Friday, March 19, 2010


Self-indulgent activity #5: go see an action flick. These movies have certain rules that I like. 1) Someone gets threatened or shot with a high-powered rifle every ten minutes. 2) Cars or helicopters must explode at least once an hour. 3) You never cry.

These movies also have rules I don’t like. 1) The bad guys are Arabs 2) The other bad guys are Americans working with Arabs and 3) If Arabs are the good guys, they get shot.

Because I woke up before dawn this morning to see some horses, by afternoon I was ready for an action flick. So I went to see THE GREEN ZONE. Plenty of guns and Humvees. A whole lot of shaky camera work where you get a good dizzy buzz.

But just as I was deluded into thinking this was a typical action flick, a bunch of special forces soldiers start torturing an Iraqi. Then I realized that the bad guys are Americans working for the DoD. The good guys are Arabs trying to save Iraq from spiraling into civil war. And our hero is an American soldier who is caught in the middle. My, how times have changed.

It’s worth noting that Universal Studios considered the film a “flop”. I guess people weren’t happy with the role reversal, and a lot of people called it anti-American. (On my way out of the theater I heard some grumbling.) Michael Moore called it the most “honest” film ever made about the Iraq War. (Psssht! Okay, whatever.) The story revolves around the Big Ugly Thing We’ll Never Stop Talking About: faulty intelligence on WMD. In other words, an easy target. Blam! Brains on the wall.

Personally, I liked it. Although in the black-and-white logic of action movies, the Americans were just a little too evil, and the Arabs were just a little too righteous. But it’s not like that’s a new concept for people to chew on. The question remains: do other people beat America up as badly as we beat ourselves?

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