Thursday, October 09, 2008


How many political conversations can be inspired by the movie Red Dawn? David Plotz aspires to find out (inspired by the news that a remake is in the works) as he spends a column condemning the movie for it's right-wing take on America. About 2 1/2 years ago a similar blog fury was inspired by right-wing (and idiot) blogger Ben Domenech, who claimed the movie as...well, the right-wing's take on America. I wrote this, arguing that movie isn't all that bad, but it's really not all that great and nobody should really take it all that seriously. Plotz criticizes the movie for it's "celebration" of fascism and the "warrior death cult", but that's just silly. I suppose there are some right-wing bozos may think that people getting ruthlessly killed, tortured, implanted with tracking devices so they can betray their friends, etc., etc., is infatuation with a warrior death cult. I didn't, and I'm pretty sure that I and the other people who did not turn into right-wing bozos who saw the movie felt the same way. The movie indulges a very boyhood-ish fantasy of running around in the forest and killing bad guys (a fantasy probably 95% of boys engage in...I know I did) but then it takes a very dark turn as the "Wolverines" and their Russian enemies each become more brutal in turn. The good guys kill Russian soldiers in a manner that has you wondering exactly how good they are, and the Cuban commander gains a measure of sympathy for the loathing with which he comes to regard his attempts to suppress the rebels. Plotz acknowledge all of this, but somehow misses the fact that the very brutalization of the conflict that he criticizes is exactly the sort of thing that will have the average movie-goer questioning the actions of the heroes. Perhaps I'm wrong, but no right-wing take on the American defense of liberty would even imply such questioning, even on accident. Plotz thinks Red Dawn could easily be a movie about Iraq, with the Wolverines analogized to the Sunni insurgents, but that would only be the case in the sense he means it if Red Dawn were more like an Al Qaeda propaganda video, ham-handed and over-the-top, conveniently side-stepping issues like insurgents betraying their friends, being brutally killed for nothing, sweating it out in the palm grove as they flee from American helicopters, or leaving watchers wondering in the end if the insurgency was really worth it. 

I see how it's possible for a right-winger, whose brain is not particuarly well-developed to register even the most unsubtle implications of a war movie, to misunderstand Red Dawn. I don't quite see how it's possible for someone like David Plotz to do the same. But I'll say the same thing to him that I said the last time I wrote about this movie; it's just a movie, I like it, and I'm not ashamed to say it. 

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