Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Victory of Pain

April 27, 2010

Have you ever worked so hard for something just to have all snatched away from you in the blink of an eye? Murderball, or rugby, is the story of quadriplegics on the USA rugby team. This documentary dives deep into each of the players’ lives, revealing details from their injuries, performance of sexual intercourse, and love for the game of rugby. It turns out that even if given the chance, none of these players would jump on a cure to be normal, right away. Players like Mark Zupan, find redemption in Murderball and realize that they would not trade the life they have for the life they once had. He says, “I’ve done more stuff in a wheelchair than I did when I was able-bodied.” In this blog we will explore the injuries, feelings, and redemption of a few of the players of the USA rugby team.

Cleveland, Ohio native, Mark Zupan is one of the premier players on the USA rugby team. Even before he was injured, a couple of his friends said he was a jackass. “He looks scary,” they said. One night, Zupan got drunk at a party and passed out in the bed of his best friend, Chris Igoe’s truck. Chris, also drunk, did not even see Mark in the bed as he passed by to go to the driver seat and drive home. “Drunk driving wasn’t as big a deal back then as it is now,” he said. While on the expressway, Chris was involved in a collision, and Zupan was thrown from the bed, over a fence, and into a canal. While in the canal, Zupan held onto a branch for fourteen hours until being spotted by a passerby. He went into hypothermia and became quadriplegic. When asked if he would “turn back the clock on that day”, Zupan answered “No, I don’t think so. My Injury has led me to opportunities and experiences and friendships I would never have had before. And it has taught me about myself. In some ways, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” Zupan has found redemption in wheelchair rugby, also known as Murderball. He was apart of the 2004 bronze medal-winning USA team in Athens, and captain of the 2008 gold medal-winning paralympic team in the recent Beijing Olympics.

Another main character in the Murderball documentary was Scott Hogsett. With his vibrant blonde hair, it’s hard to miss this quadriplegic on the rugby court. Similar to Zupan’s story, Hogsett was injured while intoxicated. While at a New Year’s party, Shawn, a drunk, angry friend, threw Hogsett off a 10-foot deck into the 25-degree Washington snow. Because everyone at the party was drunk, no one had any clue that Scott’s neck had broken with the impact of the fall. Shawn went down and continued the beating, ripping Scott’s spinal cord as he lied helpless in the snow. After an event like this, you would think that Scott would want pity. In actuality, Hogsett describes this experience as “the highlight of his entire life.” He has no desire for sympathetic smiles from empathetic bystanders. He’s living a normal life, married, an athlete, drinking, and watching the one sport he used to play, baseball. Like Zupan, Hogsett has found redemption in wheelchair rugby and was also apart of the two medal-winning teams in 2004 and in 2008. He would not trade anything that has happened for an able-body and has made a close bond with fellow rugby teammate, Andy Cohn.

As we have read and it is true, that this bunch of quadriplegics have found refuge in wheelchair rugby. We have journeyed into two player’s lives of the gold-medal winning rugby team.  They enjoy the lives they have and would not trade them for anything in the world. On an interview on Larry King Live, King assumed they would love to go back to the way they were saying that if there was a cure, he was sure they would take it. Zupan answered, “Not necessarily. Not necessarily – this is one of the best things that has ever happened to us.”

Work Cited:

Dickerson, John. Rolling Thunder. Times Publications; Article. Strickbine Publishing, Inc. 2009.

Rubin, Henry Alex. Shapiro, Dana Adam. Murderball. Paramount Pictures; MTV films. 22 July 2005; Dolby Digital

Wikipedia. Murderball.

CNN. TV; Interview. Larry King Live.


Born on the Fourth of July

March 12, 2010

In Oliver Stone’s, Born on the Fourth of July, we find our hero, Ron Kovic, strolling his wheelchair along next to his high school sweetheart, Donna. This scene comes to a stop when Donna steps onto the curb to go up to her dormitory. As Ron continues to roll, he merely bumps into the curb. There is a quick pause of awkwardness until Donna finally decides to ask Ron if he would like to come up. He says no. This one scene in the film depicts Ron’s beginning to complete alienation from family, friends, and society as a whole. It demonstrates the separation and lack of understanding the United States of the late 60’s and early 70’s had for the veterans of the Vietnam War and the paraplegic, known as Ron Kovic.

First, we examine Ron’s alienation from society. Upon arrival back in the states, Ron is not pleased with the welcome he and his fellow vets have received. Students across the country, including Syracuse, where Donna resides, are holding anti-war rallies and taking part in heinous acts such as burning the American flag. As we examine closely at the Independence Day parade, we see Ron waving to the crowd, smiling, trying maintain his pride and honor as a U.S. Marine. Though, he does not receive the same response from the crowds standing by. One man in particular flips Ron “the bird.” Others huddle together, wearing “peace” shirts and booing as the rest of the veterans drive by. Some just have look of sorrow and oppression. All these occurrences create the image and disillusionment in Ron’s head that perhaps, his country and it’s citizens have betrayed him and his fellow veterans.

In addition to society, Ron’s alienation extends into his own family. While away at war, Ron’s younger brother, Tommy, has already become a firm believer in anti-war. This, in itself, already creates a gap, or “curb”, in their relationship that Ron can’t seem to go over. It’s almost as if Ron receives no support from his family because even his own mother refuses to tolerate Ron’s attitude, who seems to resent everything and everyone around him. One evening, Ron returns home after a prior confrontation with a WWII veteran in a bar. Ron arrives drunk and has yet another, even worse, confrontation with his mother, who is in fact, embarrassed to have a handicapped son. With no remorse, Ron eventually leaves his home permanently.

Ron Kovic’s alienation from society, family, and friends is the result of one bump into the curb – the loss of his limbs. This one bump represents the attitude of resentment, bitterness, and betrayal Kovic feels from the country around him. It is because of one event, Ron Kovic’s world begins to spin so rapidly causing the people who “love” him to become distant.

Stone, Oliver.Born on the Fourth of  July. 20 December 1989.

Born on the Fourth of July. Plot Summary. The Internet Movie Database; 1989

Best Years of Our Lives

February 17, 2010

In William Wyler’s classic film, Best Years of  Our Lives, it shows many scenes that discreetly portray a much bigger meaning. One in particular that I thought was interesting was when the main characters, Homer Parrish, Fred Derry, and Al Stephenson were flying home from WWII. Homer had not seen combat, yet lost his limbs in training. As a result, artificial arms were given to him so he could keep slight use of his hands for normal daily activity. As Fred and Al had fallen asleep, Homer woke up from his own nap. As he looked out the front transparent frame of the aircraft, the sun shown bright. However, what was interesting about this scene, to me, was that the sun was pictured right in the center of the screen and its light was visible, piercing through the clouds. Homer awoke and solemnly looked out at this scene for a few seconds with a deep daze in his eyes. What I felt was significant, was that one could not tell, due to the position of the sun, was it setting or was it rising? The position of the sun and setting of the hour is a significant reflection of the deep emotion and thoughts running through Homer’s mind as he approached his homecoming. What would his fiance, Wilma, say? How would his family react?

The first point of view I would like to approach is if the sun was rising. As Homer gazes at the beautiful, painting like scene, he can see the sun piercing through the clouds. This might signal the dawn of a new day, or a new beginning in his life. As he has lost use of his limbs, how will he approach this new day? Will he take all the negative being thrown onto him, shake it off, and use it as a platform to step up? The sun itself piercing through the clouds, much like his heart, pounding through his exterior appearance crying out desperately, “I’m still human! Treat me like everyone else! I’m not worthless! I’m still the Homer I was when I left!” The deep emotion is sensed in his tentative glare. So what happens next? How will he approach the sun, or the positive lesson, peaking through the gloomy, unexpected clouds?

In contrast, one can see this scene from the negative’s perspective. What was once as bright and valiant as the sun, has been covered and overshadowed by an unfortunate tragedy. Homer reluctantly looks out. One could see his eyes read, “Oh no, look at what’s happened. How will they accept me? Wilma won’t want to marry me now.”  Homer wants to see the light through the clouds. He wants to know it will be okay. However, his bit of hope is constantly overtaken by the darkness of the bewildering clouds.

When he finally does arrive home, his family, friends, and fiance try to make him feel comfortable, but he repeatedly shuns their efforts. He masks their love and appreciation like the clouds do to the beaming sun. As Homer goes throughout his daily activity, he fails to return his loved one’s attempts at a positive outlook. He feels that nothing good can come of this. To adapt to his new state, Homer must fight his way through the clouds and find the sun, and find his redemption. Until he does, the love and attempted support of his family will continue to be overshadowed.


January 25, 2010

The major events of  Closer were, for the most part, miniscule and conspicuous. However, the film was filled with symbolism, foreshadow, and imagery. Isolation was one of the key components to Ian Curtis’ epileptic experience and the self-shame he bore.

One particular element of imagery and foreshadow occurred when Ian Curtis was talking on the phone to his band manager. He had just had a seizure and missed the flight to the United States tour Joy Division was supposed to be taking. In the middle of his conversation, Curtis turned to the wall, hunched over and became nothing more than a dark figure while a woman was sitting under the light knitting as if there was no one even there. What does this imagery mean? From it I interpreted a single word – a word from Ian Curtis’ own lyrics – isolation.

While everyone else in the world – bandmates, band manger, wife, and friends, represented by a single woman – are living their lives, Curtis fades into the background, drowned in his own self-hate and embarrassment. He is isolated from the rest of this world. Beyond the figure, himself, the shadow represents darkness, confusion, fear, and being lost.

Every lyric in “Isolation” is a reflection of one dark shadow. His pain and humiliation are at stake due to his “devotion and love” for his craft. In the film, the actor who plays Curtis narrates “they don’t know how much I give. And now they want me to give more.” He is “surrendered to self preservation” and keeping to himself so that others may not see his shame, though he is “carefully watched for a reason.”

Another interpretation I received from this shadowed Ian Curtis was the foreshadowing of his death. After he commits suicide, all that would be left is a memory. The darkness of his shadow, itself, symbolizes death.

Ian Curtis’ isolation from the world, his loved ones, etc. is all depicted in this one scene. His isolation from “normality” turns him away from his worldly comfort and daily routine. Though one cannot help but feel a small sense of redemption and hope when reading his lyrics:

“But if you could just see the beauty,

These things I could never describe,

These pleasures a wayward distraction,

This is my one lucky prize.”

Perhaps from this we can infer that death is his one lucky prize. Maybe the freedom of being relieved from his epileptic state is his redemption. Suicide, he felt, was his only option to escape the humiliation he could not bare to face.

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January 14, 2010

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