Media: How Do You Take Yours? ~ by Cynthia Land
Hong Kong Kung Fu has fascinated me ever since my father/family was stationed in Manila in the early 1980’s. I remember being both mesmerized and amused by a female actress handily beating on men in a roadside cafe scrap.  Fast forward a few years later when a co-worker introduced me to the work of Jackie Chan. This combination of choreographed martial arts and humor just hit my brain in a new and delicious way. Of course the movies weren’t all humor but the Kung Fu was what epically drew me back like a tide on a beach.  I made forays into Hong Kong directors such as John Woo and found I didn’t have the same love for his movies because the level of violence was so high I couldn’t manage it. The funny Kung Fu of Jackie Chan was obviously slap stick and I could compartmentalize it into humor but the outright anger and revenge of Woo and his contemporaries was hard to take. 

As a yogi, I'm hardwired against violence for the sake of violence.  However, I don't seem to be against a good wack up the side of the head in order to get someone's attention.  Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle (2004) is a master class in a good wack for comedic effect. Here's what I'm talking about. Kung Fu Hustle scene I will state that I was not a fan of the Ax Men massacre scene.  I know he had to go over the top, but that did reach my limit.  One of Chow's other movies, CJ7 (2008) is a howl.  Check it out.  Here

Yoga teaches cultivation of inner stillness.  Martial arts also has a long tradition of teaching inner stillness.  Many Kung Fu movies show the young acolyte made to head to some far away mountain cave to meditate for some impossible amount of time.  I'm seriously over exaggerating here but, after said impossible amount of time they perform as in this scene cut from a Jackie Chan/Jet Li film from 2008 called The Forbidden KingdomHere's the deleted scene. Overall a
pretty crap film but I enjoyed the fight scenes.  Which brings me to another amazing Chinese director, Yimou Zhang, who made Hero which came out in 2002. It has what is quite possibly the best martial arts sequence ever made, between Jet Li and Tony Leung.  I know you might not think of there being silence in a fight but I think there is a lot of meditative space in this sequence.  Decide for yourself.  

Now if we take these physical forms and move them into the mind we can see how we wrangle with ourselves in messy ways.  We wack ourselves with imaginary shoes, slam ourselves against imaginary walls and bang our heads into imaginary tables, probably to no effect.  And there's no laugh track.  Yoga invites us to study and practice the Eight Limbs and delve into ideas such as contentment and self study so that we feel less inclined to engage in acts of violence against ourselves and others.  Just like any of the martial arts, these take daily, sometimes hourly practice and are never truly mastered.  Something is always left to learn.  

I have often heard the phrase, "garbage in garbage out."  This comes to mind when I get into phases of watching TV shows I probably shouldn't.  I am unapologetically a  child of the 70's/80's.  I grew up on Laugh In, Bonanza, Gun Smoke & The Rockford Files.  So when a remake of Hawaii 5-0 came out in 2010, you know I was going to watch it.  Alex
O'Laughlin isn't hard on the eyes either.  However when the producers kept upping the violence ante, I finally stopped watching.  I just couldn't reconcile their use of torture scenes as entertainment.  They just didn't seem in any way necessary to the progression of their plot lines.  This also became true for shows such as The Blacklist (and I love James Spader) and Breaking Bad.  

Now I pick my TV shows a little more carefully.  Some would say; "Why watch TV at all? It's all trash."  I love stories.  I love media.  I read. I watch movies. I watch TV.  I just have to take care in the use of media.  If garbage is going in, then I can't be surprised if my mind is troubled.  I watch the barest amount of news, just to make sure I haven't missed something truly critical and then I move on to something more pertinent to my immediate life or something more entertaining.  

You may be surprised to read that I've been watching Killing
.  It's the story of two women, one an MI-5 agent and the other an assassin who have become entangled with one another.  I'm deeply intrigued by the psychology of the two women.  Each is obsessed with the other in ways that defy understanding.  The violence, while intense, is almost an afterthought.  I also enjoy watching books made into TV shows.  I'm watching The Discovery of Witches and Good Omens.  Both have Sci-Fi and historical fiction elements, ticking two of my interest boxes.  My choices must leave me feeling something but, what I'm feeling should not be dread. 


  1. Wonderful post, Cynthia! I grew up in the same era and I love Jackie Chan movies...and The Rockford Files (what's not to love about James Garner???)The violence has ticked up a couple notches on most TV dramas. I'm not sure why. I highly suggest you watch New Amsterdam...a doctor show but not your typical doctor show. It's more about the broken system than the resident-sex-in-a-closet or the blood and gore in the ER. Very true...whatever we hear or see is processed and usually what we speak and become. Thank you for your insight and correlation of martial arts to yoga.

  2. Hubby and I are on a Perry Mason rerun kick. Although the lines can be hokey, the plots are quite good most of the time.



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