“Harrison Bergeron” and “2081” are two very similar stories with minute differences that alter the emotion and purpose of Harrison’s actions, and my personal preference would be the film’s telling. In the short story, everybody is handicapped down to the perceived norm. People still have the traits that make them unique and special, but they are suppressed by weights for strength, masks for beauty and an emitter which interrupts thoughts with sharp, loud sounds, lowering their thought capabilities. This however, does not necessarily continue in the film, as George, Harrison’s father, appears to remember him being taken in April, as opposed to Hazel, his wife, whom of which had no recollection “Forget sad things, I always do”(Hazel 2081). As the sounds hit George’s eardrums, Hazel can hear what sound is described in the novel, but George, only in the movie, recollects what happened on the fateful day their son was taken away. This difference between the two shows that the mentally handicapped aren’t necessarily unable to think and remember, but are more conditioned to not even try out of fear. That, I feel adds another entire layer on top of the already deep satirical piece by Kurt Vonnegut. Another reason why I find the film superior is that is adds a ‘bomb threat’ that is later shown to control the television network, adding more drama and drawing the audience in further. The presentation of the characters is spot on in my opinion, although the cinematography could use some work. Each character matches the description in the story, and truly expresses what they believe, and want to accomplish in an entirely different dimension than the original with body language, physical cues and tasks all being portrayed in a much clearer and well defined way, visually. If I had to give the film as well as the book ratings, the short story would reach a firm 7.5, while “2081” reaches a 9.57 out of 10. Overall, I would greatly recommend this tale of a communistic future, which poses deep questions of society and the self.
I think that the thesis of David Suzuki’s “Racism” is that racism has worked it’s way into society, becoming a normality, but we should realize that these words still hold weight, and treat them very sensitively.
In this short letter, we get to view a horrible truth through the eyes of somebody directly affected by this, being racism, hence the title. A quote from the short story near the beginning shows us exactly how unexpected and hurtful these racist comments are, “‘But he’s a [c****]!’ my friend blurted out. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be mad because he had used a racial slur”(17). This specific quote was from Suzuki’s childhood, which shows how it’s worked it’s way into the youth, and also into a firm place in society. From that point on, Suzuki goes in-depth explaining to his grandchildren how horrible it was to live with the fact that some people had a predisposition to immediately hate you, just based on nationality or skin. He shows us examples in his own life that “If we witness an act of discrimination but do not speak up or intervene, then we [technically] support it” (30). Had this letter been written to myself, it would have a massive impact on me, especially should my race not change for I have never experienced racism, and I probably never will, but with Suzuki’s first hand experience, I would be able to better understand, sympathize and support people affected. I do appreciate what he is bringing up in his letter. He is adressing a point which is rarely seriously adressed in literature, and sharing his insight and guidance on how we can improve ourselves from what we were back then, and that is what we should take away from it all, and what we should implement into our own lives. For we do not know what others may have experienced, and by not using these words, but adressing the impact and seriousness of them, we educate others on how to make the world a better more accepting place. I don;t know about you, but that sounds awesome to me.
In Chamimanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story”, she brought up the idea that every body is subject to and perpetuates a “Single Story” about one another. Throughout our discussions of the TED talk, we applied this principle to our own lives as well as current events. An example brought up was that all people in TALONS are exceptionally smart in all things related to school, and should thus be the best students in each class. This however, is, to quote Chamimanda, “not wrong, but incomplete”, as each gifted student inn our program has their own strengths and weaknesses. As we dove further into this talk, we discovered that this idea went beyond our own lives, spreading into other cultures and countries worldwide. This broadened Chamimanda’s original example of the “Single Story”, which was in her home in Eastern Nigeria, stating that all people that were from there were poor, uneducated and tribal. We expanded that with Donald Trump’s single story of Mexico, spreading the incomplete picture of immigrants across America. Another example brought up were of Alexander Hamilton, who was going to be removed from the 10 dollar American bill before Lin Manuel Miranda gave the world more information about him through an award winning musical. What Chamimanda stated after giving her examples was that we all participate in this single story, and should work to eliminate them, that is the take away.
However, the take-away alone is not enough, you must put it into action in your life. For example, when you see yourself broadcasting a stereotypical figure, try to add other points of view. Be skeptical of what others tell you, and check the facts and other resources before making up you mind. After all, we are all humans living on this earth, and respecting one another’s culture and countries is one step closer to a very peaceful planet.
Should you see somebody digging through your garden, there is little chance that you would give them the benefit of the doubt. This brings along my observation of Emil, a book by Stuart McLean. What I observed was that everybody has rights, and is should be treated as though they are just as good, if not better than you; and ranking is not based on possessions and accomplishments, but rather the person them self. Throughout the short story, it is shown that Morley extends that exact set of morals towards Emil, even though he had only put a negative effect on the sales of Dave’s shop. “Will you show me your garden tomorrow?” (pg.116) this shows that Morley, the speaker of the line shows interest in Emil, both to make him feel included and to learn more about him. As the story progresses, Morley continues to reach out to Emil, treating him as a real person, caring for his needs and giving him comfort as well as financial support. “I’m going to give it back to him, bit by bit.” (pg.119) Morley shows again that she will continue to care for the less fortunate, and will give back the money given to her by Emil, back to him, over the course of the next few months, even going to the point of creating a separate jar for money that was “It’s his money” (pg.119). Overall, I believe that this story can be eye opening for society today, as the message currently broadcast is: if you can, get more stuff; but Emil shows that everybody deserves a comfortable and purposeful life, and if you can do your part to help them, that is better that merely improving yourself.