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Vyan Donating Member (990 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 02:51 PM
Original message
30 Days to change the Mind of a Minuteman


Reality TV is generally a wasteland of amped up game shows gone all voyeur on our asses.


Instead of spending 30 minutes each week (or weekday) watching a new set of contestants vying for some extravagant prize (A New Car - A Dinette Set - or maybe a Million Dollars) by answering trivial persuit questions, squeezing through a water willie - we get to watch the same people for 24/7 for 6 months.


Oh Joy.


But there is a reality show that actually has an extra Supersized dose of Reality in it - and that's Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days on FX. If there was ever a show with the potential and power to truly reshape hearts and minds this is the one.

Frank The MinuteMan from 30 Days:
"

This show takes one person with a particular ideological or political bent, and asks them to live 30 Days in the shoes of someone else they completely disagree with.


In the first season we had a devout Christian spending 30 Days living with and living as a Muslim in middle America. There are no guarantees, no scripting. Anything could happen. The visitor could change their opinion, the family/person they're living with could change, or neither could learn or discover anything they didn't already know or feel.


The season premeir this week featured, as the show usually does, one person with a decidedly Red-State-of-Mind in the midst of Blue Staters. In this case it was a Minuteman - fresh from the Arizona border where he had been doing his best to "protect this nation from invaders who wish to destroy it" -- who voluanteered to live with a family of illegals in Los Angeles for 30 Days.


Frank the Minuteman was himself a Cuban Immigrant, spoke fluent spanish -- but like many Cuban's (including Alberto Gonzales) have become since the Bay of Pigs and Elian Gonzales incidents - he was virilently right-wing. "The Law is the Law. The only right these people have is the right to be deported."


Frank moved into a cramped one bedroom apartment with a family of seven - led by Rigoberto and his wife Patty who had crossed into the U.S. 12 years ago bringing his wife and oldest children. The two youngest were born in the U.S.


During the first portion of the show, there were some predictable debates back and forth - mostly between Frank and Rigoberto's oldest daughter Armida (a 3.8 grade ave High School senior with hopes of attending Priceton) on the issues of immigration, and the relative rights of persons who've violated U.S. immigration laws.


They attended immigration rallies together. Frank :" These people chanting 'U.S.A' don't really mean it. And what's with the Che Guevara t-shirts - doesn't that represent Revolution?" He was pretty far gone. There was even on fairly scary moment when the depth of his anger become evident as Frank pounded on the table to emphasize his point that "Illegal Immigration is a crime".


The various members of the family tried, but they couldn't break through, as Rigoberto told his Armida - in spanish - "He has to make his own decision, you can't change the world". But one thing that Frank did respond to was the caring and commitment that the family had for each other, how generous and giving their were to allow him in their hom and how hard Rigoberto worked as a handyman collecting $20 to $30 at a time doing odd jobs to provide for them.


Not being a man of stone, Frank eventually warmed to them, particular Patty as he helped her pick up cans and plastic for recycling for small change ($2-3 at a time) which she dutifully put away into a can to help buy Christmas presents for the children. ( So far she had saved about $30 for the year -- and from what I could tell this was somewhere around May) When Patty spoke of her parents and Rigoberto's brother who were still living in Mexico and not being able to risk seeing them for the last 12 years - his children only remembering their grandparents dimly - Frank understood as an immigrant himself how heart-wrenching that could be, so he voluanteered to take a trip into Mexico to visit their parents.


While there, he had a chance to see first hand the conditions that Rigoberto's brother lived in. Decades of filth caked on the floors - "You can't clean this - it's just packed into the walls and floors". Cockroaches everywhere. He met the grandparents, and then Rigoberto's brother offered to show him where Rigoberto used to live in Mexico.


It was a shack.


Not even that, it had only two brick walls and a curtain for a front door. After 12 years the local plants had grown into the middle of the single room building. It had no running water. No heating. No air conditioning. No toilet. (They went out in the bushes). They ran a hose from down the street for water, and also had a nearby well -- which when Frank saw it had turned into a filthy disgusting mudhole.


It was at this point that Frank finally realized what the consquences of his "Just send them back to Mexico" rhetoric really meant to these people. He realized why Rigoberto's daughter tried so hard in school, why Rigoberto worked so hard doing odd jobs - yet continued to wish for the oppurtunity to start his own business using his mind and his hands. An oppurtunity he will never get without documentation.


He finally got it. Telling him wasn't enough, he had to see it for himself and then he understood. He wouldn't have stayed in Mexico if he had to do so under those conditions and there was simply no work to be had, no chance to make life better for your family - if there was no hope.


It was an amazing turn around. Not that Frank didn't still believe in our immigration laws, he did - he simply felt that some other options need to be explored. The situation isn't so black and white as he'd once thought.


If a man this hardened in his beliefs can learn to change his view, if he can progress and begin to empathise with those he formerly thought of only as freeloaders and criminals - there just might be hope for many of the rest of us yet.


The next Episode of 30 Days is airing tonight, featuring an American who had lost his job to outsourcing an decides to go to India to get it back. Future Episodes will flip the script on the Red/Blue dynamic that has dominated the show so far and place an Athiest in the middle of Christian Church, as well as an Abortion Supporter in the middle of Pro-Life group.


FYI I have no personal or professional affiliation with FX Networks, I just happen to think this show is far more than just a bunch of mindless visual pablum - it accomplishes what I think is the highest aspiration of telecommunications - to speak on issues that matter are important, and potentially very powerful. Maybe I'm wrong - but you all should at least give it a chance to see for yourself. Besides giving Conservatives a red-hot truth injection, It might even manage to change a few Blue-Stater ideas about the Red States.


The challenges and conflicts we face on many issues, from Religion to Immigration to Terrorism and all challenging - but not insurmountable. If we approach them with empathy and understanding instead of anger - we just might find a way through them. We certainly won't if don't bother to try.


Vyan

Crossposted on Truth 2 Power.

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Hell Hath No Fury Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. I adore this show!
I think it is one of the best things on television today, something that should be required viewing for everyone.

I missed the new season opening, but I will be sure to check it out on repeat. Thanks for the look! :hi:
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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hopefully I'll catch these on the repeat
I think it's a great show and I want to support Morgan Spurlock but I have to admit -I'm a diehard Project Runway fan and that's on opposit of 30 days.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
3. Apparently the guy has a blog...
and he was whining about how the show made him look like he started to change his mind even though he didn't. He was talking about legal action, blah blah blah.

I don't think there's any hope for these people.
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Vyan Donating Member (990 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-02-06 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. He DID however
state in his own words that he "wouldn't feel comfortable going back to the border" after what he'd experienced, and they mentioned that he said he'd be willing to sponsor Rigoberto's family - so was that done with animatronics and special effects or what?

vyan
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