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February 20, 2010

Realities of War As Seen Through "The Hurt Locker"

Politicians who want to make the world safe for democracy by sending in the US military should remember a simple truth: most of the English-speaking countries in the world are already democracies. That means the barrel of a gun is the only form of communication between the vast majority of military personnel and the people they are "protecting."

Apparently, making a statement as overt as the above is too political for today's movie-making climate. And the UN is just a place for terrorists to place bombs. It's truly fascinating to me that more people are willing to watch, in slow motion, excruciatingly boring detail, the tour of a bomb squad than are willing to understand the nuance of diplomacy and cross-cultural communication.

At this point, I don't care what you think about the Iraq War. I think it's a travesty that instead of trying to better understand Iraqis, today's war movies can only accomplish one thing: increase our empathy for American soldiers.

Compare The Hurt Locker to Three Kings: in this year's biggest Oscar bait flick, the most extensive Iraqi part goes to a kid hocking pirated DVDs. On the other hand, the fictitious depiction of the first Iraq War provided a look at both the terror inflicted by Saddam's regime and the cruelty of the "American liberators" (in that they abandoned their Iraqi cohorts rather than working to overthrow Hussein).

Oh - but there, I've done it. I must be a crazy left-wing nut to want my war movies to have a point, a plot, and a reason to care about the characters.

This post is not about how I think the US should have handled its relationship with the country of Iraq. This is about the depiction of war in the US: the rejection of nuance; the refusal to portray any non-Western character as more than 2-dimensional, and the ridiculous Scarlet A attached to any film that dares to make you think about the consequences of war.

I just don't know why I'm so surprised.

Posted by cj at February 20, 2010 10:23 PM


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