I had a break yesterday to see one of those “summer blockbusters”, a spy flick staring Angelina Jolie called Salt. It had some good explosions and good action, but overall it was so outrageously terrible that I will reveal the entire cloak-and-dagger twist to complain. (spoiler ahead)
The movie stars Jolie as a semi-successful CIA spy, but, we eventually learn, she’s really a KGB super-spy, on a 30 year deep-cover mission to start WWIII. I don’t mind that this makes no sense. Oh, did I mention that she’s the super-spy with a big heart? Her martial objective is compromised by her love for her husband, an arachnologist who has about two lines before he is killed by the evil KGB spies.
So the worst part, which almost makes Salt worth watching, is when Jolie is on the run from her former team at the CIA and she escapes from her DC apartment but only after rescuing her little dog. Spy with a big heart, right? Then she leaves her dog with a young girl, while she goes to New York to start WWIII, but before she dumps her pet she has a little talk with the random African-American girl. (Whenever the action stops for talking in this movie is a bad thing…)
Jolie: Are you doing homework?
Girl: Yeah, math
Jolie: I always hated math.
Umm, hello character developers? Her super-history includes that Jolie’s mother (who she never met) was the only female chess grandmaster of her generation. Besides being a better role model for the young girls, it would actually make a lot more sense for the story if Jolie had inexplicably always loved math.
Unfortunately there will be a sequel to this spy-who-loved-and-lost. Maybe they can top the anti-math values in their first offering by having the evil super-spy loves puzzle like some of those Bond villains. Female super-spies succeed by loving puppies.
4 responses to “Salt: Bad Dialogue and Worse”
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Thank you so much for calling out Angela Jolie and the script writer(s) and director of SALT for their insensitive dialogue on mathematics. We do not need yet another generation of Americans who feel it is ok to continue saying “oh, I was never any good at mathematics.” You never hear anyone at parties or social gatherings saying, “Oh, I was never any good at reading.” or, “Oh, I don’t do vowels.”
There is an epidemic of socially acceptable mathematical ignorance in our country. What we need to do is just the opposite, to let kids know that ‘math is cool’, and that with math, you can do anything, build anything, invent anything, dream anything, create many things. I hope some day to be able to meet Miss Jolie and share these thoughts with her, and her director, face to face. It’s time for a math attitude face lift in this country.
J. Michael Shaughnessy
President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
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I’ve used this script in writing many papers about how to improve the way we teach math. I always start with the fact that we have got to stop making it so acceptable to excuse learning math by saying, “I’m not good at math” or “I hate math.” I’ve been saying this for many years before this movie came out so you can imagine my reaction when I heard the words! Very frustrating!