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Seduction [ 2008.07.29 ]

The only thing that my landlord (in grad school) and I had in common was the love for movies. We never talked much but we sometimes borrow each other’s DVDs. That was how “Manon des Sources/Manon of the Spring” came to me. I was so mesmerized that I went to look up the movie fact on the web right afterward (Hail to the Internet). I was horrified to find out that “Manon” was actually a sequel to another movie, “Jean de Florette”. I ruined the whole story because I learned the ending! (But to be fair, I think “Manon” could pass as a stand-alone movie because some background is told along the way)

For the next two months, I hunted for “Jean”. I was too cheap to actually buy the movie. I kept going back to the Urbana Free Library to see if the movie was available. But “Jean” proved to be a very popular movie, it was always checked out. It was a sign that I was about the watch a great movie (if I would ever get my hands on it!). Well, I kind of suspected that “Jean” was going to be good since the sequel was so excellent that the first one could not be just crap. It usually works the other way around though. Good examples are such as (I am sorry, folks) Shrek the Third and Spiderman 3.

Finally, after a long wait, I completed the story. “Jean de Florette” told story of an educated city man and his family who decided to move to the country and tried out their luck as farmers. Things were working out well until his neighbors plotted a plan against him so they could buy his land cheaply. Enemy disguised in form of friendship. Faces can be recognized but not the hearts. The story was slow but at the perfect pace. It built up a truckload of emotions and at the end I was more than satisfied. At the same time, I was appalled because during the whole movie I found myself siding with the bad guys and routing for their scheme to work. They were bad people doing bad things yet I could not help it but wanted to help them and worse I even wanted the good guy to die! That was how superb this film was. (I felt very corrupted exactly like I felt after reading Picture of Dorian Gray.)

“Jean” captured dark sides of human nature. I really believe that everybody has this side to them even for the good and honest people. For some it is easily seen but for others it is deeply buried. People like me…we are weak. It only takes a seemingly reasonable rationale to make me stray out of the honest path. I intentionally didn’t tell a waitress that she forget to charge for my drink because I thought that the restaurant was so much richer than me so they could afford paying for my drink. I stole airline pillows a few times because I really believed that these are complimentary pillows. I told white lies or omitted certain facts from my parents because I don’t want to hurt them. (It’s best if they don’t know really – usually the kind of things that happens in Vegas and should just stay in Vegas!) I comfort myself that these are petty crimes and there is nothing illegal about it. (My ex-boyfriend’s response would be “Yeah Right”) Besides, I have full on good reasons to support my wrongdoings. I mean I would do it again with not much shame!

Many people in my country have no shame either. Some people turn parts of national parks into their secret vacation homes (and make it legal). Others proudly say that they are elected by the people when money is actually changing hands. And many more basically just happily abuse their power to get rich and always get away from the word corruption. Well…I guess I can’t really condemn them when I myself am a bit corrupted…perhaps it’s time to change!

Wallapak Polasub (PhD), Professor: Dept. of Economics at Kasetsart University


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