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Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

15

It's not enough

Equality must go national

Franchise stays 'Fast' on lap six

Lin brings heart,
bravado to storied
action series
By MATT EASTON
Daily Arts Writer
"Fast & Furious 6" is family. For
young adults, the film series has
hung around in the background for
the greater part of their conscious
life, a comforting (or grating)
engine humming over their shoul-
ders. These adults might remember
the thrill of seeing the first film
in theaters, the pure joy of racing;
afterwards, they might have sped

down neighborhood hills on bikes,
issuing guttural revs and yelling
"nitro!" at the top of their lungs.
The moody teenage years came
next, and "Fast & Furious" lin-
gered, offering the same thing it
always has, yet receiving mockery
in place of idolatry. Drifting was
mentioned with a sneer, and Vin
Diesel suddenly had more in com-
mon with a mother trying to relate
to her adolescent daughter than
with a tough street racer. Our mov-
ies needed to be dark or ... impor-
tant, and a bunch of meatheads
with stick shifts didn't speak to our
intellectual beings. Still though,
"Fast & Furious," like family, stuck
around even when we didn't want

it to.
Now those kids are all grown
up (though they hardly feel that
way), and the specious "realness" A
of the serious action film, the tor-
tured superhero, has lost its luster. Fas
Satisfaction can come from circu- Fur
lar intellectual exercises, but with
the threshold of adulthood closely At I
behind them, the kids now recog- Qual
nize the importance of hugging
mom goodbye, charring burgers nive
with friends and racing just for the
joy. "Fast & Furious 6" knows this
truth, and after a decade of being ;«
the punch line, "6" has shown that
it's Diesel's ugly mug and Dwayne
Johnson's baby oil smell that
deserve to dominate the box office

over the next decade.

ommom

And, looking at the franchise,
it's hard not to think in terms of
"decades." The opening credits
depict stylized scenes from the
previous five movies, ending in the
main characters, in nearly match-
ing white shirts and jeans, slo-mo
sauntering toward the camera. Drive it like you stole it.
Stupid, cheesy? Sure, but it's an act
of effortless bravado from director universe.
Appoientt Justin Lin ("Fast Five") and Vin Ignoring the gr
S. StatestRIM Diesel. The success of "Fast Five" the films, viewing
Be&ey has stabilized the series and clari- tially also adds dept
KW (ome fied its vision - and the introduc- ("Fast and Furious"
tion to "6" reminds us of the rich limited actor, has b
history these characters possess ing if only because
while simultaneously declaring around. His char
Lin and Diesel's belief that they Brian O'Conner, is
aren't going anywhere soon. to the film's diet t
Operating as an end and a matter if he's bland
beginning, "6" satisfies because it invested, we've kn
has organically cultivated a world long not to be. Cre
2 which seems to exist outside of for a steady improvi
the films themselves. Characters while one wouldn'tc
aren't just sitting around while mance stunning, heI
the movies aren't happening: matured O'Conner
Han (Sung Kang, "Fast Five") and father. The darede'
Gisele (Gal Gadot, "Fast Five") before our eyes, and,
slurp noodles in China, and their bags under theirs.
relationship has developed since Even if O'Conne
we've last seen them - they've worn down, the f
gone from speeding down the shockingly remaine
Autobahn to thinking about set- tage, and Lin proves
tling down. Tejo and Rico (in can conceive appai
"Fast Five," though not in "6") are ways to smash car
mentioned in passing; apparently scenes are standard
they are robbing Monte Carlo. flipping go-carts? V
For a bombastically unrealistic Grappling hook at
franchise, a sense of continuity planes? Lin perfectly
and naturalism surrounds this truth enough to keel
film, because the writers haven't while never going
9 remained satisfied with giving us maybe he goes too fa
the minimum amount needed. The so times, but this is a
vines of the story tangle outside Also, Lin layers hisI
the frame of the camera, draw- in masterful fashion
ing life from some invisible "Fast" he loses us in a blur

owth outside
them sequen-
h. Paul Walker
), an obviously
ecome endear-
he has stuck
acter, ex-cop
such a staple
hat it doesn't
d - we're still
own him too
dit to Walker
ement as well;
call his perfor-
has effectively
into a tired
vils are aging
we can see the
r looks a bit
franchise has
d freshly vin-
that his team
rently endless
rs. No action
d models: Car-
Vicious tanks?
tacks on air-
y stretches the
p us interested
too far (well,
ar like eight or
n action film!).
kinetic scenes
. Occasionally,
of movement,

but when there are multiple car
sequences interlaying with each
other, that's hardly a complaint.
Yet, it's in leaving the cars
behind where "Fast & Furious
6" truly succeeds. Tyrese Gibson
("Fast Five") and Ludacris ("Fast
Five") exchange more laugh-out-
loud dialogue than you'd find in an
average comedy, and the hand-to-
hand fight scenes are amazingly
original for a movie that shouldn't
even need to have them. "6" sur-
passes the classic brawl (Samoan
Thor v. Riddick would sell mil-
lions of tickets) between Johnson
and Diesel in "Five" - three times.
Twice in a London Tube scene
(which features the best female
fight this side of "Kill Bill"), and
once near the end, in an airplane
(of course).
"Fast & Furious 6" excels at
everything it attempts. Funnier
than most comedies, better than
any action film since "Fast Five,"
convincing enough in its char-
acterizations and surprisingly
tragic (knowing how Han's story
must end adds to its emotion), "6"
swaggers past the finish line. After
a decade of tinkering with the
engine, Lin and Diesel have cre-
ated a dominating, heartfelt vehi-
cle, which should carry this (dare
I say) storied world into the next
decade - here's to that.

Every so often my aggregation
of Tumblr blogs - my "dash-
board" or "dash" - fills with
death, thanks to
a blogger who
calls himself The
Revolting Syr-
ian. As I scroll
through his blog,
it takes everything
I have not to look
away. It's filled ERIC
with pictures and FERGUSON
YouTube video
thumbnails of
Syrian men, women and children in
varying states of distress and dis-
figurement. They're the victims of
what was once a revolution and is
now a long, bloody civil war, fought
between the government forces of
Bashar al-Assad and a loosely orga-
nized group of rebels.
The first few times those images
popped up I was almost sick. How
could anyone not be? I saw and con-
tinue to see Syrian opposition to
Assad as thoroughly legitimate and
I hope his rule ends - by whatever
means. However, I never expected
pictures of maimed and dismem-
bered children to show up on my
dash. They seem grotesquely out of
place alongside images of the Earth
taken from the International Space
Station, brief, hilarious exchanges of
text and teasers for articles in vari-
ous publications, but I feel obligated
to keep following that blog. Doing
so has served as a daily reminder
that the peace I enjoy as a student in
beautiful Ann Arbor is more precious
than I've ever realized.
His blog has done more for me
than that, though. It has helped me
to realize that the only way to stop a
conflict like the one in Syria - apart
from one side's surrender or anni-
hilation - is a state's application of
geopolitical power. No amount of
blogging or sharing of gruesome pic-
tures will matter if some government
or another doesn't think ending the
conflict is in the national interest.
This is a departure from the ideal
that generations of Americans have
been taught - that each individual's
voice matters. My own generation has
expressed our voices online for much
of our lives and sharing the content
we create or speaking out about what
we find there is second nature to us.
In turn, these acts seem to carry with
them the expectation that someone
should be paying attention to what we
say - that somehow, the mere act of
expression deserves attention.
It's apparent how untrue this is in
how we've used the Internet far more

effectively for getting free music, net-
working and Kickstarting our favorite
projects than for stopping civil wars
and other conflict. The Internet and
its community of users just don't have
the power to affect the outcome of
the Syrian conflict. Even if we tried,
there's little chance that any peti-
tion or email sent to the White House
regarding the conflict would get
beyond some secretary's inbox. They
would probably give the message a
cursory once-over, shoving it in the
virtual trash alongside messages from
9/11 truthers and people who think
they'll be taken more seriously if their
entire email is in CAPS LOCK.
I never expected
this to show up
on my dash.
Granted, the reasons for this dis-
missal are obvious. With its vast
intelligence infrastructure, the
government should be far better
informed about the situation in Syria
than any single person. Like all other
pieces of national policy, there isn't
going to be a referendum on whether
or not the U.S. should arm the rebels.
And unless the conflict spills over
the Syrian border into U.S.-allied
Iraq, Israel or Turkey and a U.S.
troop deployment becomes possible,
expecting the American people to
respond en masse to a distant coun-
try's suffering is depressingly unreal-
istic. Who wants to think about some
conflict halfway across the world
when you could hop on Netflix and
watch the new season of Arrested
Development instead?
Trust me - Netflix will keep for a
while. For now, go find The Revolt-
ing Syrian online. Remind yourself
that there are important problems
in the world that deserve our atten-
tion, perhaps even more so than the
ones that plague this country. And if
you think I'm wrong - if your faith in
the power of the Internet knows no
bounds - realize that there's a whole
host of problems that online interac-
tion cannot address. It can mesh the
voices of hundreds of people from
dozens of countries into a virtual
choir and provide free college-level
courses to the masses, but for some
things - like ending a civil war - the
Internet is not enough.
Eric Ferguson can be reached
at ericff@umich.edu.

n the U.S. today, the tide
is turning in support of
both marriage equality and
improved
rights for
the LGBT
community.
However -
as always - a
minority of
the country
is resisting JAMES
progress and BRENNAN
hampering
the
attainment of equality for all
Americans. In the last two years,
the number of states that allow
or will soon allow gay marriage
has doubled, with 12 states
and the District of Columbia
having passed marriage equality
statutes or amendments. As a
recent New York Times blog
pointed out, this number is
expected to increase, but only
for a short time. Historically,
some states have been extremely
resistant to social change,
meaning that even decades
after the vast majority of states
legalize gay marriage, there
will still be parts of the country
where all men and women are
not recognized equally under
the law.
The same situation played
out in the middle of the 20th
century, as civil rights for
African Americans passed in
the vast majority of states, but
remained untouched in most
of the South. Federal court
rulings helped to end a great
deal of discrimination at the
local and state level, but federal
statutes and a constitutional
amendment had to be passed to
stop some of the most egregious
violations of equal protection
under the law.
Though it may not be
possible to say with utter
certainty that Southern
states would have continued
discriminatory practices
without federal intervention,
there are a plethora of examples

in which former Confederate
states attempted to subvert
and challenge federal civil
rights laws that are now almost
universally accepted. It wasn't
until 1987 that the state of
Mississippi repealed its law
banning interracial marriage,
and until 1995 that it ratified
the 13th Amendment, banning
slavery. Even in 2012 - nearly
50 years after the Loving
v. Virginia case officially
made anti-miscegenation
laws like that in Mississippi
illegal - one in five Alabama
Republicans and more than one
in four Mississippi Republicans
believed interracial marriage
should be against the law.
This data doesn't even include
the multiple court cases
and legislative battles in the
south against federal anti-
discrimination laws.
Many parallels have been
drawn between the civil rights
movement and current fights
for LGBT equality, but the need
for federal intervention in both
situations is one of the most apt
of these comparisons. Though
early in a movement, a state-by-
state strategy is key in building
support, eventuallythe tide must
turn nationally. The current
Supreme Court cases dealing
with marriage equality - U.S.
v. Windsor and Hollingsworth
v. Perry - will likely be two
of the biggest first steps in a
national conversation about
gay rights, but litigation cannot
be the only aspect of this fight.
Federal legislation addressing
not only gay marriage, but also
discrimination in the workplace,
housing and other areas of life
must be proposed and eventually
passed in Congress.
When it comes to divisive
social issues like racial equality
and gay marriage, the U.S. has a
history of seeing certain groups
linger in the past as the rest of
the country moves forward.
Arguments against equal rights
for blacks would be heard as

simply another point of view,
even as recently as 30 years ago.
But in today's society, racism
is unacceptable and has no
legitimate place in the national
conversation. In a matter of
decades, the same will be true
for arguing against gay marriage
and LGBT equality. Some parts
of the country will continue to
be stuck in the past on LGBT
rights, but the vast majority of
Some states
have resisted
social change.
states will move forward.
The U.S. cannot maintain
itself as a true democracy when
certain citizens have full rights
in some places but not in others.
Even in my short lifetime,
I've spoken with black friends
who talk about being treated
differently in certain cities and
states because of their race.
Some have encountered people
who are simply rude, while
others have experienced full-on
hatred and a determination to
continue old ways in whatever
manner possible. No one could
say for sure, but it's highly likely
that most of the South - as well
as other parts of the country
-would have continied with
Jim Crow were it not for federal
legislation forcing progress.
Obviously, governments
cannot fully legislate morality
and equal treatment. However,
important action can be taken
to stop discrimination, and it's
our duty as citizens in a free
country to continue down the
road of progress - even if that
means dragging parts of the
country with us, kicking and
screaming the whole way,
James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthree(&umich.edu.

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