Saturday, August 06, 2005

Action Movies, War, and Empire

So, Holly and I and Trav drove up to the Bay yesterday. Beautiful drive... save the traffic.

Lots of NPR. A couple unrelated news articles that seemed to connect in my head. Let's see if they connect in yours as well.

First, they reviewed the summer film roster and told how each film was doing. "Action films are suprisingly not doing well this summer," I heard the reviewer say. Usually summer is the time for the shoot-em-up, good-vs-evil films. Apparently this summer, people were weary from all the violence. They reviewer wondered if this signaled a demise in the most profitable genre of film. I wondered if people in some ways are just tired of violence in the world? Tired of supporting a war they don't really believe in... and now that the blind nationalism has fallen like scales from most people's eyes, they are tired of the movies that seek to further this type of thinking.

I read somewhere recently (sorry, but I cannot remember where) that superhero movies and epic tales of good-vs-evil always surge during war/conflict times. The thought is that it reinforces the purposefulness of the war, reminds the public of the myths that serve the Empire... like remembering that Caesar was the provider of peace (through bloody wars usually). Hmm.

Second, I heard Prime Minister Tony Blair announce that those who did not seek to further the interests of England would be deported if they act out in anyway that is in conflict with the British way of life. This is all very reminiscent of the Sedition Act, is it not? Wow. Do not dare to speak against the Empire. Huh. Thank God that we do not live in non-totalitarian regimes. Thank God that we can speak our mind. Thank God that we don't have to yield to our governments as infallible. Hmm.

Then that got us thinking about the whole shoot-to-kill policy that England set up several weeks ago. I mean, don't get me wrong: what a tragic thing that happened there in England, but is this really the best way to handle it and respond to it?

I still wonder what might have happened had we as people in the West actually thought about why 9/11 took place... why the bombings continue. My brother-in-law says that now everything is so far progressed that many don't even think about why they are doing it, but at some point, it had real meaning. Real meaning. I think so.

While I would never endorse the atrocities that have taken place in the last several years, I do think that the West (and particularly America) could stand to do some self-evaluation. And most people in the West would say, "But why? We are so generous, and civil, and we place such high value on life, and we love freedom." But I would encourage you to look beneath the surface of those empty words. Our freedom is often built of the back and sustained by oppressive forces. Iraq might be a good example of just how far America will go to "defend it's freedom" and "ensure it's way of life." Or how so many of the commodites that we enjoy in the "Free World" are bought at ridiculous prices, leaving people enslaved in systems of corruption and poverty.

I read some of Bono's words that said that if you are going to fight a war on terror, make sure you remember that poverty is one of the largest forces of terror alive on our planet. And those are not empty words. I hope we will hear that and live, grappling with what the implications for our lives mean.

I do not mean to come across preachy or self-righteous or put-together, but rather as a critic of a system of which I live in and am a part of, but am trying to rehabilitate and redeem and... well, get out of, so to speak. Okay, I am out of breath, and it's time to leave. Ciao.

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