasn’t about the evil white man, or the evil black man, this is the about the evil manwho is opposed by other men who are choosing to stand up for good. In doing so they form a brotherhood born out of common purpose.

This is how it should be. This is the truth. Our battle is not between black and white, red and yellow, or any other color in between. Our battle is against evil, in any form or color.

Antoine Fuqua used his beautifully colorful cast to bring this point across. His characters were colorblind in both their grudges and their friendships. This perspective enabled them to unite. They were so powerful in fact, that seven men defeated a small army.

This is what can happen when we toss aside the false concept of race, and unite to fight the true battle that is against evil. We can all take a cue from the Seven.

The potential results from such a unity can only be thought of as magnificent.

 

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