Monday, February 1, 2010

Entertainment and ethics: see Amreeka

You can learn ethics from the movies. To Kill a Mockingbird is about speaking truth to power. The Magnificent Seven is about keeping your commitments. And now Amreeka.
The engrossing film—not at all preachy—is about treating people as “the other.” Nisreen Faour is award-nominated as Muna, the West Bank Christian Arab who is treated as other  by the Israelis, then emigrates with her teen age son to join her sister in Illinois just after the Iraq war begins, and is treated there too as other. Philosophers have written about the concept of “otherness,” where people of a different background or faith are deemed to be other—that is, not equivalent to the “self,” and therefore inferior, or even less than human.
The basis of all ethics is the Golden Rule, and that rule is smashed by treating people as other. Amreeka entertains, inspires, and teaches us. See it.

1 comment:

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - Thanks! I'll see the movie. As a student of philosophy, especially the oeuvre of Hegel, Heidegger and Sartre, I have written many papers on "otherness." I have even chaired at international philosophical conferences and served as a reader of a best selling book on Sartre which spoke of the relationship between he and Camus, another great writer of "otherness," although in a different genre. Well, Sartre wrote fiction also. This post made me smile as it evoked many familiarities. I am not used to reading about otherness on blogs. :-) I LOVE "To Kill a Mockingbird." In fact, I haven't met anyone who doesn't.