Svithing my way out of a funk


I am in a funk. Not a deep, inescapable funk --- more like a sandy hill that, when a silent moment passes, you find yourself at the bottom of again.

This weekend I watched American Me. A student brought it for me to watch, saying I had to because it's just so great. I expected some "fun" violence* but all I really saw there were some brutally simple shankings.

I'm not going to argue that American Me is not a good movie. It was. But it is depressing me to no end. And it looks like the Mexican Mafia wasn't too pleased with it either, which suggests to me that they saw it more in the way I did. (Allegedly, La eMe killed two of the film's consultants. But I haven't found a decent source for that, just a lot of repetition.)

There's nothing glorious or beautiful about this film. And there's nothing here that feels like exaggeration or lies. The horror of this film lies is how damn real it feels.

American Me spends most of its time in Fulsom Prison with the leader on the Inside of the Mexican Mafia. On the assumption that if you haven't seen the film you aren't going to, let me talk about the final sequence:

A family sadly watches the next generation getting sucked in to gang life, but as they watch the kid getting tattooed on the hand by his friends, they look at their own hands and see the identical tattoo.

A brother, on instructions from gang leadership, kills his beloved younger brother.

The films protagonist gets stabbed more times than Julius Caesar, by his 'friends.'

The newly tatted boy does some inhalants in the front seat of the car, then leans out the window and starts shooting into the random pedestrians on the street.

More and more.

It just gets uglier the more I remember it.

The main character gets out of prison and the first time he's with a woman he flips her over and anally rapes her because that's the only way he knows.

What kind of humanity is this?

I don't agree with people who say our world is as wicked as it ever was or ever will be. Look around --- the world is filled with charity and kindness. We're not sleeping on our swords.

But there are segments of our population that are sleeping on their swords, their shivs. There is evil in the world and it sucks in younger brothers and makes them stab someone in the throat while their watching Woody Woodpecker.

Lady Steed and I are reading through the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon. The glorious visit of Christ is past and basically all that's left is the examples of humanity descending into American Me-like depravity. These chapters don't just give us the horror of our capacity for evil, however; they also share with us the Lord's desire to bless us when we return to him. All is never lost with Jesus.
    O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
I pray that this powerful depiction of evil will serve to return me to that Jesus who stands with open arms to receive me. I pray that each of us will recognize his willingness to accept us and gather us in. It's not too late.

It's not too late.

last week's svithe


  1. It has been a while since I've seen that movie. I know I've seen it but remember very little about it.

    My only true comfort is knowing that there seems to be a balance in this world. The solace and peace that can be found in the Temple, the scriptures and guidance from our Prophet and other church leaders presents a stark juxtaposition to what the cold, cruel world has to offer.

    A beautiful example of the contrast between the world and the security gained through obedience to the gospel ordinances can be found in West Los Angeles. A safe, calm presence found within and on the Los Angeles temple grounds is mere blocks from some of the more offensive, derisive trash the human mind can concoct.

    As the world embraces the grander expressions of sleaze, we can find comfort and safety in the gospel. I am heartened to realize many have chosen the higher road.