Tuesday, May 7, 2024

#128 / This Could Be Pretty Fun

I have already commented on the recent film, Civil War. I expressed concern, in a blog posting published on April 21, 2024, that the film might be seen as a kind of encouragement of armed conflict, right here in the United States. Could this film portray a kind of "nihilistic wish fulfillment"? That is what I was worrying about, and I thought that maybe it could! As I said in that blog post, "I wouldn't want this new movie about "Civil War" to give anyone the wrong idea. I am just a little bit worried that it might."

It turns out that I am not the only one with this particular worry. Writing in the May 5, 2024, edition of The New York Times Magazine, in a movie review titled, "Gun Shy" (hard copy title), Ismail Muhammad, a story editor at The Times, speculates that the main message of the movie might be that "this could be pretty fun." Muhammad quotes Fran├žois Truffaut, as follows: "Every film about war ends up being pro-war: Whatever a director points his camera at, even violence, becomes appealing." 

Here is my appeal: Let's not bite into that attractive bait! As Muhammad's review says, the vision presented by the film "is almost entirely restricted to destroyed buildings and corpses." That is also exactly what we are seeing, every day, in images coming from Gaza. 

If nothing else is presented to us, it might well be that a considerable number of people will think that it would be great for us to "join the fun." Our former president, candidate for president again, feeds those fever dreams, conjuring up visions of what he'll do if elected to the presidency once again. According to a Time interview, former president Trump is calling for exactly the sort of federal government action - emphasizing the use of armed military units under his command - that would, almost inevitably, bring us into the kind of world portrayed in the movie. 

In one of the most powerful and provocative scenes in the movie, actor Jesse Plemons asks this question: "What sort of American are you?" That is before he starts killing the Americans who aren't white. 

As I say (and I have said it before, too, in a different context), it is very important that we realize the seductive nature of what the film Civil War portrays. And it is very important that we "don't bite." Some of the actions that have come out of the Gaza protests, and this movie, make me think that we do need to warn ourselves off. We do need to "fight" for what's right, but I am personally recommending that we take our lesson from the Civil Rights Movement

Nonviolent actions
Are one good way to fight
That's what I learned
In that movement
For Civil Rights 

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