Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beady eyes, Disney eyes, scratched eyes

I had already brainstormed my next Audient post when I got poked in the left eye playing basketball Sunday morning.

Appropriately, that post was going to be all about eyes. I was going to call it "Beady eyes, Disney eyes," and, well, you'll know what it was going to be about in a few moments because I'm actually going to write it.

However, I couldn't just write it without mentioning the irony of my own eye being damaged, delaying the post by a day or two. (And since I'd already written a post every day in February, that delay was probably something both you and I needed.) In fact, it turned out to be a scratched cornea. The optometrist fitted me with a contact lens I could wear for a day as a bandage, and I stayed home from work on Monday with my eyes closed for much of the day. No matter how rested you are, it's hard to stay awake when your eyes are closed all day. Yesterday on my follow-up visit with the optometrist, I was making good enough progress that I decided to go in to work, albeit three hours late. I'm still wearing sunglasses at my computer today, but am definitely well on the mend. Funny, I actually played great on Sunday after the eye poke, including hitting a couple three pointers. The optometrist chalked that up to adrenaline.

Okay, so here's the actual post:

I was watching Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys over the weekend, and was confronted once again with the fact that I don't like Cole Hauser. If you aren't familiar with that name, that's him above -- the one who isn't a Na'vi. He seems like he always plays someone nasty, even when he's the hero. And since Mr. Hauser hasn't had the most A-list career to this point, I don't have the pleasure of having seen many films in which he's the genuine good guy, so I don't really know if he plays that role more sympathetically. I do know that he was a nasty m'er-f'er in Paparazzi, a movie in which almost everyone was a nasty m'er-f'er, and that he was a nasty m'er-f'er in The Family That Preys.

When thinking about my distaste for Cole Hauser again over the weekend, I tried to put it into words. And the words that kept on coming up were "beady eyes." I'd say he has the beady eyes of a villain, the beady eyes of a bully. Yeah, he's got a ready sneer, and he seems to exude a constant stream of menace, but I think it all comes back to those eyes.

But is that Cole Hauser's fault? Or have I been brainwashed by Disney?

Last week after the Oscar nominations came out, a friend of mine referred me to a hilarious bit on youtube about Avatar. It's worth watching if you have two segments of 8+ minutes for the two parts of this Avatar smackdown, which is even funnier for how little it's exaggerated. And if you already read my long-winded blog, maybe you do have those two eight-minute blocks of time. It's here if you'd like to watch it.

If you'd rather have me just summarize the part that's relevant to this blog posting, the guy makes the point that the Na'vi were designed with the intention of being as sympathetic to us as possible on a core psychological level. He mentions the cat-like features, and then specifically refers to the eyes, which resemble those of a Disney character. Wide, innocent, friendly, gentle eyes. Not the beady eyes of a killer, like, say, the predator:

But is it the predator's fault he has beady eyes?

Our youtube satirist contrasted this picture of the predator with pictures from Aladdin, with the giant eyes of the Disney characters lending them endless amounts of empathy. Just as we empathize with the Na'vi in Avatar. And just as I don't empathize with Cole Hauser whenever I see him.

But maybe this is not the career Cole Hauser wanted to have. Maybe he wanted to be a genuine hero, someone who smiles a lot, someone who has a heart of gold. But maybe someone told him he was too mean. That his smiles, like the one above, looked sadistic and scheming rather than warm and welcoming. That his eyes were just too darn beady.

I guess I'm going to use this little confluence of incidents to stop judging a book by its cover, a man by his eyes. Maybe our beady-eyed friends are not really mean at their core, but just playing the role society -- a society influenced by Hollywood -- has forced them to play. Maybe if we stop telling them they're bad guys, they'll stop being bad guys.

And on a personal note, I'm just thanking my lucky stars I still have the functioning eyes to tell beady from Disney.

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