Posts Tagged ‘heroism’

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I also discuss Star Wars as American war propaganda in my short book on allegory and metaphor (free).

NY Times:

‘Star Wars’ and the Fantasy of American Violence

The bloody track of American history, from slavery to genocide to empire, is plain for all to see. But reckoning with the violence itself was the appeal: I thought I could confront our dark side, just like Luke Skywalker, and come away enlightened.

 

The most frustrating reality of all, American youth who join the military despite knowing they are agents of immoral empire. They do it anyway, like mercenaries, content with swallowing any and all bullshit myths, even those from popular movies.

And that’s why this blog is here.

 

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Wow. We all like to think we’d run toward the danger and be heroic, rather than running away from the sounds of gunshots.

…the teacher intercepted the gunman as he paused, possibly trying to reload.

It was not clear if the student committed suicide or if he accidentally shot himself while in struggling with Silberberger.

Teacher hailed for intervening in Washington high school shooting

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Trouble in Panem

Unspoiled

You’ll definitely want to catch the next installment of The Hunger Games, which is done even better than the first film. The arbitrary shaky cam is gone, and the story is tense and moves along at a slightly faster tempo.  The characters are true to themselves, and the situation escalates from bad to worse.  Catching Fire played to a packed audience, and the crowd stayed with the film to the end.

Donald Sutherland’s stunning call for a revolution aligns with the story itself.  The comparisons with America’s slide toward despotism and a police state are intended and striking.  Even more so than the first movie, a lot of young people are going to be contemplating political messages embedded in the film.  This is not a neutral situation, and neither is our current reality.  While we are in no way as oppressive a society as is Panem, we edge continually toward it with each passing power grab in “the capital,” a place nearly as out of touch with average Americans and their plights today.

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What delights is the blatant shredding of propaganda, the political exploitation of the manufactured heroes, and how they are stage managed to placate the masses. The thinly-veiled propaganda techniques, such as those used by Stanley Tucci’s character mirror our own TV media reality.  There isn’t much difference except for the hyperbolic degree which Panem takes their messaging.  Our real world version is far more subtle, far more insidious and yet retains similar goals.

The family can’t wait for the next film, and hopefully it won’t be so long off.  Jennifer Lawrence remain truthful, beautiful and powerful, an icon for the next generation.

 

This is going on my queue.

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Joe Giambrone

All Aboard the Bullshit Express

Like everything else corporate whoredom shits out, the very nature of the language is undermined and debauched daily.  Concepts that embody morality and sacrifice turn into game shows for self-aggrandizement.

Heroism is now unrecognizable, the mindless commands of a steroid enhanced actor replacing intelligence and moral fortitude.  A bag full of money features in the teaser for this reckless show to risk life and serious injury so that one can perform on TV under the fake banner of “The Hero.”

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Enough of this programming, this Pavlovian conditioning, has warped the social fabric of the nation.  Heroism is itself a marketing slogan for mercenary militarists, Hollywood snake oil salesmen and skeezy “reality” show producers.  And so it is dead in this nation.  The true heroes are labeled state enemies and criminals, sent to prison while the pig ignorant couch slugs gawk on at gibberish like “The Hero.”

Modern American heroes include Edward Snowden, who exposed NSA mass surveillance.  And William Binney, who exposed NSA mass surveillance.  And Adrienne Kinne, who exposed NSA mass surveillance.  And Mark Klein, who exposed NSA mass surveillance.  Is anyone noticing a pattern?

And Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes, lies and deceptions of the US State Department, and is currently being tried in a military kangaroo court that won’t let him argue the actual reasons why he did what he did.  And Lieutenant Ehren Watada who refused to be deployed to Iraq on the grounds that it was a Crime Against the Peace, an illegal war of aggression, which he similarly was not allowed to say at his kangaroo court martial.

And Sibel Edmonds, the FBI translator who saw raw intelligence documenting massive US official complicit criminality and support for terrorists in Central Asia, but was fired from the FBI and gagged instead of rewarded and having her evidence used in prosecutions of wrongdoing.  And John Kiriakou who exposed CIA torture and was rewarded with jail time.  And Senator Bob Graham who would not let the 9/11 cover-up stand and has vehemently protested to this day the suppression of evidence of Saudi Arabian and other foreign government involvement in those attacks.

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There are heroes in America today.  But they aren’t the kind that Hollywood sells to children.  They most certainly are not the jackasses playing on the outsides of skyscrapers to make some cash in the service of selling commercial air time – glorified car and beer salesmen.  Such a bastardization and trivialization of the meaning of the word is an insult to every thinking person on this planet.  Dwayne, “The Rock,” should apologize to the world in shame.  That’s not heroism, Dwayne.  Not even close.

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Abu Ghraib defense team psychologist shows the “bad barrel” vs. the “bad apple” story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cMoZ3ThW6x0

This talk by Philip Zimbardo is one of the most important docs I’ve ever posted here.  Zimbardo is the psychologist who designed and implemented the Stanford Prison Experiment.  Talk includes the Millgram experiment and The Lucifer Effect.

He is s firm proponent of a culture of heroism, of having an antidote to evil systems.  Very good talk, needed in the world right now.

“A moral commitment to other people.”

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Well I was pleasantly surprised by this one, certainly a great popcorn movie, more comedy than drama.  But, I was wrong on which direction they were heading from the initial teasers.  Seems JJ and crew managed to pull it off, and even left some simmering issues to ponder over.  Thumbs are up (thanks Roger Ebert, maybe I’ll use this distinction in the future).

So, let’s get spoiling!

But wait – a lot of my gripes are just sort of dumb scenes, perhaps hastily written in order to milk the character developments that occur later on.  I get that.  It’s more Fi than Sci.  As a space comedy it’s up there with Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest, and so the added perspective on war and vengeance is delivered with even more resonance.

 

SPOILERS

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A Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

…But John Dryden said he’s not the point. He wants people to focus on the issue he raised: Whether school officials considered that students could incriminate themselves with their answers to the survey that included questions about drug and alcohol use.

Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

Warning lands Batavia teacher in hot water

Police state school administrator clowns think that they own your children.

One of the most powerful segments of radio you will ever hear in your life:

MP3 – The Man Who Stopped the My Lai Massacre

No big Hollywood movie has been made about one of the most defining moments of the Vietnam War, the My Lai massacre.  Helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson was the man who represented the United States of America that day, as barbaric monsters executed babies, children, women, the elderly, in a genocidal rampage that killed over 500 defenseless villagers.

Book also available on Amazon:

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Credit to Jon Wiener of KPFK (website) for going back to the archives and reposting this historically crucial interview.

MP3 Mirror Site

 

 

A definite cult classic, Raising Arizona (1987) is Nick Cage’s finest hour and one of my favorite movies.  I was glad to read the script.  Maybe I felt guilty over dissing True Grit the other day

This film is stuffed with dramatic material in every scene.  The central argument concerns recidivism, the propensity for criminals to go on returning to the lives they are more comfortable with.  The issues concern crime and punishment, the slippery slopes of committing ever more serious offenses, and the moral and ethical choices we make and which define us.

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Spoilers Below

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by Randy Shields

Hey Raheim,

Thanks for letting me borrow Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Blind Side. You really hooked me up this time. How did you know that Caucasian porn is one of my guilty little pleasures ? Having merciful, just, compassionate and brave white people always available and their goodness spurting off like Old Faithful, OMG, is so hot. Here’s my review:

I have to hand it to us: we whites are the most selfless, courageous, beneficent people who ever walked the face of … the silver screen. From pistol-packing white mama Sandra Bullock sashaying into the hood to tell off the home boys in Blind Side (how come those black savages aren’t doing honest work for six bucks an hour in one of Bullock’s millionaire husband’s fast food chain restaurants/plantations?) to the white gimp hero being made whole in his blue heaven of Avatar (white men can jump on Pandora!) and leading the blue savages to victory (after he and his kind brought them carnage and mayhem) to The Hurt Locker soldiers de-mining bombs unfairly planted by the sand savages (after the soldiers and their kind brought them carnage and mayhem.) The problem is always savages — savages, savages everywhere. Savages of every color and stripe (the Na’vi!) and not enough white people to save them. Whites! Carnage! Action! Salvation! Hang in there, magenta people, wherever you are, we’re on our way to save you (from us, after the introductory offer of carnage and mayhem.)

(Memo to white Christians: time to get couples counseling because, while you’re keeping the home fires and hell fires burning, the God you worship apparently hates you: He keeps carousing out there in the Third World and even other galaxies, giving away all the cosmic bling — the buffalo, the oil, the “unobtainium” — to the savages.)

I know you liked Blind Side, Raheim, but if you want a classic football movie check out North Dallas Forty with its humor, injuries, legal and illegal drugs, racism, sadistic coaches, greedy owners, groupies, the stamping out of individuality, and the camaraderie and love of competition that keeps players hanging in there to the bitter end. Should Blind Side get points because it’s based on a true story, this tale of a white southern Republican family that adopts a young black male who goes on to college and pro-football? Nah. It left me cold. I’m not interested in the America that accidentally coughs up a diamond every once in a while for our pleasure and pacification — I’m interested in seeing movies about everything that capitalism deliberately devours and shits out to produce that diamond or, more accurately, fool’s gold. Probably in the last 300 years in America there were a couple dozen instances of white people helping out black people — and Hollywood made blockbusters out of all of them.

In Avatar, put aside the white male hero character going off the rez — that’s too easy to slam — I didn’t buy Sigourney Weaver’s character trying to schmooze the tall athletic Na’vi. Wouldn’t the American empire have sent somebody like NBA Commissioner David Stern to see if the blue freaks could hit the turnaround jumper? The empire needs to be entertained too, you know. Isn’t an NBA commish born to negotiate with chief mercenary Stephen Lang, concerning the merits of a possible new expansion franchise, the Pandora Tail-Shtuppers? Even if Pandora was destroyed, a few Na’vi could have been brought back as “hardship” cases and been mentored and tutored about the discovery of their country by “explorers” Lang and Weaver and then suited up.

I’ll say one thing for Avatar, though: this film is a crack across the mouth of America, America’s military, and everything the American empire is doing in the world. Director James Cameron turned up the squirm knob on American filmgoers cuz by all rights they should have been cheering and whooping that the underdog Na’vi heroically defeated a fiendish aggressor. But there wasn’t that kind of cheering in American theaters (unlike foreign ones) because — oops, cognitive damn dissonance, these villains are the sacred and sainted troops whom it’s so important to glorify at all times. Avatar does not support the troops — and if it cost $300 million to put that statement on screen it was worth it. You can’t get that statement out of the mealy-mouthed “leaders” and supposed radicals in the antiwar movement. Maybe in America you can only tell the truth if you have $300 mil in your pocket. Or are completely broke — anything in between and you’re just a corrupt little weasel in waiting. Apologies to real weasels — we humans just labeled you really funny and it’s a great oversight that our names aren’t reversed and we aren’t all singing I-I-I-I-I-I am everyday weasels… Weasels… need weasels…

That said, Avatar’s not that threatening on a more basic level. A movie of noble savages saying a little prayer for each innocent creature they needlessly slaughter ( there seems to be a lot of juicy fruits on Pandora ) puts humans back in their cribby comfort zone. Humans are always open to the Good News of the possible necessity of killing something. Americans, in particular, can deal easier with their skyscrapers being knocked down than the true nightmare, the end times scenario: the cheeseless world of the scary vegans. To show you what America really fears, I offer you all the many anti-terror laws used against eco and animal activists during the Bush years (not so much a time of the Great Fear as the time of the Great Big I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn.) The words “soy cheese” and “tofu” elicit more instant hatred and alarm than “fuel oil” and “fertilizer.” (The best sequel to Avatar: an invasion by a thousand vegan missionaries brandishing Cornell University’s “The China Health Project” and Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights while simultaneously hunt-sabbing the Na’vi and dodging all of Pandora’s carnivorous creatures. Na’vi eyes would glaze over, preceding their surrender, as we vegans carpet-bombed them with sermons on non-animal sources of B-12 and the hoax of protein complementarity.)

Now the Hurt Locker does support the troops which is why big bad liberal Hollywood gave it the best picture Academy Award over Avatar. This tedious sand fly soap opera is nothing but war propaganda. Scene after scene about the terrible difficulties that invaders, occupiers, and war criminals face. After 90 minutes of murderous foreplay, America finally gets off: a dead young Iraqi boy has a “body bomb” implanted in his torso by the diabolical insurgents and our white hero can’t bear to blow up the dead kid so he basically does open heart surgery to remove the bomb at great risk to his own noble self and carries the dead kid to the safety of the American conscience. It’s so good living here in the White Imagi-Nation. Jesus Christ, we’re good people. We would never stand by and let our government kill one million Iraqis or turn another four million into refugees or destroy their country in a simple tax/wealth transfer from our children’s future to Lockheed and Halliburton’s present. No, we sacrifice our own lives, the most valuable and meaningful lives on this whole damned planet, to make sure that even dead ragheads get a proper burial!

O courageous Hollywood directors, there is a heroic story to be told about Iraq — it’s the Iraqi resistance, particularly the Sunni resistance. At one point the Sunni were fighting the great American murder machine, the fanatical al-Qaeda interlopers and the numerically superior Shia. And in the winter of 2007 with the chaos boiling over it looked like the Sunni just might pull it off and make Uncle Sam cry uncle. But American generals screwed their courage to the sticking place — and put the Sunni on the payroll. I often wonder at the mental gymnastics that friends and loved ones of US soldiers go through. One night we went to bed knowing the Sunni are depraved terrorists who plant IEDs and the next morning the newspapers said these irredeemable murderers are now getting our tax dollars (the “Sunni Awakening” was really the Pentagon Awakening to the fact that it was about to get its five-sided ass kicked out of Iraq.) But where oh where on earth is our revenge supposed to go? And who knew that there’s so much Christian forgiveness at the Pentagon! And no congressperson or prominent media person says a word — just get used to it you idiots, we’ll tell you day is night and shit is sugar and you’ll buy it every time. We’ll tell you who to hate and when to hate and how hard to hate and then tell you to stop on a dime and you losers will do it every time, even if the blood and limbs of your sons and daughters are fertilizing Fallujah. This government is bankrupt because you’re bankrupt.

The Hurt Locker and Blind Side are two “true” stories that paint a more deceptive picture of what life is like in 2010 than does Avatar’s 22nd century Pandora.

Anyway, Raheim, keep the flicks comin’. And don’t forget to shower the weasels you love with love.

Randy Shields can be reached at music2hi4thehumanear@gmail.com.