Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"Traitor", and the Perception of Reality

The first time I saw "Star Wars", I wanted to be Han Solo. The first time I saw "Bourne Identity", I thought the CIA was out to get me. And the first time I saw "Gone in 60 Seconds", I drove a little bit faster on the way home.

We don't always mimic what we see on the big screen, but movies do have the power to shape our reality. That's why I'm still thinking about the movie I saw last weekend. "Traitor" is about an American Muslim who sells weapons to terrorists. It stars Don Cheadle, who played "Basher" in the "Ocean's Eleven" movies. But this time there are no swank suits, and there's no hip soundtrack. "Traitor" is about the conflict between faith and duty. It is an excellent film…it's smart, stylish, and it's got a great story. In fact, I can't tell you much more about it without giving too much away.

But when I walked out of "Traitor', I wasn't thinking about acting, I wasn't thinking about directing, and I wasn't thinking about special effects. I was thinking that the guy by the garbage can could be planting a bomb. I was thinking the girl on the elevator could be packing a .45. And I was wondering how many Muslims really believe in Jihad.

Now most of us understand that the media plays things up for effect. The only thing real in reality TV is that the people aren't computer-generated. Yet. But we spend a lot of time watching the media. We've all heard the numbers on that. So I wonder what it's doing to me. Our culture loves stories. We love true stories, made-up stories, and stories about Britney Spears, which are a little of both.

But we have to be careful. Lots of time people wish their lives were more like the movies. But sometimes, deep down, we really believe they are.