HBO aired the first season of Enlightened to not much fanfare. It almost seemed like they had little faith. Season one was a bit confused, as it was hard to tell if Amy was a flawed hero or just a fool. Season two makes one thing clear….Amy (co-creator Laura Dern) is as deluded as the people she rails against.
The story began with Amy working for Abaddon Industries, a giant corporation. She has a massive breakdown at work following a betrayal from her Boyfriend (both in terms of relationship and workplace standing). Amy goes into treatment in a “new agey” clinic in Hawaii. She has an epiphany about making the world a better place. She finds herself connecting to the earth in a spiritual fashion. Except, the truth is, she is really more interested in what this epiphany can do for her. Can her new found “compassion” for the earth and people be used to force change in Abaddon Industries? Except for the kink that instead of her previously higher level position, she is put in the basement IT Group, under the rule of the tyrannical scumbag Dougie (Timm Sharp). There she befriends meek IT worker Tyler (show co-creator Mike White). Well, she tends to push Tyler around, under the guise of the greater good, getting him to use his superior computing skills to try and dig up dirt on the company.
Her personal life is also not lining up as she feels it should…her ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) is a guy who never gave up the party-or the party never gave him up…Amy takes on the task of “saving him” from his addiction. Her mother (Diane Ladd) just wants her to get her act together, and does not understand her new goals. By the end of season one, Amy was still hitting her head against the wall, but got Levi to give in and go to the same treatment center. She has used Tyler’s crush to start hacking the corporate system.
Season Two has Amy starting to get some advancement in her plot. She and Tyler uncover some info that she takes to an L.A. writer named Jeff (Dermot Mulroney). This begins a relationship as she digs in to blow the lid on the company. There are some hiccups, but also some surprise alliances.
But what stands out is the fact that Dern and White pull no punches. Amy is earnest in her self delusion. She thinks she is working for the greater good. She wants to be important, she wants to believe her enlightenment means something about what she will achieve, rather than just another cog in the machine. She is less interested in helping people and more in helping herself. Helping people is more about how it makes her feel about herself. They do not try and sugar coat this, and it is benefits the show that they do not try and convince us that she is this great person. It, in a way, makes her more sympathetic. In her enlightenment, she is just as broken up as the people she claims to be wanting to help.
Her inability to connect with people on an honest level, and tendency to use them for her selfish goals of “changing the world” make her intensely human. And the windows into her friends and co-workers the show gives us works the same. Levi’s treatment is the opposite of Amy’s as he tries to replicate her experience…but where she saw beauty and and a new life, he finds a trash filled prison. When he returns to Amy’s life, it is uncertain if Levi had the epiphany he claims, or is trying to convince himself he did. Even Dougie becomes a sympathetic character as he realizes he has deluded himself as to where he stands within the company.
And her willingness to sacrifice ethics to become a hero who took down a corporation infects Tyler. To cover their tracks, they set up another co-worker, who loses his job. Amy uses Tyler’s growing relationship with another employee to build her case against the company.
While season one felt confused about how we should see this conflict, the second season is more confident and the stories are compelling. As Amy appears to be getting nearer to success in her fight against Abaddon Industries, her life seems to be falling further out of focus. The writing has been strong with great performances. I am definitely willing to see where this story goes.
So, I watched a guy get in trouble for solicitation in a store tonight. What was he soliciting? His Christian Ministry. He was showing brochures that were prominently sticking out of his shirt pocket. He was told not to do so once…and then he did it a second time. He told the security officer and manager he forgot the brochures were in his pocket.
You know…the brochure he had out and open three minutes before. He was lying about talking about his Christian ministry.
And yet we are always surprised when politicians get caught red handed doing something actually bad and they lie about it.
The H is silent.
I’ve been thinking a lot on this one. Mainly because it has spurred some anger. Second because it reminds me of this:
But…back to people getting mad…the American Family Association jumped up to defend Jesus.
This past weekend, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” aired an extremely violent and gory segment mocking Jesus Christ…just for laughs. And, it’s available now online thanks to Kmart, Sears and J.C.Penney …TAKE ACTION – Kmart, Sears and J.C. Penney have the responsibility to demand their brands not support programs that mock people of faith. Sears, Kmart and J.C. Penney are underwriting this attack on the Christian faith on NBC network. Let them know you are offended.
I cannot help but feel they missed the joke. You see, Jesus is not the joke here rather Tarantino’s fast and loose use of history for his own cinematic uses. This is especially the case in his recent hits Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. This is not an inherent problem. But the core of the joke is that the Jesus we see in Uncrossed is not the Jesus most people think of when they hear the name. Like Gandhi II, it is based in the fact that we do not see Jesus as that kind of dude.
But you know…there is a sadder truth. This Jesus is not so far than the Jesus reached by some. This is the tough Jesus of guys like Mark Driscoll and others obsessed with “Christian Masculinity”. This version of Jesus is the fuel of end time obsessives. The adherents of Left Behind anxiously await an angry, violent and vengeful Jesus who returns, sword waving, bloodletting and mayhem for the minions of the Anti-Christ (clarification, if you are not a Christian? You are one of these minions deserving a cruel and bloody death-followed by an eternity of suffering). And yet, some of these people are upset that SNL would mock Christ as a vengeful, angry and bloody thirsty God. Which, again, not what is happening. The skit is, again, playing on the fact that most Americans of any belief system do not perceive Jesus as a violent killer. It is an absurd image because most people do not think of Jesus as being like that. They think it is ridiculous. Well, unless you think Tim LeHaye and Mark Driscoll are founts of Wisdom. Then, Djesus Uncrossed is pretty on target.
Or as writer David R. Henson writes:
In the end, whatever the fallout from the skit, American Christianity didn’t need Tarantino or SNL or anyone in Hollywood to think up something as absurd and as base and as hysterically inaccurate as DJesus Uncrossed.
We’ve already done that for ourselves.
I will be honest…if I were to write a book about the worst parts of Christian music? Carman would probably be the penultimate chapter. I am not a fan (though in my pre-teens I was). Among the host of problems? The weird presentation of Jesus as an ass kicking hero beating up the devil and demons is just a weird portrayal of his Charismatic Christianity.
I confess, I was a bit surprised to learn that he has not taken this attitude with the revelation of having terminal cancer.
“I will not leave this world quietly and I want the devil to know that he put cancer on absolutely the wrong Italian. I have a few good years and before it’s too late I want to see your faces, shake your hands and hug your necks,” the New Jersey native wrote. “But mostly I want to see one of you get healed of what threatens your future and I really want to see someone you love come to Christ. Now lets get back to business, we have to work while its day for soon the night comes.”