Our Culture of Hate

For the past month, I’ve been unable to get out of my mind a column I recently read in World magazine by Andrée Seu Peterson called Being in Hate. She contrasts our well-known emotional state of “being in love” with “being in hate.” In particular, she said this:

“People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity.”

hateHer final paragraph references America’s current political state as hate-driven. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and realized it’s not just our political state, but our culture. We think of the KKK and other white supremacists as the worst of the worst, as they proved in Charlottesville a few weeks ago. However, whether it’s President Trump, the LGBT community, Evangelicals, Black Lives Matter, the NRA, college students, or the ACLU (to name just a few), most rhetoric pours out as hate speech. Usually, those speaking (and their supporters) don’t hear the hate, and sometimes even claim their words are meant in love.

Our president, with his unfiltered tweets, is possibly the worst individual offender outside of true hate groups (such as the KKK) I’ve ever seen. The snobbish attitude among our leaders in the Democrat Party towards voters who supported Trump, however, is just as wicked. Those who compare Trump to Hitler and Evangelicals to the KKK are more hate-filled than Trump himself. The same goes for those who claimed President Obama was the Antichrist and LGBT supporters are equivalent to Nazis. (For the record, I find all of these comparisons to be deplorable.)

colin_kaepernick_vet_protest_apOur reaction to the Colin Kaepernick saga is a perfect example. The venomous hatred spewed against him (and other athletes who have followed suit) is horrific. When I mention Colin’s name to those who are perfectly rational in most circumstances, spit flies and hate creases their face. On the other side, however, are his supporters who grow just as livid and irrational about his supposed blacklisting by the NFL. There’s no possible middle ground, no chance that his monetary demands are too great for his skill level. No, they demand it’s a conspiracy.

I understand both sides, because both sides have valid points. What I see, however, is a microcosm of America’s current culture of “being in hate.” There’s no rational dialogue, no allowance for the other side, no willingness to listen. It’s no longer just “my way or the highway.” It’s become “If you disagree with my viewpoint, you’re a racist bigot who hates (fill in the blank–it’s your worldview).”

Today, every side name calls. Read editorials on MSNBC or Fox News. Sure, they can make a few rational points, but most of those points–if not all–are nothing more than carefully couched insults that barely hide the disgust the writer holds for those of an opposing viewpoint. Follow that up by reading the comments to articles. Talk about hate! It doesn’t matter if the poster is right- or left-wing.  If those are too vicious for your stomach to handle, go to ESPN and read the nasty comments between fans. It doesn’t get any better.

I’m not claiming to be above this. I’ve been just as guilty in the past and I continue to fall into that trap today (especially when confronted with idiot drivers! LOL!) and probably will do so until I die. What I am trying to change is my heart. I am trying to love Republicans and Democrats (I am neither), evangelicals and atheists, the NRA and the ACLU. I’ve found that when I know someone personally from a particular group, I can no longer make the blanket claim that everyone from that crowd is wicked and heartless. If I do, I am in a state of hate. To be in a state of love–that is, love for my fellow person–I cannot succumb to the temptation to lash out at those with different worldviews. I need to listen and care.

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10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #1

10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #1
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1. Gollum’s Dual Personality Scene. This was the easiest choice for me. I thought the gollumscene was great in the movie and was amazed at how well the animators had captured both the Smeagol (good Gollum) and the Gollum (evil) sides of the villain’s character. Once the DVD came out and I got to see how motion capture was used and understood the animators were simply transforming Andy Serkis’ performance, I realized why there had been a push to nominate Mr. Serkis for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. His performance is phenomenal.

Of course, the scene is not merely a marvelous feat of motion capture/animation, but one of the most moving scenes in the entire trilogy. Smeagol’s victory over his evil persona is a satisfying triumph for the viewer, and sets up his tragic fall when Frodo fails to protect him. Without this scene, Gollum remains a pathetic, spiteful creature. With it, he becomes the empathetic villain Lord of the Rings otherwise lacks, and thus provides a far greater depth to the story.

Most interestingly, this scene–as it is written–exists only in the movie, not in the book. Tolkien certainly hinted at Gollum’s schizophrenia, but it took the writers, the animators, and especially Andy Serkis to bring it to life. This brief video shows a side-by-side clip.

For more on how Andy Serkis and Weta Digital created Gollum, watch this video.

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10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #2

10 Best Scenes from Lord of the Rings: #2
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2. “I am no man!” Even as a 14-year-old boy reading Lord of the Rings the first time, Eowyn’s cry as she delivers the death blow to the Witch King eowyn.gifwas my favorite line of the series. To see it recreated so well—especially Miranda Otto’s perfect delivery—made me cheer out loud in the theater. Tolkien loved the underdog (or understood how much readers identify with the underdog) and Eowyn’s side story as the princess who wanted to be a warrior is a great compliment to the little hobbit who overthrew a seemingly invincible tyrant.

The video includes the entire scene from the Witch King mortally wounding Theoden to Merry wounding the Witch King to Aragorn killing Gothmog. It does not include Theoden’s death scene.

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10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #3

10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #3
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rohirrim3. Theoden and Gandalf leading the Rohirrim at Helm’s Deep. The two rides, as a pincer movement, are possibly my favorite war scene ever. Gandalf and Eomer’s appearance atop the crest just as the sun rises is The Two Tower’s most iconic moment, and their charge down the hill and leaping into the orcs’ spears is glorious. Just as impressive, although often overlooked, is Theoden and Aragorn’s charge out of the citadel and down the rampart, sweeping orcs aside. After the desperation of the previous night’s hopeless battle, one cannot help but cheer as sure defeat turns into unexpected victory.

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10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #5

10 Best Scenes From Lord of the Rings: #5
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5. Gandalf freeing Theoden from Saruman’s control. There are several things I love in lrIw15i.gifthis scene, but I especially love it first and foremost as a fantastic use of magic simply as a battle of minds between Gandalf and Saruman.

Other highlights include the reveal of Gandalf, as seen here, Wormtongue complaining about Gandalf having his staff (I find it darkly humorous), Wormtongue’s whispering in Theoden’s ear (actually, Brad Dourif is such an excellent actor, he can steal a scene even from Ian McKellan!), the look of shock and/or surprise on Christopher Lee’s face when Saruman is defeated, and Bernard Hill’s moments of regaining his sanity. This is one of those scenes I’ve watched three or four times in a row to relish both the story and the actors’ performances, much like hitting replay when I hear a song I really enjoy.

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