promises are kept

thoughts from the mind of Mitch Brown

Month: September, 2012

Two Must See Cult Classic Movies

Ilsa She Wolf of the SS (1975)

This movie stands as one of the barometers which other films of the “Nazispoltation” sub-genre are measured by. A lot of people are confused when I tell them the movie has nothing to do with werewolves. Is it a horror movie? Well kind of-sort of , actually, no. It’s a classic 70s exploitation movie that is heavy on the s&m, and in that respect, one could say it’s similar to Bloodsucking Freaks, though not as gory. In his book Profoundly Disturbing, Joe Bob Briggs, placed the movie in a category alongside Bloodsucking Freaks and I Spit On Your Grave. The movie was actually shot on the left-over set of Hogan’s Heroes, which had laid unused since the show went off the air.

What you need to know about the plot: Ilsa is a Nazi medical scientist who has this idea that women would make better soldiers than men because she thinks they have a higher pain tolerance, so she decides to test her theory by subjecting female prisoners to various types of torture. She also castrates men after fucking them. The movie stars Dyanne Thorne, a former Las Vegas show girl. Ilsa She Wolf Of The SS is notable because it’s one of the finest examples of  shoe-string movie making, with the absolute best example being the Evil Dead. The best B-movies were done on the most limited of budgets, but still turned out a quality product.

Combat Shock(1986)

Combat Shock is a Troma movie that is not the typical Troma movie. If you want to know what the typical Troma movie is look to the studio’s flagship film–the Toxic Avenger, which is a mixture of slapstick and gore. Troma has produced a massive amount of low-budget fair throughout the years, and the company doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Combat Shock, on the other hand, is a deadly serious movie. Words like grim and bleak perfectly sums up the tone of the movie. It’s the most nihilistic movie I’ve seen this side of Cannibal Holocaust. Combat Shock captures such an intense feeling of desperation and despair. The main character of the movie, Frankie, is a Vietnam Vet. His life is in shambles. He’s unemployed, he’s surrounded by urban blight, his best friend is a junkie, and to top it all off, he owes a criminal kingpin named Paco money.

After an  intense flashback, we are introduced to a post-Vietnam Frankie, his decrepit apartment, his fat nagging wife, and his baby that was born mutated due to Frankie’s exposure to Agent Orange in the war. It really doesn’t get any bleaker than this. Oh yeah; it’s on the day he’s being evicted. So much of the movie has a cinema verite’ realism, told in the form of just another day in the life. Looking at the trailer and the original movie poster, you could get the idea that Combat Shock might be just another typical, generic low-budget action movie, but it’s really a character driven movie. The only scenes of really intense gore and gunplay are at the start and end of the movie.

How does the movie end you ask? Frankie guns down Paco and his goon squad, returns home kills his wife and mutated child, then finally turns the gun on himself and commits suicide. The last few frames of the movie are glorious, as Frankie’s face slips down a blood-splattered door, then the scene fades to a shot of a subway train, accompanied by a voice over of Frankie saying ” I go back there every night.” The viewer is left with the impression that what has transpired was a direct byproduct of Frankie’s past.


Convergence A Part Of The Changing Face Of Journalism

Convergence a part of the changing face of journalism

by MITCHELL BROWN, Muleskinner

As a new semester at Central begins, I find myself thinking about the amount of changes I’ve witnessed while here.

One university president left, and a new one took office; a new student recreation center was built; and the major I chose, journalism, was phased out, but those enrolled prior to the discontinuation of the program will still graduate with a degree in journalism.

In 2010, a few other majors were discontinued or amalgamated into a new major, which is what happened with journalism courses. Many of the courses that were part of the journalism program will now go towards the new Digital Media Production major, which combines journalistic writing with video editing and production, etc.

Proponents of the new major said it would enable journalists to be better equipped in a changing field, a field in which convergence is the new name of the game. Convergence is the process of combining divergent media into one body. It’s the reason why the modern journalist should be more versatile. In today’s industry, a journalist who started out working in print might also end up shooting video footage.

The practice of journalism will not disappear. As a glut of information exists in an unregulated format online, reporters are needed to sift through that information. I’m not at all worried about the changing face of journalism. I fully accept the challenge and am actually excited about it. Maybe the transition going on within journalism will act as a form of natural selection, and the best and brightest in the field could create an increased standard of excellence for modern journalism.

A human element exists with convergence. Convergence involves working across interdisciplinary lines. Last fall, I was working with a group of broadcast media students as on air talent for a news magazine show we had created called Central Talk, with the hope of having a strong online presence. I had no prior experience in front of the camera, but I figured I would take a chance. As fun as the experience was, it didn’t last.

As finals drew closer, one of the main students behind the show said he wouldn’t have time to edit any more footage. After only two episodes, the show came to an end. But during that brief period of time, I learned a valuable lesson about what can be created when students from different majors work together.

I don’t see why inter-major cooperation has to end there; it could easily be transferred to this publication. The more students who are involved, the more diverse the content becomes, which could lead to more students reading and contributing to the Muleskinner.

One of the aims of the journalist should be to capture the diversity of the human experience. Such a goal can more easily be met if you have a diverse staff working on a publication. I’m not only a journalism major; I’m also a history major. With a lot of the columns and news stories I write, I like to bring a historical perspective to them. I’m sure, somewhere there is a science major with a knack for writing who would be equipped to cover stories pertaining to the sciences, or a music major who could apply his or her knowledge to stories about musical events.

The ability to capture diverse story content lies within a diverse student population, and a more panoramic view could come into existence by building more bridges between majors.


A Few Words On Tribalism, Commonalty, And The Leviathan

I’m overjoyed when I find a well-matched proverbial sparring partner on serious, relevant issues. I’m not the type of person to shy away from a conversation with someone who has an opposing view. It’s something I actually enjoy, nor will I become upset or overly-emotional during such a conversation. I think whatever stance someone takes, they have an obligation to defend said position. When I encounter someone who isn’t able to, I start to suspect that that person’s point of view, opinion, or ideology is built on shaky ground, or they’ve taken a stance because it’s a popular trend, and there is no real meat behind his or her stance.

In a fellow student named Sean, I think I have found a decent proverbial sparring partner, as we hold radially different world views, and neither of us will shy away from speaking our minds. In our feature writing class, a few weeks ago the issue of tribalism and commonalty came up.

We of course have limited time in class to discuss such a weighty matter, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about and could go into further depth about. The conversation started out about the issue of students selecting roommates based on profiles on social media sites. Sean was against it because he said it could lead to people not learning how to better interact with people different from themselves, and some could never leave a selected comfort zone.

My response was that that’s something that happens in the “real world” and is simply being transferred to online communities. The internet is not the cause for social stratification. I then elaborated and presented my perspective, one in which a bond is based on commonalty: when you find increased, commonalty, you have an increased chance for the building of bonds. When you have diminished commonalty, you have a lessened probability of bonds being forged. To a certain extent, everyone sticks with their own kind, however you wish to define that, and it can be defined on multiple levels. For some, it could be an issue as superficial as skin color. But it could also be that having the same major in college is enough to form some type of minor bond. ( I speak form experience on that one)

Sean said what I was advocating lent itself to tribalism. I said that whether you are comfortable with it or not, tribalism is still in effect. It’s not something relegated to ancient societies of yore. The reason why St. Patrick’s Day means something more to someone of Irish lineage than it does to me is due to tribalism. Nationalism/patriotism stems from tribalism. When you go to a ball game and rise for the singing of the national anthem, you are participating in a form of tribalism. The idea of the American experience is supposedly one of multiculturalism, the notion of the melting pot, but just because you have a diverse population in the same area doesn’t mean that a tribal identity is automatically washed away. An Irishman who emigrates to America doesn’t all of sudden stop being Irish because of his change of location. By birth, he is still connected to the Celtic tribe.

Sean said that if we still had a tribal society, we would not have a civilized society. I didn’t get to raise my rebuttal in class, but my rebuttal is that tribal division does not always lead to tribal warfare. You can also have cooperation among varying tribes.

Coinciding perfectly with the conversation is a book I’m currently reading entitled “The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Had Declined.” by Steven Pinker. Some might scoff at the title in light of modern violence. But it really makes so much sense when you dig into the book. Pinker’s thesis is that even in light of modern violence, our world today is for less dangerous, on a unilateral level, than it was during the days of the brutality of Roman gladiators, or when Genghis Khan and the Mongols laid waste to Central Asia, or the time of torture devices in medieval Europe. Part of his thesis is that that was a more violent era, in that a larger swath of the population were universally affected by a greater level of barbarity than today. Pinker backs up his claim with historical, mathematical, and statistical evidence. He also focuses on how empathy and human rights movements spread to how much of the violence of the ancient world was partially a result of a stateless society.

The latter claim would be in line with what Thomas Hobbes wrote in “the Leviathan.” Hobbes’ view of human nature was that if man is left in his natural, unfettered state, he will resort to “the war of all verses all.” Hobbes’ remedy to man’s own nature is the creation of the Leviathan, a centralized government. The Leviathan restricts and controls man’s own nature, a form of subduing the id. The Leviathan eradicates the stateless society, but it doesn’t eradicate tribalism. For that to happen we would have to live in a society that would resemble the Borg from Star Trek.

A Recent Article I Did About An On Campus Debate About Chick-fil-A

Talking Mules exhibition focuses on Chik-fil-A

Story by MITCHELL Brown, for The Muleskinner

One hot button issue of the summer was a controversy concerning Chick-fil-A.

Things started to heat up in July when Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said that those in favor of same sex marriage are part of a “prideful” and “arrogant” generation.

In the Baptist Press, he declared he was “guilty as charged” on being opposed to same sex marriage.

The controversy continued as some people opposed to Chick-fil-A organized protests and boycotts.

Although the Chick-fil-A controversy has simmered to a silence in the national media, the discussion was reignited at Central during an exhibition debate put on by UCM’s Talking Mules debate team on Sep 6. in the Union.

The topic of the debate was whether or not UCM should abandon Chick-fil-A.

Adam Blood, graduate assistant and coach for the Talking Mules, said that although media attention on the topic has waned, it’s still likely to be fresh in students’ minds.

Two teams were present to give a pro and con side on the issue, the government team, arguing in favor of the motion to abandon Chick-fil-A, and the opposition team, arguing against UCM abandoning Chick-fil-A.

Arguing for the government team were Adam Blood, Micah Chrisman and Ryan Michael. The opposition team was comprised of Shea Holland, Derek Pritchett, and Matt Gilmore.

As the opening round of the debate got started, Chrisman said that his team’s opposition to Chik-fil-A is not an attack on free speech.

He presented reasons for UCM abandoning Chick-fil-A. The first being that Chick-fil-A supports what he called “divisive” groups opposed to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender ) community.

Chrisman said such a stance runs counter to UCM maintaining a diverse culture.

Audience member David Rogers, freshman political science major, took a stance contrary to Chrismans’.

“The issue of diversity is to represent all groups equally,” Rogers said. “If you are going to make an argument for one side, you also have to make the argument from the other side.”

Blood said that diversity is not just a matter of the presence of demographic representation and that diversity is found in the presence of respect. “ Respect is the precursor for diversity,” Blood said.

Along with matters of diversity and free speech, another source of contention is where Chick-fil-A donates a portion of its profits.

Chrisman noted that it has been documented that from 2003-2010, Chick-fil-A gave an estimated $5 million to groups that are considered to be anti-LGBT, including Focus On The Family, Exodus International and the Family Research Council, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We must recognize that they support these organizations,” Chrisman said.

Matt Gilmore, of the opposition team, said that Chick-fil-A has also donated to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“This is in no way, shape or form a hate group,” Gilmore said. Blood responded to Gilmore’s statement by saying, “We are not going to ignore the evil because you do a large amount of other charitable contributions. Chick-fil-A should be judged by the company they are keeping.”

After the debate, the (hypothetical) resolution to abandon Chick-fil-A was put to an audience vote, in which it was defeated.

An exhibition debate is put on once a month by the Talking Mules. Rennels said the debates are a way to spark dialogue and hear multiple sides of an issue.

“We need to hear from everybody on campus,” Rennels said. “People need to have a venue to express their thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.”