Affirmative Action

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Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including “race, color, religion, gender , or national origin”[1] into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination. The focus of such policies ranges from employment and education to public contracting and health programs. – Wikipedia

Pulling out of my driveway this morning, I turned on the radio for some company. I’m not sure what station I was listening to but the topic of affirmative action was being discussed. Living in the South, I frequently see newspaper articles that talk about wanting to up the “insert race here” quotient in the local police or fire departments. Incentive programs are often offered to entice those of the desired race.

As I was passing by the park, down the street from my house, the two DJ’s on the program began talking about a recent poll they conducted. Seems they had sent someone to interview local college students on their thoughts on affirmative action in regards to sports. The students where asked:

“Do you believe that players should be recruited based on talent or race?”

Almost all of the students replied, “talent”. They were then asked:

“Why then is there a double standard in the business world where business owners have to hire based upon race and not those who are the most talented?”

Why indeed huh. Freedom and equality for all, even the stupid. Reminds me of this quote from the movie The Incredibles (swap the word “powers” for “talented”):

Helen: Dash… this is the third time this year you’ve been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more… constructive outlet.
Dash: Maybe I could, if you’d let me go out for sports.
Helen: Honey, you know why we can’t do that.
Dash: But I promise I’ll slow up. I’ll only be the best by a tiny bit.
Helen: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation.
Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

A Pixar Afternoon Revisited

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Today I bring you a follow up to A Pixar Afternoon, this time written by my friend Jacob. Enjoy!

Greetings, My name is Jacob Ingalls and I’ll be telling you why Bryan is wrong about his Pixar Reviews. The following list is compiled in order of what I think the best Pixar movies are:

1. Up

When historians look back at this time period in Cinema in the United States and the chapter is written on the studio that is Pixar. Up will be considered the Everest of this fantastic studio. The range and depth of up is un-parallel by almost any film in any genre. Coming out in the same summer that included Star Trek and Transformers 2, the cartoon character of an 80 year old man was the best action hero of that summer.

2. The Incredibles

Intense, Philosophical, Dark, Beautiful, Imaginative and a great leap of faith, these things are what makes Pixar’s The Incredibles the second (and an extremely close second) best Pixar movie ever. The Incredibles is a bit of Ayn Rand for 12 year olds, it deals with being different, being better and the absolute mortality of fame and getting old. More so than any Pixar film, The Incredibles examines the human condition and the want to be normal in an un-normal world. “Remember you are special, just like everyone else”.

3. Wall-E

I’m not entirely sure where to begin or end with this movie, butWall-E is a masterpiece, an amazing work of art that will stand the test of time for generations. Pixar has never been a stranger to taking risks and this one was their biggest. Wall-E is almost completely silent but manages to tell one of the purest love stories ever. Even though it was wrapped in a kids film wrapper it really strikes the most chords with the 20-something generation.

4. Finding Nemo

A great story about a Father and his boy, Finding Nemo never ceases to make one smile and ponder what it means to be a parent or a child for that matter. In my opinion one of the funnier Pixar movies Nemo manages to incorporate a beautiful love story has a side plot while also seamlessly integrating a coming of age story alongside a letting go story. So much is packed into this 90ish minute film that it’s hard to absorb it all in one sitting.

5. Ratatouille

My personal favorite Pixar movie, this movie take dead aim all that those who point fingers and blame just to feed their ego (odd that it’s also the villian’s name? I think not). Remy is one of the most accessible characters in all of Pixar, his dreams might be simple (to be a great chef) but seem so out of reach because of him being a rat. This movie is for all the dreams and all those who wanted something that seemed so out of reach.

6. Toy Story 1-3

Let’s look at this franchise as whole, From the first Toy Storythat changed movies forever, not just animated movies, but movies as a whole forever to the third that put an amazing end to the franchise. Toy Story is great for many reasons, but one of the biggest and one of the most over looked reasons is its ability to deal with death in such an amazing manner. Woody’s character in particular struggles with his own mortality throughout the films and with the “inferno” scene in 3 that mortality is brought full circle from fighting to acceptance and is one of the most powerful moments in all of Pixar.

7. Cars

This movie is simple and fun and extremely well written. It’s what I consider to be a second rate Pixar are movie but it’s still Pixar which means it’s better than 99% of the animated movies out there.

8. Monsters Inc.

Another truly funny movie from Pixar, While the main characters are nowhere near human you can’t help but connect and fall in love with them. Pixar does a great job of setting up the world in this movie.

9. A Bug’s Life

The second Pixar film was their look into the dystopian through the lens of the oppressed ants and their struggle against their overlord grasshoppers. All in all probably the worst Pixar film, it’s cute and fun and funny but borders on not being worthy of carrying the Pixar name.

To follow Jacob on twitter, click here.

A Pixar Afternoon

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Ah yes, Friday afternoons. After a busy week, things are finally winding down in the office. What better time than to take some time and compile a list! A list you say? Aren’t those a bit cliche? Why yes they are good sir or madam. However, this will be no ordinary list. For the list we are to compile today chronicles one of the top animation studios on the planet. Dreamworks Animation? No. Walt Disney Feature Animation? Nope. The studio I am hinting towards is none other than Pixar Animation Studios. This list of personal favorites could be hard…onward ho!

1. Wall-E – Showcasing what I believe to be one of the finest depictions of love in a movie (and its silent!), Wall-E is an absolute masterpiece.

2. The Incredibles – This movie has a special place in my heart as it was the first movie that I ever took my wife (then girlfriend) to. The pacing, realistic depiction of family, and overarching rant against a society that insists that everyone is special makes this movie top notch in my book.

3. Ratatouille – This Brad Bird film never lets go of the accelerator and never allows itself to fall into normal movie cliches. And I thought the movie was going to linger on the paternity issue, bah!

4. Toy Story 2 – My favorite Toy Story movie. I should note though that I do think that Jessie’s sad song is a bit over-done.

5. Toy Story – Full of great quotes. I will never forget the look of shock on Buzz’s face when he discovers that he really can’t fly.

6. Toy Story 3 – A perfect end to an amazing series.

7. Cars- “Speed.” This movie never fails to make me smile. Although, the pacing can drift a bit into the slow lane at times.

8. UP* – UP takes the award for making me cry, hard. I enjoyed its bittersweet story of an old man who learns that he still has much to contribute despite his advanced age. This movie showcases the emotional depth Pixar can infuse into its stories.

9. Finding Nemo – I find this movie long and poorly paced. Sue me.

10. Monster’s Inc. – Clever. Perhaps too clever? Multiple viewings have killed this movie for me. Be happy I even mentioned it.

11. A Bug’s Life – Perhaps I need to watch this again (its been years), but I found this film boring.

Favorite Non-Pixar Movie: Meet the Robinson’s (woo hoo!)

*Note: UP is certainly in the same category of Wall-E in terms of quality, storytelling, and pure emotion. However, I do not find it to be a movie that I want to watch time and time again.