In The dumbing down of America
. . . Neal Boortz talks about why he believes that
One thing is for certain, as the ranks of the clueless increase, as more and more Americans opt for security over freedom, as more people surrender their individuality for the ease of running with the mob, the erosion of the liberties, social and economic, that made this country what it is will proceed apace.
While I don’t entirely agree with his conclusions, it’s hard to ignore the huge importance many people place on entertainment over substance. For instance, it never ceases to amaze me that the movies of Oliver Stone and Michael Moore are regarded as factual. Or that actors are taken seriously when talking nonsense about environmental issues raised by movies based on stories written by men who want you to believe they were abducted by UFOs. Or how, if you go by the hype, how sandal-and-toga overbudgeted popcorn movies are taken seriously, when actually the latest one’s wearing sneakers
The New York Times movie reviewer A. O. Scott is wrong on a key point: yes, wars are political events (in terms of their organization and use), but Homer’s main message is that the costs are very personal and always tragic: Hector must die, and so must Achilles eventually, and despite all their glory, there are still the wives, parents, and children who must endure this worst blow a family can suffer. The funeral of Hector in Iliad 24 was not the equivalent of an Olympic torch-lighting ceremony, as depicted in the film; it was both political and familial. The fact that the women in the movie (Briseis replacing Hecuba as part of the troika) do not speak their moving eulogies over the dead body of Hector drains most of the Homeric humanity out of the scene. And by virtually removing the squabbling gods, the scriptwriter David Benioff lost Homer’s key point of contrast: how noble humans can be, both in war and peace, because their choices do have tragic consequences, unlike those of the immortals, who rarely seem to pay any price at all
Read, learn, and never stop learning.
PS, Here is Samuel Butler’s translation of Homer’s Iliad. You can even listen to the abridged version of the Fagles translation if you want.