Friday, January 1, 2010

Invictus and nationalism

Today I went to see Invictus with the fam. My brother is heading back to the Y tomorrow so we went as a family--sans one of my rebellious brothers-- to watch Invictus. Andy, the brother who is leaving, is a big sports fan; so I assume we chose it partly because of his tastes.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. I thought Morgan Freeman did a great job portraying Nelson Mandela and the subject--overcoming racism-- is something that is always touching and inspiring. Although at times I thought the music was a bit saccharine and the last ten minutes of the crucial rugby match are all in slow motion. (10 minutes of slow motion grunting and growling gets a bit annoying).

I found my self slipping into collegiate literary analysis mode at times about the nationalistic themes in the film. Nationalism is basically the belief that a nation, whether it be the U.S., South Africa, or China, has some distinct characteristic which it is based upon. Oftentimes you see nationalist sentiment rears its head in the form of ethnic nationalism--e.g. Slavic Yougoslavia-- but it can also appear as civic nationalism such as the belief the Founding Fathers had about a nation where all men are created equal and so forth.

I have conflicted views of nationalism. I see the benefit that it has in establishing higher civic codes like with our Constitution (and Nelson Mandela's nationalism in the film). But I also dislike how often nationalism becomes something that divides us. I happen to think that a person is still a person whether they are born in America or China or even Canadia [sic]; and to create artificial boundaries because of borders is harmful to collaboration between peoples.

In American political discourse, it seems the right uses stronger nationalistic discourse. I am not a huge of fan of the 'Mericah, love it or leave it, statements. I prefer some form of collaboration with the rest of the world. But that is me.

However, (back to my original point), I really enjoyed Mandela's take on nationalism. Here Mandela had been elected as the president of South Africa after apartheid was overturned and blacks finally allowed the vote. Instead of retaliating eye for an eye, he took the higher ground. Inspired by a vision of South Africa where everyone was equal he refused to use political power and to strike back at the white minority who used to rule the black majority.

So in the words of Jesse Jackson (and now Harry Reid), my take home message is "can't we all just get along?"

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

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