12 Angry Men

I chose to watch 12 Angry Men for this blog post. Besides reading the synopsis, I had no idea what I was about to watch. However, I am very happy with my decision to watch this. I was able to draw two connections from this movie to readings from class. One is to Death and the Maiden and the other is To Kill A Mockingbird.

The first connections I made happened right after the preliminary vote of whether the boy was guilty or not. I made this connection to Death and the Maiden. When the jurors were asked if the boy was guilty, 11 of the men raised their hands before moving to the not guilty vote. But, not all 11 men immediately raised their hands. A few of them were hesitant, as if they were looking to see how many other people voted guilty, or like they didn’t believe he was guilty, before they decided to vote. This reminded me of the scene in Death and the Maiden when the Gerardo was asking Paulina if Roberto is really the person, she thinks he is. Was he really the person responsible or was he just someone that she could place the blame on, that just so happened to fit the description she remembered?

This is the same question that juror 8 was asking, especially when it came to the witness that was an old man. The witness said he heard the boy yelling at his father right before the father’s body dropped to the ground, dead. Then after a few moments, he saw the boy running down the stairs. This is when juror 8 began to question the man’s recount of events. As I mentioned earlier the witness is an old man, who also happens to have a limp that makes it hard for him to walk. After a quick recreation of the man’s account to get to his door to see the boy run down, he questions whether the witness saw the boy run down the stairs or, at this point, if he even saw anyone run down the stairs. Which goes back to the question Gerardo has. Did the boy do it or is he someone that the blame has fallen on? As the men began to change their votes, this possibility gets stronger.

I found a couple connections between this movie and To Kill A Mockingbird. The first is the idea that one group of people is worse than another. In To Kill A Mockingbird, the trial was between a white family and a black man. In the book, the Tom Robinson, the black man, had a white man to vouch for him and say that he was not like what people thought of black men, even though he was not on trial or called as a witness. In 12 Angry Men, the trial was between two people in the slums. While deliberating, one of the jurors was trying to say that because he was from the slums, killing was something “those people” always did. However, one of the jurors also lived in the slums at one point in time, and he vouched for the boy saying that just because he was from the slums doesn’t necessarily mean he is a bad child and a killer. This juror was explaining that even though most of the time it was usually someone from the slums committing similar crimes, it is not always someone from the slums. It could very well be someone from what society would call “good people”, and that he should look at the facts of the case and base his vote on that and not on where the boy is from.

The second connection between these two happens during the cross-examination by Atticus of Mayella in To Kill A Mockingbird and during the discussion of the old male witness between juror 8 and juror 3. During the cross-examination of Mayella, Atticus started asking her questions that evoked answers that pointed away from Tom Robinson, and more towards her father as the real perpetrator. In other words, she almost let the truth out, that Tom was not guilty of raping her, but her father was guilty of it. The same thing happened right after juror 8 made is point about the old witness being an unreliable when it comes to him having seen the boy running down the stairs. Even though no question was asked, and I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it caused juror 3 to respond, “half the time, the old man was confused” or something of that nature. Juror 3 almost let his true feelings out, that he didn’t believe the boy was guilty.

Determining guilt is very important when someone’s life is on the line. All three of these works shows different ways guilt could be determined. One by witness, one by prejudice, and one by refusing to be truthful. All of which could lead to a false verdict of guilt. Luckily, in the end of this film, one juror was able to convince the other 11 that the boy was not guilty.

Emotional Vacancy

I went into this film not knowing what to expect and not really wanting to watch it. However, that quickly changed after the first 15 minutes of watching. All four of the stories caught my interest, but the last story really piqued my interest. There is one situation that I was able to pick out from the last story. This is how Mbelo was able to deal with killing the young men in the “Guguletu 7” and not feel anything afterwards.

Constable Mbelo was one of the 25+ officers, and one of the 3 black officers that were involved in this murder. This was interesting in two ways, one being the fact that there were 3 black men involved, and two being the fact that he was the only of the 3 to come forward and ask for amnesty. My first thought was, “Why would you kill your own people?” This was the same question one of the mothers asked him. From the mothers’ point of view, he had no answer. But, from his jobs point of view, he was able to give an answer that was very unempathetic for the mothers to hear.

Mbelo mentions that he and Bellingan were not there on the same mission, and this was very true. He has to be able to face his brothers and sisters after killing their children. He says that he was following orders and what he did was not a personal matter. But how can you set up, and aid in the killing of 7 young men who are also black? Yes, I understand that he had an order, and was obligated to fulfill it, but how were you able to do this deed, or kill people period, with no type of emotion? I was not shocked that he was granted amnesty, but I still can help but wonder if deep down, he still has no emotion for what he did.

Zong!: Layout & History

These poems threw me for a loop. I was not expecting the layout to look the way it did at all. His was the first time I have ever read something with this layout, so I was having to restart and reread many of these to make sure I was comprehending everything that was going on. It made my eyes hurt a little, which I wasn’t really a fan of, but the overall experience was interesting.

My first impression of the layout reminded me of the concept behind blackout poetry. I forgot who said it, but someone in class mentioned that it looked like some information or the rest of the sentence was missing, which would go along with my thought of blackout poetry. I also noticed that the layout didn’t stick to one format, if that makes sense. Some of the pages were set up in columns, diagonals, ovals, and some that didn’t have any specific shape, it just looked like a bunch of words on a page, more so than they already to.

I really liked the line that she kept repeating throughout the whole essay. “There is no telling this story; it must be told.” I like how she recognizes the fact that the events that took place during this time is something that she herself would not be able to fully understand and write about from her point of view. Even though none of this happened during her lifetime, and the information she gave was from a person that may or may not have existed, she still understood this was not her story to be told.

The content of the essay was really shocking. In school, you learn about slavery and its role in American history, but not a lot, if anything, about it from different countries around the world. We may be told that slavery did not just happen in America, but that’s about it. We don’t get any other information unless we do the research, which most likely won’t happen. So, it was intriguing to read about how slavery worked in another country.

Representation

After reading through this twice, I still find Derrida’s, Declaration of Independence, I was still a little confused about some of his topics, but I feel like I got a pretty good grasp of some of his points. In Derrida’s text, he makes two good points about the signers of the Declaration that kind of link together into one bigger idea. This is the idea of representation, who is supposed to be representing who in this document.

In his text, to me, it seems that he has a problem with the concept of who each of the signers of the Declaration are supposed to be representing. It is pretty much common knowledge that each of the signers are supposed to represent the people of the state in which they sign under. But Derrida seems to be digging deeper into the idea that they aren’t necessarily representing the people, and that they are representing themselves and adding the people to their already decided ideas. (pg. 3) Which, if you give it thought, is kind of what happened.

Later on, on that same page in the next paragraph, he brings up the idea and questions whether the people who signed the document were already free or if they were being declared free at the same time as everyone they are representing through this document. This is an interesting idea because I personally have never given it much thought and never paid much attention in history classes to know if this was ever discussed, but it is interesting that he brings this up.

Tying that idea that the representatives were already free back to the idea of representation, adds to the idea that them deciding the contents of the Declaration were written to adhere to the wants and needs of the “representatives” and that they adjusted their ideas to make sure the people would be satisfied and not argue or disagree much with what they already decided.

Gender Power

Like many of the works written in the past, the role of genders matched the real-life roles. However, in The Furies, the characters did not keep their stereotypical roles of this time period in the play at all. In this play, the women had all the power, and the men were there to try and support each other.  

The first example of female power is Clytemnestra talking to the Furies about getting revenge. Through my first time reading through this, I missed the fact that the Furies were female. So, my first impression of this scene was that even as a ghost, a female still had more power than a male because she was able to give the Furies commands in their sleep. But this changed after I realized they were female.

In the end of the play, Athena is given the power to decide the outcome of what will happen to Orestes, is interesting in two ways. The first is the fact that she was going to have the final say if the votes come back a tie. If she has the power to do that, why didn’t she just do that in the beginning? I understand that she wants to give Orestes a fair trial, so the Furies don’t think she doesn’t want to hear what their side of the story, but the outcome was still the same Orestes was spared. The other way I thought this scene was interesting was because of how the play ended. After the trial, Athena and was trying to appease the Furies so they wouldn’t bring havoc to the world. This only happened because the Furies were not able to deal with Orestes the way they wanted to. But this was going to happen with or without a trial because it was Athena’s decision, so the trial wasn’t necessary.

The Furies also had a significant amount of power. They were able to challenge the ideas of both Athena and Apollo and not suffer any major consequences. The most important of the two would be Apollo since he was a male, and it is typically the male who has the power to do this.