Dec 1 2012

Emmanuel and the 7 Deadly Sins in Christmas movies


Pride makes Clark Griswold do stupid things in Christmas Vacation. In fact, pride is a driving motivation for Clark in all the Vacation movies. His gloriously ridiculous light show, buying things for his family before he has the money and hiding his fears and problems from his family reveal the pressure he feels to measure up to the man he thinks he is supposed to be. When he finds out about his bonus Clark feels devalued by his boss and is devastated, not only that he might disappoint his family, but that in disappointing them he might lose their love and respect. Christmas Vacation is a reminder that love and worth are not determined by deliverables.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington envies Santa and wants his job. Bored with his own role as king of Halloweentown, when Jack discovers Christmastown he finds it so much more appealing that he tries to turn Halloweentown into another Christmastown. Eventually Jack recognizes that he can take the imspiration and renewed energy that he found in Christmastown and bring that to the work he is meant to do. Continue reading

Nov 25 2010

Ron’s Envy and Insecurity in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1


We get small glimpses of some of the old crew from Hogwarts but for the most part the players in Deadly Hallows Pt. 1 are Harry, Ron and Hermione. While Harry and Hermione seem to be focused on battling Voldemort’s minions and destroying horcruxes, Ron’s battle is with his own envy and insecurity.

Ron operates under misplaced perception that status is a criterion for worth. Though Harry makes a concentrated effort to downplay his importance, he is “the boy who lived.” Hermione’s the smartest. He’s not the most talented quiddich player on the team. He’s never the smartest or most talented person in the room. In Ron’s family Fred and George are the funniest, Ginny is the most magically talented, and Bill is the bravest. On top of that Bill is about to marry the beautiful Fleur, Ron’s idea of the perfect woman. Ron has no superlatives associated with himself. He sees himself as an unnecessary add-on in the groups to which he belongs. Continue reading

Nov 6 2010

Toby goes to church in The Office


The Office went to church this week to see Jim and Pam’s baby christened. In interviews as everyone is filing into church Toby says “The Big Guy and I…it’s been a few years.” Throughout the christening Toby stands under a “You are Welcome” sign over the doorway of the church waffling between going in and remaining outside. After it’s all over Toby finally goes inside, looks toward the altar and asks “Why do you always gotta be so mean to me?” The depth of Toby’s misery is revealed in this one devastating question.

Disappointment with God is a common emotion. Toby has a number of broken relationships behind him. Divorce has breached his closeness with his child. Michael, his boss, despises and ridicules him. He’s experienced some professional set backs. He’s socially awkward and doesn’t have a lot of friends. Toby seems to blame God for his unhappiness and difficult circumstances.

I suspect there are lots of Tobys walking around wondering why God isn’t coming through. These people have two questions that need to be answered.

1. Is God good?

2. If God is good then why is my life so hard? Continue reading

Aug 9 2010

Sex, Lies, and Don Draper in Mad Men


He presents a slick, appealing image but Don Draper is a man on the run. He’s escaping his past by taking on a new identity. His carefully constructed persona earns him admiration in the first seasons. At work he is known for his creativity, good looks, and integrity.

Advertising presents an idealized image of a life that can only be attained by purchasing the product being sold. Advertising creates discontent with real life. It plays on envy and pride to create a desire to mold a life that matches the image presented in the ad, and to purchase whatever products necessary to prop up that image. Mad Men’s creator Matthew Weiner chose advertising as a subject, he said, because “it’s a great way to talk about the image we have of ourselves, versus who we really are.”

Don Draper is the personification of a man who is reaching for the image. He doesn’t think he can attain it as himself, Richard Whitman, so he becomes someone else. For awhile he succeeds in selling himself as the person he wants people to believe that he is. Even after his charade is discovered by a few people he manages to dodge consequences. He’s tried to compartmentalize his life, presenting himself as a successful, creative advertising executive and charming family man while feeding his alienation with lies, sex, and alcohol. But he can’t maintain the persona 24/7. While the excessive drinking is accepted cultural behavior in 1960’s New York for Don it’s more than social. Don’s lost and hurting so he self-medicates with gluttony (alcohol) and lust.

Just as he does at the office, Don is carrying on a charade at home. He is the image of affluent, upper-middle class America in the sixties. But his relationship with his wife Betty is based on lies. He’s married her and given her a name that is not even his own. He cheats on her. He carries on the social pretenses of the lifestyle but he’s not really engaged. Don’s personal emotional space isn’t just wide, it’s a chasm. Even with Betty. Continue reading

Feb 1 2010

Lost TV Characters and the Seven Deadly Sins—Will Season 6 Change How We See Them?


(Other Sinema7 blog posts about Lost are available at

Lost starts Tuesday. Hopefully some of the questions that have built up over the last five years will be resolved. I recently came across this article from 2008: Get Lost in the Seven Deadly Sins by Amelie Rosseau, on the Lost Media fan site.

And here is a YouTube video called The Seven Deadly Sins of Lost:

I agreed with many of the assessments in these. I think each of the characters, like most of us, have more than one sin that motivates his or her choices. Here is my take on which characters seem to be driven by which sins:

Pride – Benjamin Linus &  Charles Whitmore are in a power struggle for the island. Pride is probably the besetting sin of leadership and power. When someone thinks they know what’s best for other people and is willing to lie, manipulate, and maybe even kill to further his own agenda that’s driven by pride. Jack is prideful, but not even close to being in Ben and Charles’ league. After years of feeling rejected and victimized Locke’s ego has to be stroked by feeling special and chosen. Juliet is just a bit sanctimonious about being right, and she’s pretty sure that she’s right on just about everything. It is ultimately Eko’s pride that drives his unwillingness to repent of his sins which apparently leads to death by smoke monster.

Envy – Jin’s insecurity pushes him toward envy. Charlie struggles with the same sort of thing. He’s jealous for Claire’s attention. He’s trying so hard to restore his image and wants so desperately to be a hero that he tags along with those that might be considered leaders hoping to be identified with them. Continue reading

Jan 4 2009

The Seven Deadly Sins at Christmas Part Three


Envy – One-up on Christmas in The Office


We feel victorious when we score the coveted gift of the season so we can score the emotional currency by giving it to someone who will appreciate our savvy and effort. We may engage in bidding wars on eBay.  In the Christmas episode of the The Office, Dwight buys up several of the coveted Princess Unicorn dolls then in turn sells them for well over street value to “lazy parents” who waited until the last minute. In order to compete with his ex-wife for the children’s affection. “My ex-wife’s gonna be so pissed. And for once Daddy’s gonna be a hero.” When Darryl buys the last one, Toby is willing to pay him $400, twice what he paid Dwight and way more than street value.

In the same episode Phyllis blackmails Angela into allowing her to be the one who plans the Christmas party. She mercilessly orders Angela around, forcing her to  help fulfill Phyllis’ dream party. Angela is usually the one who plans the parties and Phyllis has been jealous of this. Angela’s prideful, superior attitude toward Phyllis has fueled Phyllis’ resentment even further. Putting on the perfect holiday event can become a huge competition. Continue reading

Nov 20 2008

Family Dysfunction in the Movies


I find awkward moments really humorous and dysfunctional family movies provide plenty of awkward moments. Dinner with the extended family usually involves lots of emotional undercurrents: veiled resentment, snide comments, whispered asides, and sometimes an awkward revelation. Here are defining lines from some of my favorite dysfunctional family movies. 

The Ref “I’ve seen loan sharks who are more forgiving.”

Home for the Holidays “You don’t know the first thing about me.”

Christmas Vacation “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

Meet the Parents “Greg, will you pray?”

The Royal Tenenbaums “You think you could start forgiving me?

The Family Stone “Are you comfortable?

Parenthood “It’s my kid brother, Larry, your uncle. Don’t give him any money.”

Continue reading

Nov 13 2008

The Theme of Envy in Toy Story

maureen is a fun blog for Disney fans. Back in 2005 there was a two-part article I found in their archives identifying Disney’s 50 Most Wanted Villains with the Seven Deadly Sins.

Part 1

Part 2

Here’s the rundown for Envy:

Ratigan –Great Mouse Detective
 Ursula –Little Mermaid
 Jafar –Aladdin
 Scar –The Lion King
 Stinky Pete –Toy Story II
 Yzma –Emperior’s New Groove
 Syndrome –Incredibles
Envy is a prevalent theme in many Disney movies. In thinking about the driving forces behind envy, Ursula, Jafar and Scar are all power hungry. Syndrome and Yzma are out for revenge. I tend to see Ratigan as driven more by pride and anger but he envies the Baker Street Irregulars. Toy Story II’s Stinky Pete is bitter, angry and vengeful. Both Toy Story’s are rife with envious characters but only Stinky Pete emerges as the villain. Other envious characters from both Toy Story’s that did not make the list are Woody, Mr. Potato Head and Jessie. All demonstrate their share of envy. Continue reading

Oct 17 2008

The Theme of Envy in The Big Kahuna


What we have looks pretty good until we see someone else with something better. Aristotle defined envy in his Rhetoric “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others.”  In The Big Kahuna Larry is in excruciating pain when Bob gets a lucky break but fails to capitalize on it. Often envy involves more than just wanting to possess something; it extends to having negative feelings towards the person who has what we want.

Three salesmen are at a convention to sell lubricants. They prepare a party in their hospitality suite in hopes that Mr. Fuller, a possible client, will come to  their party. Larry and Phil are experienced salesmen who have been in the business for some time while Bob is at his first convention. Making contact with Mr. Fuller is critical to their mission at the convention. Continue reading