In defense of Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s film “The Great Wall”

I have always been puzzled that Zhang Yimou’s films have not received proper recognition in the United States. IMHO, Yimou is the greatest filmmaker on this earth, and Gong Li, his former muse, the greatest actress of her generation. Li  can be seen in his first film, Red Sorghum, in Raise the Red Lantern, a more renowned film, and To Live, an indictment of policies and campaigns of the Communist government. To Live was banned in mainland China by the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. This film  was and is a tribute to Yimou’s courage. It was was banned in mainland China by the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television[3] due to its critical portrayal of various policies and campaigns of the Communist government.

I have seen every film Yimou has ever made, and when Gong Li was his star, I would say to myself, “She makes Meryl Streep look like an amateur.” Li could convey, with the subtlest of glances, a world of emotion and mystery. Yimou has always taken on feminist themes, something most American filmmakers have not. To illustrate, ponder the machismo works of Scorsese, Coppola, and Kubrick, all filmmakers to applaud and whose work I enjoy. However, do they take on the inherent destructiveness of polygamy (Raise the Red Lantern)? And do their films universally  embody strong female characters (think of Hero, House of Flying Daggers, To Live, The Flowers of War, and now The Great Wall)?

I have not yet seen the machismo of American film directors in any of Yimou’s films. I don’t think there is an American director who appeals to the feminist side of me more than Yimou. Add to this colorful and dramatic cinematography, the best film editing, wondrous musical scores, and the most perfectly directed cast and casting (I know, redundant but I had to say it that way to make my point), and I just don’t see the problem with a big film such as The Great Wall.

I took it for what it was — a legendary fantastical film about fighting monsters on China’s Great Wall. I would have thought any film made by an American filmmaker about the Great Wall would have a militaristic and machismo theme with few female warriors, if any. The Great Wall was a spectacular sight to behold, and I feel a great urge to write to Yimou to thank him for all that he has done for filmmaking. And to say, “I’m sorry, dude, but Americans just don’t get  you. If it counts at all, I do!

I think it is absolutely no accident that Donald Trump has felt free to criticize Chinese policies out of envy for all that the Chinese have accomplished. Criticism of their system of government, draconian perhaps yes, cannot be made without also condemning the flaws and hypocrisy of the American political system. Chinese artists are not responsible for their system of government. The Great Wall made me want to learn more about Chinese history and culture, something that is addressed in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series of books, an historical reimagining of the Napoleonic era complete with aerial corps of flying dragons.

As an aside, iIn Novik’s books, the Chinese treat sentient dragons with respect and honor and dignity; the English treat sentient creatures no better than dogs to be used only for their own militaristic ends and hegemony. There is something to Novik’s point of view. Her books are worth a read, by the way, and the great director Peter Jackson has optioned the series; I hope he goes ahead with the project(s). There are seven to eight books in all. If you like fantasy, heroism, and the love of an ultimate companion, a sentient dragon, you ought to take a look at Novik’s work. If Jackson doesn’t make the series, perhaps Yimou will?

If I had to make a list of the people I’d want to sit down for lunch with (for about a week), Zhang Yimou would be at the very top of that list. Perhaps I can get him to join the Over-Rateds. Qu’est-ce que tu penses?

Oh, the things I’ve learned from the Donald …

I’ve learned some very important lessons from Donald Trump. Everyone else should learn them too, and thank him for teaching us. Everything will be great if you all learn what I’ve learned as described below:
 1) I’ve learned that when I’m alone with any one person, I can pretty much do or say whatever I want so long as I don’t leave marks;
2) I’ve learned to pretty much do whatever I want regardless of legality because I can always say that I didn’t know something and it wasn’t intentional. Who’s going to be able to prove my state of mind? Besides, unlike Trump, I’m pretty small fry so what is anyone going to do?
3) I’ve learned that I can pretty much NOT pay any debts that I incur, and I can blackmail my debtors into taking cents on the dollar by threatening bankruptcy (or declaring bankruptcy as much as I possibly can). They can’t get blood out of a stone (as Trump’s creditors have painfully learned); whatever blood I’ve got no one will know about;
4) I’ve learned that I can pretty much say whatever I want about anything to anyone, and it won’t matter so long as I say the next day that I didn’t say it;
5) I’ve learned that I can treat the veterans who try to sell hot dogs in front of my apartment building like crap, I can insist that they sell their hot dogs elsewhere because their disgusting hot dogs — that I obviously eat a lot of — will compromise the value of my building and its surroundings, and then I can insist that I also “love” the veterans and I can pretend to give them millions of dollars (whether or not I actually give them those dollars);
6) I’ve learned that I can attack the judiciary for being “unfair” to me, and insist that they don’t care about the American people and they’re ALL not doing their jobs since they don’t agree with ME — despite the fact that they actually appear to know the Constitution (and I don’t know jackshit about the Constitution); and
7) I’ve learned to surround myself with the most cynical and despicable “yes” men and women who will defend to the death my right to do all of the above, men and women who do so to further their own agendas regardless of the impact on the American people.
I encourage you all to add the lessons you’ve learned from Trump as I’m sure we’ve all learned much, much, much more than this!

May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies (Voltaire)

The email pictured, from People’s Action Institute, starts with the line, “Republicans are afraid of us,” and then goes on to demand that Tom Price not be nominated (due to his “insider status” with pharmaceutical companies). This was sent to me on or about February 9, 2017.
I’m not sure exactly what they’re referring to (his stock purchases perhaps?). Regardless, please note that this man is an orthopaedic surgeon and so he is a medical provider. He spent more than 20 years caring for patients in Atlanta, and founded one one of the largest private orthopaedic practices in the country. He makes very clear in his bio that he is “a fierce opponent of government waste and devoted to limited government and lower spending.”
This cannot mean that he is opposed to healthcare (he provided it after all). The email sent to me by PAI asserts that he and other Republicans “want to dismantle the health care programs our families count on, from Medicaid and Medicare to the Affordable Care Act. Their haphazard plans are already threatening chaos for all of us.”
THEIR haphazard plans threatening chaos??!! Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black. I’ve seen the chaos of Medicaid in New York State. I’ve seen patients unable to get needed medicines. I’ve seen providers not get paid for over six months for their services by Medicare. I’ve been left personally hung out to dry by Obamacare as both a provider and a patient. The Dems are behaving as if we don’t already have chaos. It is dishonest and misleading.
It’s not clear to me that having the government AND health insurers in the doctor’s office is a GOOD thing and it shouldn’t be taken for granted that it is. Pray protect us from our protectors!
I received a very good taste of the extent to which the Democratic Party was willing to hang sole proprietors and individuals out to dry, leaving us flapping in the wind without any doctors while we were sick, and when we asked for help because we NEEDED it, many Dems viciously attacked patients like myself. Because how dare we say we’re in trouble, ask for help and even more, how DARE we complain about falling through the cracks?
This has led me to question the Liberal agenda in regard to healthcare, and to wonder if perhaps socialized medicine just isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Demonizing a man because he does not agree with the Liberal position, demonizing him because he is concerned for the legitimate rights of patients (rights that have, by the way, been abrogated by government interference), demonizing him because he believes that providers have rights, and demonizing him because, perhaps, just perhaps, he might be right that government interference in healthcare is NOT WORKING for patients and providers, and demonizing him because he thinks he knows a better way, is just WRONG. Sad.
Many healthcare providers have problems with Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare. They are the most difficult so-called “insurers” to collect from. They underpay and they put some providers out of business with their excessive demands and inadequate payments. This doesn’t appear to benefit anyone that I know.
So, folks, either you pay for what you want, or you don’t pay and you get what you pay for. It’s really that simple. And we’ve been getting what we pay for, or less than what we pay for, because our government can’t keep its nose out of our personal affairs. If one has a child, one has an obligation to actually pay for that child’s healthcare rather than expecting those of us who choose to remain single to subsidize their life choices (because perhaps single folk would like to spend our money on other things such as our own healthcare, something we actually have the right to do). Why should I pay for someone else’s child to have healthcare when I don’t even have it? WTFIST?!
I want the option of NOT having to buy on the exchange and I have a right to do so. After getting kicked off of my insurance for a month in November 2016 by our government because their website wasn’t working properly, I was done! I went without health insurance I purchased for an entire month because it took our highly efficient health department until November 30th to fix the problem. Folks, get this — it took the whole month to get back the month’s coverage and by that time, it was too friggin’ late because the month was up and during that entire time, no doctor would let me in their front door much less use the toilet. How is this a good thing??!!
If anyone thinks we’re better off having this leviathan manage our healthcare, they’re dead wrong. The answer cannot be either socialized medicine which essentially enslaves providers. Providers people; they are not faceless entities. They are people just like you, just like me. They work hard and they hope to adequately compensated for their hard work just like you. They are people who will, at their wit’s end, simply quit because poverty in old age really isn’t an option. Then, what will we do for healthcare with no one to deliver it?
There have to be other answers for those who fall through the cracks.
I am far from convinced that our government and in particular, our Democratic “friends,” have what it takes to solve the problems. I’m much more inclined at this point to give Tom Price a chance. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. I strongly dislike his boss, but I’m going to give Tom Price a chance.
We could use a medical practitioner who has experience in government and legislating rather than a bureaucrat who has no idea what he or she is doing. That was evident from the Obamacare rollout.
I’m talking to you as a provider and a patient and I cannot begin to tell any of you just how much I have suffered in both roles due to the Democrats. It has been a bitter, long, and lonely role, and I’ll do anything never to be placed in that position again. I refuse to accept that I am to be their sacrificial lamb and that the Dems will wave goodbye as I fall into the abyss.

Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy (Walt Whitman, who speaks to us from the grave)

girlYOU just maturing youth! You male or female!
Remember the organic compact of These States,
Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thenceforward to the rights,
life, liberty, equality of man,
Remember what was promulged by the founders, ratified by The States,
signed in black and white by the Commissioners, and read by
Washington at the head of the army,
Remember the purposes of the founders,–Remember Washington;
Remember the copious humanity streaming from every direction toward
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations and men; (Cursed be
nation, woman, man, without hospitality!)
Remember, government is to subserve individuals,
Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less than you or me.

Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions, are to become the
hundred, or two hundred millions, of equal freemen and
freewomen, amicably joined.

Recall ages–One age is but a part–ages are but a part;

The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the eternal overthrow
of things is great,
And there is another paradox.

Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions, of the idea
of caste,
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.

Anticipate the best women;
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-defined women are to
spread through all These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable, dauntless,
just the same as a boy.

Anticipate your own life–retract with merciless power,
Shirk nothing–retract in time–Do you see those errors, diseases,
weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character?–Do you see decay, consumption, rum-
drinking, dropsy, fever, mortal cancer or inflammation?
Do you see death, and the approach of death?