Small Screen Quarantine – Death Note (2017)

Here’s a good example of a film that I’ve no investment in either before or after watching it. Why even bother saying anything about it? Welp, for starters it got me thinking, are there any teen vengeance fantasies in film or literature that have anything approaching a happy ending for those seeking revenge? I can’t think of any and would welcome feedback on that. It seems to me that the stories always circle back around and what started with good intentions or even justified rage bites the perpetrator of said revenge on the ass in one way or another. Maybe that’s a good thing. Who knows how many teenagers would set about settling some scores?

I know there was a good few years of my life (read decades) where I had a pretty detailed list of who I wouldn’t mind knocking off, complete with all the reasons why and all compounded by years of resentment… and stewing over all the wouldas, couldas and shouldas. It was real humbling years down the line when I found out someone on the top of my list didn’t even remember my name. He lived in my head rent-free for ages. Funny how those things work.

Death note also got me thinking about how so many people, myself included, define karma. It almost always comes down to what any given individual thinks is just desserts for any other given individual, based on what can often be one’s limited experience with that person.

That view of karma as an extension of vengeful fantasy goes right into my other thought on the film. A brief plot note: Two teens who are sort of loners and outcasts find a mystical book and if you write someone’s name into the book, that person will die in any way you want. They see it at first as a chance to right some wrongs in their immediate surroundings. They quickly get delusions of grandeur and see it as something they can anonymously share with the entire world. They even discuss the ability to play God, albeit a death god, calling it, what people want:

A God that never lets them down.

A God that inspires hope that things can change.

Now here’s the thing. The film has already set it up that adults may speak in terms of moral absolutes but rarely live up to the words. The gods they’ve been given in churches are supposed to be all about moral absolutes but just look at the shit around the world. Teenagers, in and out of the film, actually expect moral absolutes with no shades of gray and no room for argument. Absolutism is what makes sense to people who are powerless and fearful. Of course, some people never outgrow this, and you see where that takes the conversation but we’re not going all the way there right now. That’s the way things go though. Growing up is learning that right and truth and moral can be kind of murky propositions.

Hey, about the film itself. I’m not going to say Death Note was a good movie. It was enjoyable enough and if one looked hard enough there are probably holes all through the plot. Who cares though It’s just clever enough to hold the attention. The revenge thing might be revisited at a later date. It depends on what I stumble across on Netflix or Amazon.

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