Monday, March 13, 2006

Rambo

I was flipping around the channels over the weekend and came across “The Beltway Boys” on FOX News. It's one of those "fair and balanced" programs on FOX, but there's a catch – the so-called liberal agrees with the conservative about 50 percent of the time, but the conservative hardly ever agrees with the liberal. And even when the liberal disagrees, he's not really expressing a liberal point of view. So it's not really balanced at all.

But that's beside the point. What I found interesting were the movie comments.

Conservative commentator Fred Barnes was ripping on Hollywood for making “anti-American” films. He cited “The Constant Gardener” and “Syriana,” films which he said portray the United States as evil. I haven’t seen those films yet and can’t comment on them.

Then things got weird. He cited two films as the type Hollywood should be making as an alternative to these “anti-American” movies – “Rambo I” and “Rambo II” (as he called them.)

If you may recall “Rambo: First Blood” is about a Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD who shows up in a small town only to discover that his army buddy has died from Agent Orange-related complications. The Agent Orange exposure was courtesy the United States government. Then Rambo is harassed and tortured by local law enforcement and hunted like an animal by local Guardsmen. Of course, he’s a killing machine who was made that way by his government, something which the CIA agent sent in to retrieve him confirms. Rambo is a man who has been betrayed and nearly destroyed by his country. (I once heard the creator of Rambo give a talk. He said part of the point of his story was to show what would happen if U.S. special forces were unleashed on the American public. He also said at the end of his original version, the CIA agent comes in, talks to Rambo and then blows his head off.)

Is that what Barnes meant by "pro-American"? Or did he see a different movie? Or was he just talking out of his ass?

And then there’s “Rambo: First Blood Part II.” In it, Rambo is sent on a top-secret mission to Vietnam to photograph some U.S. prisoners of war who are still being held captive. But then Rambo discovers that the U.S. government has no intention of actually rescuing them. The government betrays Rambo and leaves him – and the prisoners – in the jungle to die. Rambo overcomes these obstacles.

Is that the pro-American type of film that Barnes wants Hollywood to make?

Of course, there's nothing necessarily anti-American about Rambo movies. They're just action-packed diversions. They're entertainment. I can't think of any occassions off hand where I would label a film as "pro-American" or anti-American." Those terms are too vague.

But if Barnes is going to use those terms, perhaps he should consider the content of the films he labels.

Barnes didn’t mention the last in the Rambo franchise – Rambo III. All I recall about that film is that Rambo works with the mujahedeen and almost single-handedly defeats the Soviets.

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