Saturday, April 11, 2009

12 Angry Men and personal tests of will power

I watched 12 Angry Men this morning, loving every second of it. At first glance it seems to be a rather simple story of justice, but if you look deeper you can see that it's really about the power wit and intellect can have over reason.

In the past, I used to give myself what I called "personal tests of will power." Take stairs two at a time, never loosen your tie, read something you don't understand, etc. Some have stuck around as personal habits, but after a while I began to forget about the little ones. Lately, however, I've gotten back to testing myself, mostly through school work. Henry Fonda's character seems to be doing something similar.
The kid is guilty as hell, and he knows it. He also knows how he can talk. He walked into the deliberation room having taken it as a personal challenge to sway the jury in the opposite direction, and you can see the self-satisfaction on his face each time a member of the jury switches his vote.

While Fonda's "accomplishment" is impressive, it is not commendable. He has convinced 11 other men to let a murderer walk free. It's just interesting to see how similar my acts of self-improvement are to Fonda's slight of hand.

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