going to the cinema

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I finally got round to going to the cinema on Sunday, for the first time in about three years. There was no competition in terms of film choice – I’d read too many articles declaring that 12 Years a Slave was the best film of all time. I knew to expect difficult scenes, but I’d forgotten how uncomfortable it is to sit in a state of high anxiety for two hours, and didn’t enjoy feeling sick and shielding my eyes when the violence became particularly disturbing.

I think I have a low threshold for violence in films. But of course in this film, in a true story, I don’t resent the discomfort as I would in a film designed for sheer entertainment. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen – the story is gripping, shocking and deserves to be told; the acting is flawless; the scenes are beautiful even when they’re horrific; and the haunting soundtrack is still following me around.Β I’ll never watch it again. It’ll join The Elephant Man and Dancer in the Dark as one of the best films I’ve seen that I never again want to experience.

And of course it makes me sad that even in a time of reasonable education and similar attitudes towards acceptable behaviour, something like slavery was so widespread in our not so extraordinary species. It makes me sadder that different types of slavery, although now publicly abhorred and fought against, are still rampant around the world. And it makes me furious that people can still believe that the Bible is the chosen text of a supernatural, ‘moral’ creator deity, and attempt to explain away the support it has always given for slavery, even when our basic evolved sense of acceptable treatment of fellow human beings had moved beyond this. It makes me sick that people are still attempting to use this same book to justify illogical and harmful attitudes towards their fellow human beings. Would slavery have been abolished earlier in the USA if there wasn’t a popular religious text declaring it’s an acceptable practice? Would gay marriage be accepted in all of the USA if there wasn’t a popular religious text declaring homosexual relations are evil? Would there have been a female president of the USA years ago if there wasn’t a popular religious text declaring that women should not hold positions of authority over men?

Believe in supernatural deities if it pleases you. But don’t use the Bible, or any other religious text, to justify your opinion on anything. Use evidence and common sense.

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