troll

Why Trolls Was the Perfect Movie to See on Election Night

I don’t know about you, but I had absolutely no desire to be in the world while election results were coming in on Nov 8. So instead, I went to my favorite “escape from the world” place: a movie theater. A friend and I decided on Trolls. An hour and a half of bright colors and rousing musical numbers just seemed like a good idea before finding out who gets to screw up the country over the next four years.

Trolls was actually a pleasant surprise though. It wasn’t just good in a fun kids movie sort of way, it actually made me realize some important things I needed to remember as my country becomes as divided as I’ve ever seen it. [Spoilers below].trolls

Lesson 1: We can still be happy without shitting on other people

The antagonists of this movie are the Bergens, unhappy creatures that believe the only way to be happy is to eat the trolls. What makes the dynamic of Bergentown especially interesting is that any Bergen under the age of 20, including the king of Bergentown, has never actually tasted a troll, as the trolls escaped captivity 20 years before the primary plot arc of the film. So your primary villain isn’t someone who is just straight up evil, it’s someone who has been socialized to believe a lie, and that belief inspires him to do evil things. The movie isn’t a story of good triumphing over evil, it’s a story of good teaching evil the error in their ways.

Unlike some, I personally do not believe all Trump supporters are just straight up evil. I do however, believe many view the world as a false dichotomy. They have trouble seeing how immigrants and native-born citizens can live in peace and even benefit from each other’s presence, and instead believe one group can only benefit at the expense of the other. They believe that the rights of Americans are more important than the rights of people born elsewhere, even though such people are equally human. And I think for many, those beliefs were instilled in them at a young age. They voted for Trump not because they’re just terrible human beings that Satan sent to destroy America, but because they genuinely believe that was the only way to restore their own prosperity after other systems have failed them. Sad!

Trolls is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be “us vs. them” even when the world around us constantly tells us that it is. There are ways to be happy and successful without infringing on the rights of others. (more…)

amaprim

What is a Pilot Season and Why Should You Care?

An Amazon Prime subscription is a bit like a closet with too many clothes in it: every once in awhile you discover some new thing you forgot you paid for and are pleasantly surprised by it. Among these things is a video streaming service that features a variety of tv and movies, including some originals. There’s also a nifty thing called a pilot season. Viewers can watch a bunch of different pilots, fill out a survey, and Amazon uses the info to determine which ones will become a full series. Essentially, Amazon has turned their entire subscriber pool into a focus group, a market innovation that gives us one more thing to love about the streaming economy.

m2_001_trans_1sht_V1.inddThe concept already has a few success stories to boast, most notably Transparent, which earned Amazon 10 of its 16 Emmy nominations this year, and it won five last year. The show’s lead, Jeffrey Tambor, not only won the 2015 Emmy for Best Lead Comedy Actor, but the equivalent titles at the SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards as well. (I would argue this show shouldn’t be competing in the “comedy” categories based on its content, but I won’t waste your time with that soapbox right now.) There’s also one of my new personal favorites, Mozart in the Jungle, which won the 2016 Golden Globes for Outstanding Comedy or Musical Series and Outstanding Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series. (Transparent was also nominated in both categories).

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Sexy Panties and Prison: What Orange is the New Black Can Teach Us About The Regulatory State

Orange is the New Black

Warning: The following post contains Orange is The New Black spoilers.

If you are a fan of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, you already know that far too much of Season 3 was spent telling the tale of Piper’s Prison Panties. As a fan of the show, I was a bit sad that the screen time invested in this plotline was not spent on some of the more interesting ones. But as a libertarian, I must say that the way this story concluded in Season 4 provides a great parable for how regulation hurts people in the real world.

Let’s start with a quick recap of what happened in Season 3: The fictional intimate apparel company Whispers made a deal with Litchfield Prison that allowed them to use inmates as cheap labor. As one of the inmates selected to sew the sexy underwear together, Piper figured out that by cutting the fabric differently, she could actually make more panties than what Whispers asked of her. This inspires a new business venture: wearing the surplus underwear for a few days and then selling them to people who are into that sort of thing. By the end of Season 3, Piper has established an entire supply chain: numerous inmates wear the underwear, a naive prison guard sneaks them out, and Piper’s brother sells them on the outside.
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Captain America: Civil War Review

So I finally got around to seeing one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Captain America: Civil War. In general, I’m not that into superhero movies, primarily because I find they’re often over-simplistic for my taste: These are the good guys. Those are the bad guys. Now watch them blow stuff up.

Luckily, Captain America: Civil War does not fall into that trap. There’s two opposing sides, but rather than a battle of good vs. evil, it’s a battle between two different interpretations of good. The conflict is introduced when the UN finally expresses discontent with the Avenger-caused destruction of previous Marvel movies, which is best summed up this way:

Oddly enough, I’ve seen the same meme used to describe U.S. foreign policy.


So the Avengers have a choice. Do they want to give the governments of the world increased control over their operations (#TeamIronMan) or continue to be as independent as they’ve always been, even if that makes them outlaws (#TeamCap)?
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hamilton

Hamilton Proves How Influential Culture Can Be

hamilton playbillIt comes as a surprise to no one that the broadway musical Hamilton is up for the Best New Musical Tony. In fact, I just typed that sentence without even checking the Tony nominations which were announced earlier this week. I just assumed it was true because the internet didn’t explode with outrage. It turns out Hamilton racked up a whomping 16 nominations, the most in broadway history. In fact, Hamilton has at least one nominee in every category the show is eligible for, and multiple nominees in the two best actor categories.

But award wins and nominations are only the beginning of Hamilton’s impressive feats. Many sources, including The New York Times, The LA Times and The Washington Post have given the musical at least partial credit for keeping Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. 

Many feminist groups have been asking for women on U.S. currency for some time. While they weren’t specifically asking to replace Hamilton, the U.S. treasury initially picked him because the $10 bill is the next one due for a redesign. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of Hamilton even met with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew personally regarding the matter.

Now the treasury has changed its mind. Hamilton will remain on the front of the $10 bill while the back will feature several women of the suffragette movement. Harriet Tubman will take Andrew Jackson’s place on the front of the 20, bumping Jackson to the back of the bill.

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“Eye in the Sky” is Drone Warfare Movie You’ve Been Waiting For

Eye in the Sky PosterWhen I first saw the trailers for Gavin Hibbert’s Eye in the Sky I almost expected to be disappointed. A movie exploring the intricate ethics of drone warfare with enough big names that people might actually see it? Surely that was too good to be true.

I’m pleased to report Eye in the Sky actually lived up to its outstanding trailer. It had the drama and suspense that one expects from a war movie without relying on unoriginal tropes of the genre. It also shows how you don’t have to shove libertarian messages down your audience’s throats to still have a libertarian movie.

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zootopia

How Zootopia Can Teach You And Your Kids About Liberty

I went to see Zootopia last week expecting a solid children’s movie. What I didn’t expect was arguably the most libertarian children’s movie in recent memory. Seriously, Ayn Rand could have written this thing. Zootopia can teach kids about all sorts of libertarian ideals, such as citizen accountability, skepticism of government officials, civil liberties, and the rejection of majority rule justification. 

We start with a relatively simple premise common in kid’s movies: our lead character has a dream that the world says will never come true. In this case, that lead character is a bunny, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who wants to be a police officer. A bunny has never been a police officer before, but Judy works hard and becomes the first one. What makes Zootopia somewhat unique is that it spends relatively little screen time telling us how that dream comes true. Instead, the movie focuses on all of Judy’s struggles after she becomes a cop and how sometimes dreams aren’t everything we thought they would be.

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