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An Oscar for America’s Hubris

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Posted on Mar 10, 2010
Oscars
AP / Amy Sancetta

By Robert Scheer

What a shame that the one movie about the Iraq war that has a chance of being viewed by a large worldwide audience should be so disappointing. According to press reports, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally found a movie about the Iraq war they liked because it is “apolitical.” Actually, “The Hurt Locker” is just the opposite; it’s an endorsement of the politically chauvinistic view that the world is a stage upon which Americans get to deal with their demons no matter the consequence for others. 

It is imperial hubris turned into an art form in which the Iraqi people appear as numbed bystanders when they are not deranged extras. It is a perverse tribute to the film’s accuracy in portraying the insanity of the U.S. invasion—while ignoring its root causes—that the Iraqis are at no point treated as though they are important. 

They never have been, at least in the American view. No Iraqi had anything to do with attacking us on 9/11, and while we are happy to have an excuse to grab their oil and deploy our bloated military arsenal, the people of Iraq are never more than an afterthought. Whatever motivates Iraqi characters in the movie to throw stones or blow themselves up is unimportant, for they are nothing more than props for a uniquely American-centered show. It is we who matter and they who are graced by our presence no matter how screwed up we may be.   

Indeed, the only recognition of the humanity of the people being conquered comes in a brief glimpse of a young boy, a porn video seller, the one Iraqi whose existence touches the concern of the film’s reckless soldier hero. The American cares deeply about the quality of the sex videos he purchases, but, as it transpires, he is indifferent to the quality of his own family’s life back home. Even that depressingly sad commentary on life in America is mitigated by the fact that it produces even more dedicated warriors. Maybe a deeply unsatisfying home life is a necessary prerequisite for being all you can be in the Army.

Yes, it is true, as Chris Hedges is quoted in the beginning of “The Hurt Locker”: “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” That’s from his book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” and the most positive thing to come out of this film might be that some people will be encouraged to read his brilliant book. But the film itself is otherwise an enlightened Rambo story: War is hellish but entertaining, and real men are those who will rise to the task no matter if its larger aim is absurd.

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But the real addiction to war is not that of hapless soldiers, those troops that the filmmakers insisted on applauding as they clutched their Oscar statuettes. Rather, that addiction lies in the lust for power and profit among those who sent the soldiers to Iraq to kill and be killed in a war known to our leaders to have been undertaken for false purposes. Invading Iraq became the obsession of the Bush administration after 9/11, as opposed to dealing with Afghanistan, where, as then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it, there were no good targets. The Taliban hardly provided as worthy an adversary as Saddam Hussein in our quest to replace the Soviet empire as a reason for our massive military expenditures. And there was the wan hope that the oil in Iraq would pay for it all. That oil hasn’t paid for any of it, but while U.S. taxpayers get stuck with the bill, the multinational corporations swarming over the place will do very well.
 
Bringing up such crass motives presents an inconvenient truth for those who believe that American foreign policy is driven by higher goals. For them I would point to the example of Clinton-era Ambassador Peter Galbraith, who became a cheerleader for George W. Bush’s war. His hawkishness was supposedly based on concern for Iraq’s Kurdish population even though that group was living outside of Saddam Hussein’s area of control. After the U.S. invasion Galbraith was an active adviser on the writing of Iraq’s constitution and lobbied to include language that gave the Kurds control over the oil in their region. Galbraith was at the time advising a Norwegian company that secured oil rights from those same Kurds, and he, in turn, received 5 percent of one of the most promising oil fields, worth an estimated $100 million.

Don’t you think at least one of the soldiers in “The Hurt Locker” would have known that kind of stuff was going on? If so, it’s disrespectful to our troops to have censored such innate GI wisdom.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By maninwarren, April 2, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

“Invading Iraq became the obsession of the Bush
administration after 9/11, as opposed to dealing with
Afghanistan, where, as then-Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld put it, there were no good targets.”

Wrong. Those in control of the Bush Administration
were obsessed with invading Iraq long before they
were in the White House, as is easily documented
here:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

and here:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqletter1998.htm

and here:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

The latter document also makes clear that without a
“catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl
Harbor”, none of PNAC’s plans of aggression and
“transformation” (their word) would be attainable. 
And oh, gee, they just happened to get EXACTLY what
they needed, not 9 months into their up-to-that-
point-absolutely-mandateless tenure.  Gee, didn’t
that work out for them?

http://9112010.com

Report this

By denk, March 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

itw

havent i made myself clear ?
isnt it obvious to any self respecting progressive ?
http://tinyurl.com/ybw3k53

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, March 19, 2010 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment


i’ve listed dozens of “fucking pompous” [why mince words, if u’re uncomfortable with it, dont use at all] assholes in my previous posts
may be u wanna share with us whom do u have in mind and why ?

************************************

Hmmmmmmm!  Who do you think is the FIRST one that comes to mind?

Report this

By denk, March 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

inherith the wind
**The difference is Leefeller’s bullshit is DELIBERATE and IRONIC and irreverent, designed to make us laugh and think and not be so f***in’ pompous and dogmatic! **


i’ve listed dozens of “fucking pompous” [why mince words, if u’re uncomfortable with it, dont use at all] assholes in my previous posts
may be u wanna share with us whom do u have in mind and why ?

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, March 16, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Denk:
Leefeller is our resident EXPERT on bullshit!  He can detect it no matter HOW much a condescending or dogmatic poster tries to hide it!

He’s like a guy playing a harmonica, expertly, in the silence just after a symphony orchestra has mangled a major work.  A PERFECT cup of coffee after an excessively rich and tasteless dessert.

He’s also like annoying a cat—and forgetting the cat’s pointy and sharp on five ends!

The difference is Leefeller’s bullshit is DELIBERATE and IRONIC and irreverent, designed to make us laugh and think and not be so f***in’ pompous and dogmatic!

Report this

By Rgyle, March 15, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

I finally saw the movie this weekend and can now say Avatar was better. (Guess
all the producer’s solicitous emails worked!) I’d sum up the movie as a well-made,
well-acted “days in the life of a super dupe troop,” and little more. Shameful,
when a much larger context could have been presented. But what can one expect
from and embedded, er, managed, journalist who likely had “movie script” in
mind from the start?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 15, 2010 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

Denkith

You know Angth plays the bag pipes and annoys people! Theemingly sort of like texting posth…th!  Even though I have a writing lipth, I do not know what would happen if I texth becasue my hand thaks?

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By denk, March 15, 2010 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

john pilger
**yanks are like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed bushit all day**

thank you for the confirmation leefeller

just one question, if bs is your preferred diet, why dont u stick with cnn or faux news and spare yourself lots of angst ?

look what’ve i done, like the chinese saying “its kinda like playing the piano to a bull’‘
buahahaha

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, March 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, March 14 at 3:52 pm #

It is nice to see another poster with a writing impediment like myself. It seems on my grandmothers side I have a Castigation background which supposedly has provided me with an inherent writing lisp.

It was a Yankee pleasure to read someone with a writing accent like Dink, especially writing about Yankee Hurbith, which I am eminently qualified to also write about.

Hurbith should never be thort sided, for if one is to be very full of ones thelf, qualificathins should require expericne in the matter!
**********************************************

You mean all those crazy dogmatic posts by fundies on the left and right?  I thought they were your inspiration to hilarious brilliance!  I think I enjoy YOUR posts more than anyone’s even mine! smile

Or, as Mark Russell used to say about Washington politicians: “Keep it up, guys. I need the material!”

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By Leefeller, March 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

It is nice to see another poster with a writing impediment like myself. It seems on my grandmothers side I have a Castigation background which supposedly has provided me with an inherent writing lisp.

It was a Yankee pleasure to read someone with a writing accent like Dink, especially writing about Yankee Hurbith, which I am eminently qualified to also write about.

Hurbith should never be thort sided, for if one is to be very full of ones thelf, qualificathins should require expericne in the matter!

Report this

By Gordy, March 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, I’m not saying that we live in a free society
and I find it impossible to add up whether things
have gotten better or worse overall than they were in
some other time.  I am only saying that it’s silly to
think ‘things are worse than ever’ or that history is
about to end with some kind of eternal hegemony. 
Yeah, I know that there are all kinds of obvious and
implicit oppression in Western society, but I have
been going around complaining bitterly about
everything all my life and haven’t been crucified for
it so far.  Maybe this is partly due to the fact that
everyday seditious talk is less relevant and
effectual than it was in the days of the Roman
empire, I dunno - I’m just saying, these things are
complicated; we should not generalize about how awful
our time and culture is - that tends to pessimistic,
circular thinking.

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By denk, March 14, 2010 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

why fret over a movie ?
your daily news is replete with yankee hubris, i gaurantee.

http://tinyurl.com/yf3rzwj

there’re dozens of gems in this one thread, i have a hard time figuring out which one is the worst [or best, depending on your point of view] hubris.

hubris 1
the prez of amerikka as the champion of hr.
since this is a pregressive site, i presume the irony is self explanatory ?

hubris 2
readers’ comment
**china has no right interferring in our INTERNAL AFFAIR**
again the hubris should be self explanatory
but with the yanks you never know, they are so full of themselves
ok i’ll explain, what would the yanks think if chinese claim its their INTERNAL AFFAIR to invite some puerto rican independent leaders to beijing to “testify” on the anglos crime against their nation ?
oops actually this is a moot point, coz all the puerto rican resistance leaders are either behind bar or DEAD , its kaput, resistance is futile buahhahahaha
http://tinyurl.com/y2unyn
http://tinyurl.com/yfztghl
http://tinyurl.com/yaej6jg


hubris 3
readers comment
**i dont support obama but at least he is standing up to china**
so when is the great man gonna stand up to ISRAEL ?
wait a minute , israel is just kindergarten stuff
when is the great man gonna stand up to .........this one
http://tinyurl.com/pmehpy
buahahahahaha


hubris 4
readers’ comment
**its good that obama didnt kowtow [sic] to the chinese BULLY [sic] **
oops, who is zooming whom here but china is the bully ?


typical uncle chupzpah bs
**Uncle has also long denied anybody else the right of self- defense once he chooses a violent course of action. When Uncle decided he was going to overthrow the elected government of Guatemala in 1953-1954, and organized a little proxy army in the then friendly-fascist state of Nicaragua preparatory to an invasion, the Guatemalan government’s importation of a shipment of small arms from Czechoslavakia caused hysteria in Washington and the mainstream media; that government thought it had a right to defend itself when Uncle was organizing for its ouster! The New York Times’s—and on and off State Department and Pentagon official—Leslie Gelb, listed Vietnam as an “outlaw” in 1993, noting that “they shot Americans”—who had invaded their country from across the ocean to impose a government of U.S. choice, but whose people had no right to shoot at the invaders. There is imperialist chutzpah for you. And of course Nicaragua had no right to resist the terrorist contra army under U.S. sponsorship in the 1980s. When the World Court found the United States guilty of the “unlawful use of force” in this case and declared that it should pay reparations, the court had obviously overstepped its authority and was therefore properly ignored. Only when it agrees with Uncle has it (and the UN) found its proper vocation. **
http://tinyurl.com/4p4g7h

here’s hubris for u,
reality is often wackier than fiction
u just cant make this up..

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By Inherit The Wind, March 14, 2010 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, March 13 at 4:45 pm #

...It should be known, in the end, my right to play what is to me a favorite video game “Spank the Virgin” should be my choice, and not for someone else to decide!

Don’t tell that to President-for-Life Steve Jobs!  It’s HIS choice what you can see and watch on your iPhone, not yours!  Big Brother Steve knows what’s best and is watching you!

Report this

By gerard, March 13, 2010 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment

gordy:  Don’t want to get into a “gotcha” argument here, but I doubt that “—now all that happens
(unless you’re really unlucky) is that your
production-company doesn’t make money.”  When reporters feel gagged and demonstrators are hounded with police dogs and herded into irrelevant distances in spite of obtaining previous “permits” and careful planning to decrease agitation and damage, it’s time to think twice about civil rights—or lack of.  Ditto so far as homeless people, women dying in childbirth because of lack of medical care, abortion doctors being shot dead, and profit-making prisons overflowing with people (of color) incarcerated for years on relatively minor drug charges.
  Considering the kind of world we could have if we only half-tried, we are falling far short. Lack of empathy is part of the reason, IMO.  Thanks for commenting. I’ll probably get on this subject again because it’s on my mind a lot.  I wish I understood it better.

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By Gordy, March 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Hey Gerard

Citizens were encouraged to empathize with the troops
and buy war-bonds.  This empathy was bound up with
having the opposite emotion for the Japs.  Humanistic
persons try to foster a general open empathy for all
of humanity.  This necessarily entails killing
animals for food and taking up territory; converting
raw natural resources into forms that humans find
useful.  Yeah, it makes apparent sense to prioritize
the more sentient self-aware creatures over the
simple, relatively unaware ones, but would you
volunteer to be the food of something more sentient
and self-aware than yourself? 

I don’t think that this age is less empathetic than
others - ordinary people feel sorrow for others whom
they have only seen on TV.  It’s a mixed bag.  I
don’t like this apocalyptic talk about corporate
hegemony and dehumanization.  People have long
struggled under various forms of oppression; unless
the environment gets royally screwed once and for all
I don’t see any ‘endgame’ approaching anytime soon. 
If anything I think that the exponential increase of
knowledge just might save us yet.  Not holding my
breath though. 

That got a bit off-topic there, but I guess I am a
bit tired of the way people often talk on this site,
like we are actually already living in Orwell’s 1984
- don’t you agree?  I think people need to get some
balance, some perspective.  Circumstance - fate - has
saved you from being raped by the hordes of Genghis
Khan instead of guzzling burgers and complaining
about the lack of good movies.  Hey, people often
draw parallels between the American and Roman
empires, and I’ve got time for the comparison, but
let’s not forget that in the Roman times you could be
crucified for sedition whereas now all that happens
(unless you’re really unlucky) is that your
production-company doesn’t make money.

Report this

By gerard, March 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

Gordy, thanks for your recent posts on empathy.
You make some good points.  1.the relationship of “feeling threatened” to empathy.  I agree entirely.  Probably that’s one purpose of keeping populations feeling threatened.  It keeps them separated and mutually unsympathetic.  2. Radical differences in culture make empathy harder.  That’s why teaching cultural differences (to the degree that it is possible) is so important. 3.  “Positive empathy that solves a problem today could turn sour and cause a problem tomorrow.”  That one is more difficult, but, for instance,  I can certainly see, not that empathy itself could be destructive later, but that an action taken in empathy could later turn out to cause more suffering.  Probably medical examples abound.  But ... that doesn’t mean empathy should not be acted upon unless the future results can be assured?  Or does it?  I had never thought about this, but on balance I hope I would act on the basis of the immediate situation and worry about the future later.  Yes?  No?

You are certainly right on “no magic bullet”, but ...
I mourn that so much of our own culture actively encourages lack of empathy.  Right now the rich corporatists are setting a striking example of that. (Not that we poor proles are a lot better because we don’t do what we could, by any means.)  Heavy subject, but important.  Thanks again.

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By Skinny Dog, March 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

The Headache Locker.

This movie sucked on several levels, all of which have to do with film-making ?
and story telling, irrespective of the political context (or lack therof) and
irrespective of the gross ?inaccuracies of soldiering procedure and reality, as
reported by Iraq War vets who have written a ream of negative reviews about
this flick. ?

The camera work was headache-inducing and committed the cardinal sin of
putting your attention on the ?storyteller, not the story. It all came off as ”real”
as a reality show, which is to say, it completely failed to induce an aura of
reality. (Rent a damn tripod, lady! Jeez…)

The character came ?in as a jerk, and left as a jerk. He didn’t evolve, he didn’t
devolve. He, and the dramatic throughline, was flat. Which means that the
entire story was flat. It wasn’t a story, it was a series of episodes, a ?depiction of
events, but not a story.

He handles a bomb, then he handles ?another bomb, then he meets the kid,
then he handles a bomb, then there’s the ?sniper stuff, then he handles a bomb,
then he looks for the kid (and selfishly ?endangers his fellow soldiers in the
process), then he finds the kid with a bomb ?in the kid’s gut and he gets upset
but handles the bomb, then he goes home and screws the wife and ?buys
groceries and bounces the baby, and then he comes back and handles a bomb.

Episodic tension is not drama.

At the end, he’s exactly the same as when ?we first meet him. It’s not a story,
it’s a character sketch. And so was Patton, you say. But as Pattons’ life
unfolded, we saw the dramatic arc of the people around him because of his
flawed character. But what about Hud? He was also a jerk from beginning to
end. But the drama in that story was the heartbreak and tragedy of everyone
around him failing to get through to him.

In this flick, his buddy got wounded on the romp through the streets of
Baghdad, and his superior got pissed and slugged him, but those conflicts
weren’t the focus of the flick. No teary-eyed wife wondering why her husband
is a zombie. No senior officer finally realizing that the hero in his platoon is
actually a lunatic. Yeah, the senior officer praised him, but the officer’s
admiration was never shattered later on. And you need two story points to
draw a plotline.

The movie was essentially – This is Adrenaline Junkie, and THIS is how he rolls.

It wasn’t a story, it was episodic journalism, scripted by (surprise!) a journalist.
Who didn’t tell a story, and neither did the director. She was apparently so into
the macho action (all captured on phoney-baloney “reality” cam, just like,
y’know, in actual news footage and stuff) that she never stepped back and
realized she was telling a story (or trying to) about a soulless jerk whose
emotional “range of change” ran the gamut from A to B. Which makes for a
crappy story.

The sniper sequence went on WAY too long, and screwed up the structure of
the ?rest of the flick. The “standard structure” of storytelling is called the
standard ?structure for a good reason. Some films can break the mold, but this
one didn’t ?have the juice to pull it off.

They lost a golden opportunity when he went on ?R&R – his kid at home could
have been a boy about the same age as the DVD kid in Iraq. Junior could have
tried to get his dad to play soccer with him, or he could have stumbled onto his
dad’s porn DVDs – a parallel to the boy in Iraq, who was the only other human
being the ?main character responded to. I dunno, SOME kinda emotional impact.
But Renner just stares at the bedroom wall, eating up his R&R, and then he’s
back de-bombing Baghdad.

Quite frankly, I spent most of the movie waiting for Jeremy Renner to get
blowed ?up real good. I am dismayed that the guild screenwriters nominated
this flick, ?and further dismayed that the Academy voted for it.

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By Gordy, March 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

Also, I bet you all the tea in China that cruelty is
second-nature whenever someone feels threatened; that
responding to another’s suffering would damage their
own interests.  Watch/Read Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The
Road’ - the man is needlessly rude and harsh to the
unfortunates they encounter; the boy has to appeal to
his empathy.  The man would normally be kind and
moral but in emergency circumstances he can only
‘afford’ to care much for his boy.  I feel that this
is a truthful portrait of human nature and that not
many individuals are endowed with the exceptional
compassion that will cause them to face down death
without clawing over their neighbour.

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By Gordy, March 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, I responded directly as well and said a very
similar thing to Rgyle.  It was just a quick
response. 

Happens that since sending that I got into a long
conversation on this topic and I pass onto you a
point that came out of that: empathy is a
psychological quality that you can have more or less
of due to conditioning and innate nature.  Love (in
the religious/philosophical sense, with a capital
‘L’) is supposed to be something that transcends
individual differences.  So maybe some hypothetical
Christ would be capable of feeling more empathy for
someone of his own culture and station in life
because empathy requires understanding and self-
identification.  But as one of saintly character he
would presumably feel equinanimous Love for everyone
and everything regardless of who or what they are. 

If you are looking for a magic bullet that will stop
people from killing each other, hope that Love is
real and attainable, because empathy is always
limited and subject to change - you can’t rely on it
to move mountains.  The positive empathy that solves
a problem today could turn sour and cause a problem
tomorrow.

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By robertr, March 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

I notice a number of folks here are perfectly willing to accept Robert Scheer’s interpretation of this film without having seen it themselves! How about watching the film and coming up with some opinions of your own instead of just having them handed to you? I love Robert Scheer and agree with him on nearly all things political, but a film critic he is not. I watched “The Hurt Locker” a few weeks ago and didn’t find it in the least pro-war. It may not qualify as an anti-war film because it is more interested in showing us what war is like for these particular characters (and war is different for different people) and is not interested in making a “war is so bad and we shouldn’t do it” sort of commentary or a “look at the evil George W. Bush hath wrought” commentary. I think we all know this war was a disaster from the beginning and Scheer is correct in his analysis of that. But I think the writer and director of this film assumed that viewers would bring their own context to it and did not need to be spoon fed opinions about the disastrous nature of the Iraq war. “Apocalypse Now” was subject to the same sort of criticisms when it came out, even though it is being touted here as a brilliant anti-war film. Many people didn’t think it was sufficiently anti-Vietnam War and some didn’t think it was about Vietnam at all. It is probably as much about Francis Coppola and the madness of filmmaking as it is about Vietnam. But back to “The Hurt Locker.” I certainly don’t think the filmmakers set out to make an apolitical film so that it would make money. If that was their intention they failed because the film really hasn’t made any money at all by Hollywood standards. So perhaps the lesson in all the sound and fury is actually this: Other than the people writing here, Robert Scheer, the Academy voters, and a few others, no one really gives a damn about “The Hurt Locker” or the truth of the Iraq War. And for those of you who feel free to criticize someone else’s work that you haven’t even seen, have you ever considered becoming a Republican?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Those damn Zionists! They control our country, the world and now the Oscars! Adolf, is that really you?

It is easy to critisize other peoples tastes in anything, never the less entertainment.  Though I support freedom of choice, this also includes my preference to agree or not. So if folks love to watch the beautiful people patting themselves on the back, at the same time humbly being full of themselves, so be it!

It should be known, in the end, my right to play what is to me a favorite video game “Spank the Virgin” should be my choice, and not for someone else to decide!

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Russian Paul's avatar

By Russian Paul, March 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

On top of all that’s been said, THEY HIRED BLACKWATER as technical advisors!
This private paramilitary that’s responsible for the suffering of many innocent
Iraqis. It just goes to show that these guys have no idea how to view the Iraq war from the other side.

this coming saturday March 20 will be the biggest anti-war rally in years, it is the 7th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, so please go outside on this day and let your voice be heard!

http://www.pephost.org/site/PageServer?pagename=M20_homepage

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By gerard, March 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Regarding my early comments on empathy:  Thanks to Rgyle for the only direct response.
  Indirectly, GezaEder, 3/10—4:47 pm mentioned:
“... a set of rules that let you appear as if you actualy cared about other peple, a distorted version of what decent human-to-human interaction should be.”
  “Rules” might be accurately regarded as the very opposite of “empathy”, as empathy implies a genuine feeling of understanding plus sadness, set forth in many eligious texts: “... Inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me”—an attempt to present a universal spirit.
  Contrary to all the self-glorifying American “exceptionalism” nonsense, a soul-less cruelty is becoming America’s trademark throughout the world.
  The vast bulk of American “culture” now militates against empathy.  Producing and selling soul-less video games for kids is the icing on the poisoned cupcake.

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By denk, March 13, 2010 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

surely an oscar for chutzpah is called for
http://tinyurl.com/yleo779

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By diman, March 13, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

I think all criticism is valid here, after all, the
movie was intended for us - the audience, and everybody
is entitled to his or her opinion.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 13, 2010 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

One thing I keep noticing: People keep criticizing the makers of “The Hurt Locker” for not making the movie they never intended to make.  Not sure that’s a valid criticism.

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By kata pfeiffer, March 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the commentators who did not think this film glorified war. In fact, it didn’t really glorify anyone or anything. If focused on an adrenaline junkie. This character may or may not reflect any actual military personnel, but his archetype is that of a person who needs constant extreme stimulation to feel alive. Race car drivers and pilots come to mind as well as people who work around extreme danger of any time.

I think that Bob Sheer - one of my all time heroes - totally missed what I took to be the sub-text of the story - the utter despair, distain, and hatred which the Iraqi people feel for the US military and its efforts. There is a total emptiness and desolation in the film that is quite omnipresent. I did not feel that this film glorified war nor did it condemn war. It focused on a character study of men under stress.

For those who are disturbed by inaccuracy you need to try and remember that art is art not documentary. Most of what is real is boring unless edited and reconstructed for dramatic presentation. Costume designers also sometimes make mistakes - through oversight or pressure to do something quickly. Films are the most complex art forms of our time. Many things which viewers interpret as deliberate distortions of truth are done for artistic impact and have no agenda - though it’s popular to attribute ideological motive to all forms of art.

As to the relative merits of this film and the others in the Oscars, I understand why the Academy members voted for it. Avatar’s effects were remarkable but the actors were essentially animated. The plot was hackneyed to say the least. The Hurt Locker focused on intimate human drama set in unusual circumstances -  people pushed to their limit. I think that the Academy appreciated this. It was not a big studio film - that also encouraged the Academy members I’m sure. It had an original screen play and plot. I myself would have voted for Inglorious Bastards or Up - but I’m not an Academy member! Peace.

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By Mark Coats, March 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Avatar was mocked all night at the Oscars but I would have rather seen it win.  I thought it was a great movie and for all of its flaws it had an unambiguously anti-imperialist message as opposed to The Hurt Locker.

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By Rgyle, March 12, 2010 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Gerard: I apologize for the late response as I had tried to send this 2 days ago but the comment/registration was not functioning properly, for me anyway.

Good observations. Best way to find out how the mind works is watch it
work. I’d say the belief in the personal individual idea is a great cause for less
empathy, unless it’s self-empathy. Are you, at the core, a person? Are you even a
mind? Who, or better yet, what, is noticing the person or the mind? Getting
beyond the separatist “me” idea/belief expands natural empathy to include
everything, everyone. Clarity, understanding - even love - come much more
easily. How do I know? I watch my mind daily and find something else; something
that is not a thing, not separate.

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By Gordy, March 12, 2010 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

Geza, I’ve been having login problems as well - glad
it’s not just me. 

Maybe you got the wrong idea when I said that we
can’t aspire to live in a politically correct world. 
I agree with what you said about PC being a mask for
the common decency that we should reasonably expect
from everyone; I would not be surprised to find that
a racist media man came up with the term in order to
justify gollywog dolls and proponents of the view
that Africans are congenitally stupid. 

Nevertheless I borrowed the term (now in popular
usage) to say that we will never live in a society in
which all misleading/evil memes will be purged from
the mass media, so we will always have to cultivate a
critical mind that can enjoy what’s to be enjoyed
while simultaneously objecting to what is wrong. 

You already do this with your own mind anyway. 
Everyone has unpleasant thoughts and desires every
day and a smart self-aware person is aware of them
without freaking out, suppressing everything, or
acting out on them in harmful ways.  Perhaps there
are saints out there will 100% clean minds and maybe
up a mountain somewhere there is an analogous Shangri
La society but we won’t achieve either by
suppression, so the question of whether video games
like COD are offensive - yeah, but I wouldn’t try to
ban them; I’d just refuse to be politically
influenced by them or defend them in a public forum.

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By omygodnotagain, March 12, 2010 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

War is diplomacy conducted by ot er means. It is institutionalized violence to get what the other will not agree to. In the ME what Israel wants it gets, the humiliation of Joe Biden demonstrated. The Academy is just another Israeli pressure group. Disney’s largest shareholder Shamrock Holdings is based in Tel Aviv

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By boldnanexh, March 12, 2010 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

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By Skinny Dog, March 12, 2010 at 12:10 am Link to this comment

The only reason this film won the awards it did is that liberal Hollywood wanted to
make a statement, or assuage its guilt about not making a Platoon- or
Apocalypse Now-quality flick about Iraq. Because this one ain’t it.

This movie sucked on several levels, all of which have to do with film-making
and story telling, irrespective of political context, and irrespective of the gross
inaccuracies of soldiering procedure and reality as reported by Iraq War vets.
The camera work was headache-inducing and put your attention on the
storyteller, not the story. (Rent a damn tripod, lady! Jeez…) The character came
in as a jerk, and left as a jerk. He didn’t evolve, he didn’t devolve. He, and
therefore the dramatic throughline, was flat.

The entire story was flat - it wasn’t a story, it was a series of episodes, a
depiction of events, but not a story. He handles a bomb, then he handles
another bomb, then he meets the kid, then he handles a bomb, then there’s the
sniper stuff, then he handles a bomb, then he looks for the kid (and selfishly
endangers his fellow soldiers in the process), then he finds the kid with a bomb
in his gut and he handles a bomb, then he goes home and screws the wife and
goes out for groceries, and bounces the baby, and then he comes back and handles a bomb…

And this is dramatic because…?

Throughout the entirety of the movie, he’s exactly the same as he was when
we first meet him. Where’s the story? There isn’t one. It wasn’t a story, it was
reporting, scripted by (surprise!) a reporter. Who can’t tell a story, and the director was apparently so into the groovy action (all captured on phoney-baloney “reality” cam, just like in, like, news footage and stuff, y’know?) that she never stepped back and realized she was telling a story (or trying to) about a soulless jerk whose emotional “range of change” ran the gamut from A to B. Which makes for a crappy story.

The sniper sequence went on WAY too long, and screwed up the structure of the
rest of the flick. The “standard structure” of storytelling is called the standard
structure for a good reason. Some films can break the mold, but this one didn’t
have the juice to pull it off. They lost a golden opportunity when he went on
R&R - his kid at home should have been a boy about the same age of the porn
seller in Iraq. And Junior should have tried to get his dad to play soccer with him - some
sort of parallel to the boy in Iraq, who was the only other human being the
main character responded to.

Quite frankly, I spent most of the movie waiting for Jeremy Renner to get blowed
up real good. I am dismayed that the guild screenwriters nominated this flick,
and further dismayed that the Academy voted for it.

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By Tony Duncan, March 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with much of Robert Scheer’s analysis. And I almost always find his views
to be insightful and based in reality.
  However I know Peter Galbraith and have been following this story since it first
surfaced last year. From what I know of his role in Iraq and Afghanistan Mr.
Scheer’s assertions are based totally on innuendo, and border on slander. I may
be wrong, and would be willing to consider any credible sources of information
that backup his various contentions about Mr. Galbraith.
  While I know Peter and consider him to be a friend, I have had very little
contact with him for many years, and our politics are quite different. He is a
pretty mainstream Democrat and I consider Bernie Sanders to be a moderate
Republican.
    I have read all his articles in NYRB and have listened to two lectures he gave
in VT, and in none of them does he mention anything about initially supporting
the war. He has been extremely critical of the war and it’s devastating effects on
Iraq, as well as the disastrous consequences for US foreign policy. His attacks on
the Bush administration’s war policy were as devastating and as accurate as any I
have read or heard anywhere else.
  He has been a leading advocate for Kurdish autonomy since he forced the
Reagan Administration and the Democratic congress to admit that our ally,
Saddam Hussein had gassed and killed thousands of his own people. He has
been involved in Kurdistan fairly constantly, and become a trusted friend of
many kurds since that time. He is one of the few Americans that they know who
actually cares about their interests with an actual ability to influence their future.
So it is natural that someone with his political connections would be an advisor
to the regional government and be involved in supporting Kurdish political and
economic aspirations.
  Peter’s wife is Norwegian, and he lives there part of the year, so it is not
surprising that he would have connections to oil companies there when he is
known to be so involved with Iraq, which has huge oil reserves.
    I don’t know the details of his business dealings, but again, I see no conflict
at all with his advising the Kurds and being a businessman. He says he had
nothing to do with the parts of the constitution regarding oil, and that his part
in negotiations was before he had made this oil deal. That his sole concern and
efforts were towards getting the Kurds the best outcome that they could in a
new Iraq. There is nothing I have seen that leads me to believe that is not the
case. Are the terms of the oil deal with DNO unusual in any way? Is his financial
interest deleterious to the Kurdish people? I don’t know and I doubt Mr. Sheerer
does either.
    In my view Mr. Galbraith is being punished for embarrassing the US and the
UN for trying to paper over a huge fraud in the Afghan election. A fraud that the
facts fully confirm. A fraud that the UN team was specifically sent to expose if it
occurred. Peter did the ethical thing and blew the whistle on this, and he made
enemies who looked until they found something they could use against him.
I understand Mr. Scheers disdain toward american imperialists who go to foreign
countries and rape them of their natural resources. I just don’t see that this is
such a case.
  In other words I think Mr. Scheer has allowed himself to be duped by the
neocons and other interests that want to silence those that will actually stand up
and say the emperor has no clothes. Peter Galbraith has done this about the
gassing of the Kurds. The war in Yugoslavia, The war in Iraq, and now the farce
of an election in Afghanistan. He may have taken advantage of his position to
make a lot of money (if true), but if so, the people he did it to are more than
grateful, considering what he has helped accomplish for them in 30 years.

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By TrueEarth, March 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Totally agree with Mr. Scheer.

Personally, I will not waste my time or money to watch the piece of crap that won the Oscar.

Avatar was incredible film with an anti-war message. Yes, it was a great action movie, too: but it had characters you could care about and it was emotionally real to the point where my buddy and I who saw it together could admit that it made us cry a couple times.

Instead the Oscar goes to a film glorifying war, and particularly our role in the horror of the Iraq War ‘W’ launched so he could play with his military toys and pretend like he’s a real American President!?

To see the Director holding 2 Oscars and twice giving the obligatory “support our troops” speech made me want to throw up. I won’t watch her next film, either - I don’t care what it’s about.

I hope the true story of who’s doing what to who will come out so we can learn why The Academy has chosen to align itself with the most despicable form of ‘political correctness’ instead of honoring the true art of Avatar - or any other film besides this one!

Was it just time to honor a woman director? Is it an honor for women that the only female director to win an Oscar got it for making a man’s film?

I’m a guy who likes all kinds of movies - including ‘chick’ flicks. My opinion is that this award is really a slap in the face for women because The Academy has ignored countless ‘feminine’ films made by real women and instead is saying, “See, you women can make a superficial action flick as good as us guys. Maybe you all should give up on making your silly little films about relationships and love and fluffy bunnies and get to work making mindless movies about wars and monsters! Then we’ll let you be part of the good ol’ boys club!”

I hope James Cameron will make his next film in India or China (they’re building a state-of-the-art ‘Hollywood’ in Kumming) and tell Hollywood to stick it.

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By Stevan, March 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I watched this film last summer and was impressed with it; for me, by not taking sides, instead showing what is ... this film is antiwar.  Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder, but this column missed my take on the film by a 1000 miles.

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By RandiWorks, March 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Hurt Locker (catchy title) had all of the bells and whistles exploiting war,cashing in on macho/heroism held near and dear to the “myth”, and the need to identify with boy toys. I agree with the author of the article. I heard comments from people in the peace community rave. I am quite alarmed at their captivation.

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By RandiWorks, March 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Hurt Locker (catchy title) had all of the bells and whistles exploiting war,cashing in on macho/heroism held near and dear to the “myth”, and the need to identify with boy toys. I agree with the author of the article. I heard comments from people in the peace community rave. I am quite alarmed at their captivation.

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By Maxpey, March 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wish people would view the movie before commenting on whether Robert Scheer was correct in his interpretation.  Personally, I don’t think Mr. Scheer looked beyond the plot when arriving at his conclusion that the movie was ‘no more than an enlightened Rambo story…’  One continuing theme that I saw throughout the movie was the demoralizing and debilitating effect that combat has on the soldiers’ psyche.  The final scenes make that pretty clear.  Jeremy Renner’s character was so addicted to the adrenaline rush he got from his job as a member of an EOD unit that he voluntarily walked away from his wife and child to return to combat.  That a man would abandon his family for the adrenaline rush of war is one of the tragedies of war that Kathryn Bigelow was trying to convey.

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By Chris Bieber, March 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No one mentions the other movie…Avatar.

It, like the first 15 minutes “Private Ryan” and the last 15 minuts of “Glory” show what war and militarism is and does.

The putting on a pedestal(MPAA awards) of the military, under the guise of fairness and patriotism, is a the fruit of the seed of warmongering and megalomania.

America and Americans has been conditioned very successfully in that…..

Orwell’s imagery/warning against the militarization of society and culture is falling on fewer and fewer ears.

I hope there is still time left to say NO to the conditioning.

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By RockLibertyWarrior, March 11, 2010 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Too many people seem to think this movie is “pro war” but I got the opposite sentiment when viewing this film. The movie showed how the adrenaline becomes a addiction. The main character is like a junkie who is trying to cut drugs cold turkey when he comes back to his family from the Iraq war disabling road side bombs. The end sickened me and that is what I got from it. This movie can’t win either with the pro war people. I have read on various web sites the movie was “anti military, anti American, anti patriotic, pro enemy, pro Islamic” etc. However people should give this movie another viewing, read the quote at the beginning, and let the ending sink in. Then maybe you’ll see what the message of the movie really was.

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By ofersince72, March 11, 2010 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

thanks to sheer for his article and to diamond
for his post

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By MiBu, March 11, 2010 at 2:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There were some inaccuracies in the movie but the long segment where the actor has his name tape and US Army tape reversed was too much.  If they can’t get the uniforms right, it cheapens the plot.

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By Eugene Costa, March 11, 2010 at 1:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer is on target.

Worthless as a film save perhaps as an illustration of Marcuse’s theory of surplus repression, now “Christianized” into a violence and aggression supposedly aimed at the demons’ (they are always demons) roadside bombs, planted rather than dropped only because they have no U.S. Air Force.

DePalma’s Redacted will persist long after white-eyed trash like this and the hypocritical, arrogant moguls behind it are buried in the sand beside Ozymandias.

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By PSmith, March 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AND THE OSCAR FOR BEST FILM CRITIC ... GOES TO ... EILEEN JONES, OF ‘THE EXILED’

“I woke up for the second morning in a row with a vague feeling that something terrible had happened. Then I remembered I watched the Oscars.”

“It didn’t strike me at the time, because the Academy Awards ceremony is when I vacuum and find excuses to hammer nails into walls and things.”

“(Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director? HAH-ha ha ha ha! Well, it would be funny if it weren’t so sickening. That pompous she-git, Bigelow never did another decent thing after Near Dark. God damn! You ever try to sit through Blue Steel? I dare you! Why didn’t you just give the award to Barbra Streisand when you had the chance to honor a grotesque token-female director, Academy?)”

From ‘Toxic Shock - Delayed Reaction to the Oscars,’ by Eileen Jones, March 9, 2010 - The Exiled -

http://exiledonline.com/toxic-shock-delayed-reaction-to-the-oscars/

THE EXILED
A low class rag of extreme cynicism and gallows humour - so you’ll probably love it. It sees _entirely_ through the US Reality Distortion Field—tm Steve Jobs of Apple. Marketing genius but truth? HA!—as only those who have travelled or lived abroad can do (*1).

The Exiled - A low class rag that never fails to beat the dead Neocon horse—further to death—and to celebrate American heroes. Sort of. From the in-no-way-loyal-opposition, the fearless muckrakers and the invective-spewing, not-goosestepping-in-formation-into-oblivion reprobates of the Exiled. -

http://exiledonline.com/

NEOCON NAZIS - EIN REICH, EIN VOLK, EIN BATHWATER
Tea-Partiers of the USA salute their leader - Comrade Cheney - For it is he! ER, actually it’s Goosestepping-into-oblivion - the German version. Before the Neocon remake. -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMGWWr00Q0k

Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer - The inspiration for Our Dear Leader, All Hail Comrade Cheney. -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV71QNHnNMQ

The ladies of The Tea Party are taught to deal with Neocon-SA members, in the infamous Night of the Long Chiffon Scarves, somewhere in the Confederacy of Dunces, ER, Tea Party Land (*2) - the land where the only virgins are sisters that can run faster than their brothers. - @2.43

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkP_eYtrF6I#t=01m18s

Illegitimi non carborundum - The Neocons’s Princess Erika (Prince) of Bathwater as ‘Mr. Bimmler’ - After the War - Monty Python -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVxM5IBLeU4#t=02m35s

American Hero - Robert Sylvester - 2 GOOD 4 SAINTHOOD - The Exiled - Looking good to the last minute - Warning - Cigarettes can damage your health - not least by slowing your reaction times down to lethal levels. -

http://exiledonline.com/daily-inquisition-2-good-4-sainthood/#more-3593

The Exiled - http://exiledonline.com/

(*1) A clear view through the US Reality Distortion Field - Information Clearing House -

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

(*2) Tea Party Land
Noam Chomsky says that the Tea-Partiers’s arguments are valid - they _are_ ‘screw-ees,’ but they are then told that the ‘screw-ers’ are socialists, liberals and Democrats. Instead of the real culprits - the GOP Neocon Re-thuglican elite. Aka the Property Party,—with two right wings—Democrat and Republican, says Gore Vidal. For which brainwashing, thank you the US MSM.

Why, asks Noam, are liberals and progressives not reaching out to the Tea-Partiers and making common cause with them, because both groups are being screwed by the same thieves, murderers, torturers and genocidaires? Well OK. I guess! But can we at least slag them off anonymously first???

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By jsper, March 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment

Robert Scheer always gets it right. I didn’t see the film suspecting that it would be as he has pointed out. No empathy for the Iraqis as their country has been raised to the ground and 3 million of their citizen refugees in Syria.
And where the hell was Micheal Moore’s documentary exposing the thieves still at large on Wall St? Not a mention?
Greetings to all the people who read this blog. Who have a heard a soul and a brain. And huge thanks to the wonderful writers for their contributions to keep us thinking. Love you guys!

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By Nobody, March 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought Hurt Locker was good because it showed everyone the reality of
fourth generation warfare. The United States is screwing up because it’s not
adapting to the new warfare, which is insurgency and counterinsurgency, run
by anonymous unidentifiable networks. Theses are dirty wars of assassination.

But you’re right that it’s all sham. Afghanistan is a shell game. The money
being made there is stupendous, Galbraith is just the most obvious example.
Note how ALL media were antagonistic to Kai Eide who opposed Galbraith and
his vested interests, which dictated his position on Karzai. They want a civil war
in Afghanistan and looks like they’re going to get it - unless Iran steps the
fore, like it seems to be doing, and rallies everyone against the U.S.

Interesting to note that in this region, where I am, the word used to describe
the United States is “distaste.” There is suspicion of these calls for iran
sanctions - why bother, why not just admit you want a strike, and if that’s the
case, we will oppose you fuckers, seems to be the general view.

Justified view, too, based on Iraq experience. The U.S. seems not to have
learned from Iraq, but the region certainly has. The U.S. is isolated. Asked
whether it will pay a future price for so deeply and needlessly antagonising the
future superpowers of this region: “Certainly.”

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By Inherit The Wind, March 10, 2010 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

Every now and then the planets and stars align, the month has a blue moon, and Diamond and I are in total agreement….Must be today!

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By Gina Green, March 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought Hurt Locker was an excellent movie, I also thought Taxi to the dark side
was a fantastic documentary. The art and information is in the hand of the
beholder

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By TheHandyman, March 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

The Oscars given this movie, which at this point I have not seen, has the same relationship to actual war as do the ribbons and shiny medals that are given to soldiers in lieu of respect, money, health care, or the carefully considered possibility that their lives should not be squandered. That they should be used as a last resort rather than cannon fodder to further corporate interests.

I was hoping that this movie was an anti-war movie. Apparently it isn’t. No one who willingly goes to another country to kill people who have done you no harm and wish you no harm can ever be a hero except under the most rarest of circumstances. I know and everyone that I know who has truly served in combat knows this. This is never about fighting for keeping Americans free unless you say it is to keep the obscenely rich Americans free to get richer off of the soldiers lives. What most of the people in the military do is their jobs. It is no more glorious than an accountant or a mechanic’s job. It is in some respects no more dangerous than a policeman’s or a deep sea diver. Only the frequency may vary of exposure to possible death. But much hyperbole is used, along with red, white, and blue bunting to convince people that joining the military is a noble thing. If you wrote down the job description as it exists in reality, only a fool or someone desperate for a job, any kind of a job, would take it.

I am a Vietnam vet and after doing 2 years in Africa in the Peace Corps it shook me to my very core when I was drafted and sent to Nam. And the more I learned about the war the angrier I got. When I read Johnson had denied we were going into Cambodia and Laos on a day when I had just flown missions into both countries that week was like throwing a match on all the wood of skepticism and doubt I had about my government. That fire burns as brightly, if not brighter, today as it did back then. And I have seen the lies and hyperbole reach a point where Americans are the most fearful and gullible people on the planet!

The greatest anti-war movie I’ve ever seen, and I never want to see it again, was Johnny Got His Gun. It is about a soldier hit by a mortar shell on the last day of WWI and the fate worse than death he suffers. It will rip your heart out and make you never want to go to war! I tend to stay away from War movies, they give me nightmares. A good war movie should give anyone who sees it nightmares. It would go along way towards making people not want to participate in them.

I think a movie is a waste if it doesn’t have a message that teaches us something about what is real. In spite of the hype, this movie sounds like one that was made just to see if it could be made. Lots of things are done just to see if they can be done, a lot of them produce no positive effects other than to prove it could be. Life shouldn’t be like that.

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By C Baron, March 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do I think that one of the soldiers in “Hurt Locker” would know about Galbraith’s oil deal? Sadly, no, I don’t.

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By liecatcher, March 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

An Oscar for America’s Hubris  
Posted on Mar 10, 2010 By Robert Scheer

No outrage for an undeserved award can top that
generated by
the Nobel Peace Prize given to the warmonger in the
W.H. .
I’d like to recommend three movies that tell more
truth about
who is actually controlling the W.H. & how
conspiracies are
planned & executed, & how the banksters do their
thing.
SYRIANA, 2005, with George Clooney
SHOOTER, 2007, with Mark Wahlberg
THE INTERNATIONAL, 2009, with Clive Owen

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, I think that compassion is fundamentally an
activity of an aware mind and cruelty comes from an
unawareness that makes absorption in hatred possible.

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By Tobysgirl, March 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

I didn’t see it mentioned, so I’ll mention it. Some of us feel JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN is the greatest antiwar film of all time.

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By kelly anspaugh, March 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Funny, ain’t it, that “The Hurt Locker” was the GWOT film that won the Oscar, when excellent films such as “In the Valley of Elah” and “Stop-Lossed” received little attention?  These latter films were overtly critical of the war, whereas “The Hurt Locker” does not address the issue of the motives behind the war—as if it doesn’t really matter, is beside the point.  You can bet your ass it matters to most of the soldiers whether the cause they are risking their lives for is just or unjust. And if some say they don’t care, it’s because they know they’ve been duped and used and would rather not think about it. It’s too humiliating and depressing.

Nothing is “apolitical,” particularly not a film about war.  How can it be?  My experience of those people who characterize themselves as “apolitical” is that usually they are reflex conservatives who see their view of the world as the “natural” one that any normal, sane person would hold. “The Hurt Locker,” by not examining the motives and causes of the Iraq war, essentially gives the benefit of the doubt to the warmongers that they “have their reasons,” reasons that are so far beyond us little folk that there’s no point in our bothering our teeny-tiny brains about them.  Let’s just enjoy in an escapist moment the wild antics of our cowboy hero as he behaves in a way that, in real life, would get his ass canned in a heartbeat.

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By Géza Éder, March 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

(Can’t log in for some reason)

Gordy: a “sanitized, politically correct world” is not really what people are talking about though.  I think “political correctness” at this moment is just a PR version of normal human decency, a set of rules that let you appear as if you actually cared about other people, a distorted version of what decent human-to-human interaction should be.  I don’t think it’s fair to bring this PC thing into play in this case - we’re talking more about actual human decency, not its politics version grin

Thing is, there’s a part in Modern Warfare where the evil Arab drops an atomic bomb on their own city while heroic Americans and Brits are trying to save everyone.  It’s pretty disgusting, but my point is that there are not too many people on American gaming forums who understand it or care about it (well actually people probably do understand it, because the “we’re doing it for their sake” argument rarely comes up).  Of course it’s entertainment, but you know, people learn from these.  They’re also pedagogy.  And the problem is, a lot more children will learn a lot more about the Middle East from Hollywood and video games than from parents, from history lessons or books. 

So, these things are important.  They’re not just entertainment, they’re also education, they’re very much what form people. And they’re also not a special sample of a wide spectrum of thoughts - they’re the norm, with very little scatter.  I don’t think they should be ignored this easily.

I also can’t agree with the “artistic freedom” type argument in the case of Hollywood movies and videogames either, for quite obvious reasons - not many products that take millions or tens of millions of dollars to create will allow for any freedom but the type that helps it sell more.  There’s no artistic freedom to speak of there.  And the fact that a couple of big name Hollywood people can in fact do whatever they want doesn’t mean much either - “artistic freedom” only exists if it exists *all along the spectrum of ideas*, if it’s stronger on one side, we’re talking about the opposite of freedom.

Maybe it’s because I’m also too narrow minded etc like Robert Scheer, but I agree that in these situations, there simply aren’t many morally acceptable ways to look at the war - just like there aren’t many morally acceptable ways to look at any crime one commits.  Simply put: if you’re a criminal, you must show regret and sympathy to your victims, and if you don’t do it and put yourself in the center, you’re not acting morally.  I don’t think it’s a question of whether a movie “marches in lockstep” with one’s opinions - there just aren’t too many ways to show repentance and acceptance of responsibility for something one did, and turning it into mass entertainment is usually not one of those.  It’s certainly not a way of showing acceptance of guilt, just the opposite.  I’m not really singling the movie out though, it’s just an example, and not even the worst one.

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By Géza Éder, March 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Gordy: a “sanitized, politically correct world” is not really what people are talking about though.  I think “political correctness” at this moment is just a PR version of normal human decency, a set of rules that let you appear as if you actually cared about other people, a distorted version of what decent human-to-human interaction should be.  I don’t think it’s fair to bring this PC thing into play in this case - we’re talking more about actual human decency, not its politics version grin

Thing is, there’s a part in Modern Warfare where the evil Arab drops an atomic bomb on their own city while heroic Americans and Brits are trying to save everyone.  It’s pretty disgusting, but my point is that there are not too many people on American gaming forums who understand it or care about it (well actually people probably do understand it, because the “we’re doing it for their sake” argument rarely comes up).  Of course it’s entertainment, but you know, people learn from these.  They’re also pedagogy.  And the problem is, a lot more children will learn a lot more about the Middle East from Hollywood and video games than from parents, from history lessons or books. 

So, these things are important.  They’re not just entertainment, they’re also education, they’re very much what form people. And they’re also not a special sample of a wide spectrum of thoughts - they’re the norm, with very little scatter.  I don’t think they should be ignored this easily.

I also can’t agree with the “artistic freedom” type argument in the case of Hollywood movies and videogames either, for quite obvious reasons - not many products that take millions or tens of millions of dollars to create will allow for any freedom but the type that helps it sell more.  There’s no artistic freedom to speak of there.  And the fact that a couple of big name Hollywood people can in fact do whatever they want doesn’t mean much either - “artistic freedom” only exists if it exists *all along the spectrum of ideas*, if it’s stronger on one side, we’re talking about the opposite of freedom.

Maybe it’s because I’m also too narrow minded etc like Robert Scheer, but I agree that in these situations, there simply aren’t many morally acceptable ways to look at the war - just like there aren’t many morally acceptable ways to look at any crime one commits.  Simply put: if you’re a criminal, you must show regret and sympathy to your victims, and if you don’t do it and put yourself in the center, you’re not acting morally.  And if you do *anything else* but this, it’s an avoidance of the issue and I think immoral.

I don’t think it’s a question of whether a movie “marches in lockstep” with one’s opinions - there just aren’t too many ways to show repentance and acceptance of responsibility for something one did, and turning it into mass entertainment is usually not one of those.  It’s certainly not a way of showing acceptance of guilt, just the opposite.

I’m not really singling the movie out though, it’s just an example, and not even the worst one.  Not even in the same league as the hateful Deer Hunter.

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By Leefeller, March 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Watching humility in action like the Oscars, sets a
shining example of how to live my life. History has
shown an actor of questionable abilities can co star
with a chimpanzee and become president of the United
States. Though it is my personal opinion, the chimpanzee
would have done a better job as president as in acting.

Visiting a friend, by accident during the Oscars, my
host exclaimed he needed to watch the Oscars because as
he described it,  he must watch the beautiful people!

Virtual reality has many facets, finding my eyesight not
quite what it used to be, reading books would be my
preference to watching the Oscars. Hell, like the Super
Bowl and the Olympics I would rather watch the
commercials. 

Not knowing most of the actors by name or the Movies by
title nor do I really care, beautiful or not! It seems
priories in my heart, simple significance of a Viagra
commercial provides much more interest and seems a tad
closer to reality.

Yes, like the Super Bowl, one should watch television
for the commercials, though the Oscars may want to work
on less bad jokes and more beautiful cleavage with a
healthier dose of commercials.  Last time I went to the
theater to see a movie, seems they are starting to catch
on, I love paying to see commercials!

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By gerard, March 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

“A HURT LOCKER simply reflects our actively ignored
ability to put ourselves in another person’s life.”—Scheer

It is this one statement that interests me most.
“actively ignored” imlies that we (in general) have within our minds and hearts a sense of empathy, and that the problem is that we ignore it. 

There’s so much we don’t know about how our minds work!  Does ignoring take conscious effort?  Or is it mostly unconscious?  “Actively” implies conscious effort. (Is there research on this that I don’t know about?)

If “conscious” there is some hope of overcoming cruety by “understanding” it and “controlling” it. If not, the problem is harder.

Empathy is key to the human problems that are overwhelming us these days, as war becomes more and more unmanageable.  Community seems to build empathy, whereas individualism seems to destroy it.
Your thoughts?

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By Not One More!, March 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

In this country you can’t support the military and support justice simultaneously.

Our military is corrupted because it manufactures deceitful information that justifies the use of force. Every general in the middle east that claims US military presence is required is lying.

As far as the military, most are either economic serfs, or are ignorant of the injustice of their actions. In some cases, they just want to kill, a sad reflection of our society.

In either case, they are committing war crimes, as well as our president down the line that order them to carry out our military killings.

Being ‘apolitical’ and silent when you know that the war is wrong is consent. Silence always helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. It is the ultimate cop-out.

http://www.NotOneMore.US

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By no mans land, March 10, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

I honestly did not walk away from this film feeling as though anything had been “justified.” I believe that individuals, as opposed to nations, mostly do approach such things with the best of intentions and that one of the tragedies of war is that they find their good intentions completely impodent to the reality. To show that is not inaccurate or to support a policy decision. It is is to say, though, that this is the effect war has on people which I think the film does a decent job of depicting. Nor does this film try to exceed the scope of its purpose, which is to portray larger themes through character development. It gave us a good sense for a wide range issues, from death of the innocent, the repression of emotion, family as strangers, the shock/disappointment of returning home (the cereal isle scene), and the apathy to it all. It puts it out there lets the viewer decide. I realize Sheer would prefer we be spoonfed, but this film doesn’t glamorize war anymore than Apocolypse Now did, which is one of the most celebrated anti-war films ever. Its theme is similar to the Heart of Darkness aspect of Apocolypse, but in less symbolic and more contemporary terms. This film is only pro-war if you get off on watching a father tell his baby that he loves war more than his own son.

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By no mans land, March 10, 2010 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

vonbargen

Try “Joyeux Noel” (2005). Its an excellent film about the Christmas Truce of 1914, where German, English and French soldiers spontaneously enacted, against the orders of their officers, an organic truce for Christmas that lasted up to two weeks on the Western Front. It’s a bit dramatized for effect, but the drama is needed to commmunicate and emote the broader message. It is a foreign film, but only about half of the dialogue is subtitled. It’s one of my favorites.

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By ray d, March 10, 2010 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

I am glad this column has been written. It will push back on the enthusiasm for a movie that does not deserve it. This enthusiasm, present only because the Hurt Locker has won an Oscar, is just like American hubris for war. Both the enthusiasm and the hubris are expressed in an uncritical manner. It’s not that I think pro-war movies should not be made, or prized. Not at all! Make them! Prize them! My issue is that Americans are unwilling to look at their movies critically. Indeed we are unwilling to look at our lives—personal and national—critically. First we invade a country illegally causing untold harm to Iraqis and ourselves. Then we make a movie that justifies the illegal war. Finally, we prize the movie as a further legitimization of the war. We use our movies as a mirror to flatter ourselves when the reality behind our image is horrifying.

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By Mark McGuire, March 10, 2010 at 11:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for an insightful review. I have not yet seen The Hurt Locker, but I will
now. It seems to have much in common with Avatar, which tells us that the
solution to war is, well, more war. Why is it that so many American films promote
violence, rugged individualism (coupled with a “brave heart”), and US cultural
imperialism as the solution to all the world’s problems, when, in fact, the rest of
the world identifies these as the causes of many of these same problems? Why  
such an obvious lack of self-critique? For some, the cinema screen is a window
that helps us to see beyond our prejudices and our ignorant assumptions. For
others, it is just one more mirror to preen in front of.

Mark McGuire
markmcguire.net

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By John G, March 10, 2010 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer is right. It’s a sick climate in which we see Hollywood congratulating itself over the “The Hurt Locker,” a timid little movie.

The industry’s been bullied out of exploring what war meant for Iraqis. Even a romp like 1999’s “Three Kings” remembered to render them as human beings.

Bigelow’s obsession with adrenaline junkies fails to give this movie much thematic weight. She cops the “war is a drug” line from Chris Hedges but deprives it of depth, treating it like Patrick Swayze dialogue from her “Point Break.”

With “Hurt Locker”‘s nü metal ending, it’s closer in spirit to Paul Walker joining the gang at the end of “The Fast and the Furious” or to Kid Rock in those National Guard commercials than to “Paths of Glory,” “Apocalypse Now,” or any of the other good war movies.

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Geza, I love military shooters even though I find them
to be (almost always) horrifically offensive. 

In life you have to digest what you perceive.  You have
your critical faculties switched on and enjoy what’s to
be enjoyed and reject what’s to be rejected.  We will
never, ever live in a sanitized politically-correct
world and will always have to be capable of tolerating
ambivalence for games, movies, society, everything.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 10, 2010 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Wow. I woke up this morning to read Robert Scheer’s most clumsy, illogical,
unfair, and transparently jingoistic contribution to TD since its inception.

He rants about the movie’s depiction of American machismo, as if the Hurt
Locker invented it, or by implication, that Hollywood invented it. Good for you
Mr. Scheer, your street cred as a “serious journalist” set apart from that knee-
jerk left coast crowd has been renewed for another year.

The Iraq war is what it is. Maybe you’re just worked up (if indeed you are
worked up, because this piece has “disingenuous” stamped all over it) because
the film didn’t sum up your feeling about that war, as if the film shirked it’s
first duty to appease your personal sensibilities or failed to march in lockstep
with your narrow political purposes.

Halfway through this piece I started hearing the voice of Matt Miller calling
your name like he does when you go off on a tangent on Left, Right, and
Center. “Bob…Bob? Gotta move on Bob…”

Yes gotta move on, Bob. That’s all the bogus nitpicking at the expense of a fine
film we’ve got time for.

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By rolmike, March 10, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

# 1 poster “van bargen” d’accord re “Paths of Glory”,
and I was a German kid at the time, and it had the ring
of truths, perhaps I also remember it so well and it set
a certain standard because it must be one of the first
dozen films i ever saw. the first three, all seen x-mas
1949 in berlin were [1] Night at the Opera; [2] The Red
Shoes; [3] The Third Man; Opera hit my even then
hysterically developed sense of the absurd that all i
need is to bring one or the other scene to mind, and I
know that though life may be sham and scam at least you
can laugh about it.

I have not seen HURT LOCKER so far. But I recall Kathy
Bigelow from her early days in the avant garde film
makers coming to me who was the publisher of Urizen Books
that was the first to publish Bataille in this country
[STORY OF THE EYE, BLUE OF NOON] and asking to help her
obtain an option on Bataille’s MA MERE… like so many of
the young once they get to Hollywood, those dreams are
quickly shelved.

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By Gabriella Lettini, March 10, 2010 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You can watch the documentary Soldiers of Conscience by Gary Weimberg and Cathy Ryan, interviews with soldiers that were in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s easy to rent. A very powerful piece. It received an Emmy nomination last year.

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By vonbargen, March 10, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Looking for a slightly more recent anti-war film?  Go get Paths of Glory, with Kirk Douglas and an amazing cast.  Light comedian Adolphe Menjou gave the performance of his career as the general whom Douglas attacks as a “degenerate.”  Powerful movie, by, I think, Stanley Kubrick. Perennial evildoer George MacReady is also excellent along with Ralph Meeker and Wayne Morris.  There is a scene near the end with a young German girl being made to sing for the French Troops that will have you crying with the troops, I guarantee.

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By Gabriella Lettini, March 10, 2010 at 10:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another way to discuss the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is to listen to the voices of veterans who have been there. For instance, Iraq veteran Logan Lahituri posted a powerful comment to the Hurt Locker at http://blog.sojo.net/2010/03/09/hurt-locker-cant-contain-the-reality-of-war/
Another way to listen to the voices of veterans and other people who have been there is to attend the first Truth Commission on Conscience in War at the Riverside Church in New York City next week, March 21, public hearing 4-8 pm. Chris Hedges is one of the speakers. See http://www.conscienceinwar.org Please, invite people to attend.

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By firefly, March 10, 2010 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

“It is we who matter and they who are graced by our presence no matter how screwed up we may be.”

This is the most crucial point that Scheer makes. This movie once again displays the American self-image that supposedly is superior to everything and everyone else on planet earth and disregards the rest of the world’s history, culture and millenia year old accomplishments. 

However, it is gratifying to note that many top military commentators have pointed out the inaccuracies and fallacies of the ‘Hurt Locker’, stressing the fact that this is a fictional portrayal and that if any bomb disposal units actually did carry out actions as portrayed in the movie, they would be fired. So the fact remains that this goes to the heart of the concept of American greatness. While honesty isn’t one of those virtues, maybe the ability to create a fictitious theory of who we really are and believe it, is a virtue in itself.

Finally, Hollywood needs permission from the Pentagon to use military costumes and weaponry in movies. It is therefore unlikely that Hollywood will ever be able to produce a big budget war movie that doesn’t portray American war in a golden light.

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By Géza Éder, March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

I think that it’s a bit distasteful to use a war you created and are responsible for as a backdrop for your own entertainment.  So, what do people think of the proposed Fallujah video game? 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Days_in_Fallujah

And what do people think about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?  Its second part is also a huge selling game now.

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

THANK YOU Vonbargen, yes!  Good god, you can’t just
expect every bloody movie dealing with politics or
war to be 1984!  You can criticise the system and the
culture that filters out truly provocative and
important film-making, but the criticism of THIS
PARTICULAR MOVIE is waaay over the top. 

Personally I found that it compared very favourably
with Jarhead, which I saw for the first time a few
days before The Hurt Locker.  In my opinion,
Jarhead’s main message was: ‘in a fucked-up world you
just do what you do as well as you can’ i.e. the
usual American-oppressor-as-tragic-hero bullshit. 
Get your head down and don’t question anything - life
sucks, get over it.  Let’s just say I was
disappointed. 

In contrast, The Hurt Locker seemed to say, ‘only
maniacs can prosper within a maniacal project’.  The
main character is (by his own admission) burnt-out
and loveless, like a warrior-zombie with only
fragments of humanity left.  He is a sympathetic
figure but not really a ‘hero’.  Who would want to be
him?  Only maniacs and fantasists who lack self-
awareness.

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By no mans land, March 10, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Sheer’s review is horrible. The enduring quality of this film is to show the ultimate product of war and the intergenerational consequences. It doens’t need to say that the war was not justified. No one is left feeling giddy tremors of patriotism as the main character admits to his baby that there is only one thing left in this world he loves, only to have the film cut away to the beginning of his next tour. The implication is clear and, yes, its a sad commentary on war. But that’s not good enough for Sheer, who apparently needs subtitles to understand the antiwar vein running through the film. Not everything has to be about the soap box of the bigger picture.

I wonder if Sheer ever considered the possibility of allegory? hmm, a cautious and cerebral leader goes down in the beginning who is replaced by a cocky, self-centered rambo type who charges off into the dark to get the bad guy, with too few to handle the job, and only manages to hurt one of his own soldiers. The needs of families and children ignored for the rush of battle. Sounds like a fairly accurate summary of the Iraq experience to me…

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By M Henri Day, March 10, 2010 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

«I gave reasons for my view - deal with them critically;
don’t just say ‘you are wrong’ or it’s going to be a
pretty boring discussion.»

«Oh my god Henri, your snooty snark is absolutely
bilious.  Get over yourself.»

Now I understand, «Gordy», what you mean by «deal[ing] with [others views] critically» - argumenta ad hominem. I leave you to the tender ministrations of «[your] god» ; hope it will give you the help you so obviously need, but as Schiller noted : «[m]it der Dummheit kämpfen die Götter selbst vergebens»....

Henri

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By Rgyle, March 10, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Sorry, Achille’s heel. Which is in need of healing…

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By Rgyle, March 10, 2010 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

The best way to ‘support our doops’ is to help them and their duped supporters, if
possible, get un-duped. This dopey addiction to the illusion of heroic empire,
‘chosen ones’ entitlement, joystick toughness, ETC. is the achilles heal of our
mega-corp driven cannibalism. Corps may not actually eat human flesh, but they
do eat human lives over breakfast on their yachts.

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By Rita Brock, March 10, 2010 at 9:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer makes important points about the absence of Iraqis, but a film that led us to care about them would require a filmmaker who could build empathy for Muslims and Arabs and take the focus off the US. Few filmmakers or script writers even know enough about the people and culture to care to do this and few have the talent to build such a complex story.

Veterans overwhelmingly object to the film, and they were there. They were all trained by the military in ideas of just war and told that maintaining moral conscience in war is crucial. Yet, they are punished if they actually object on moral grounds to any war. The only out is to object to “war in any form,” ie be a pacifist, which most soldiers are not. Just war is a different kind of moral position (one, by the way, Chris Hedges advocates—he’s also done work on the impact of the war on Iraqis in Collateral Damage).

The VA now acknowledges a lingering effect on veterans called “moral injury.” 18 vets a day kill themselves, 20% of the 30,000 U.S. suicides every year and the rate rose 26% in younger vets beginning in 2005. Who knows how many Iraqs kill themselves, and who cares enough to find out? None of these tragedies counts in war casualties, a paltry number by comparison to war’s lingering aftermaths.

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By vonbargen, March 10, 2010 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

Maybe this column should be called Reviewer Hubris.
Mr. Scheer, with whom I usually agree, falls prey to a common malady among reviewers.  He is more interested in describing the film/book/play that HE would’ve written instead of the one he is reviewing. 
This film is reasonably consistent with Chris Hedges’ point about the way war and danger can affect some of us.  It was not intended as a political film and shouldn’t be viewed through that prism.  Unfortunately, as Scheer acknowledges, if it had been more political, it would have sunk under the weight of its own didacticism.

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By MeHere, March 10, 2010 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

I thank R. Scheer for bringing attention to this point. For the most part, Hollywood is nothing but a graveyard for artistic filmmaking.  Just like with TV, a close ally upon which Hollywood heavily relies for marketing films, everything is a product, professionally done. They will generally produce and promote the material which their sophisticated market research shows to have the potential for maximum profit. They take everything into account: audience comfort zones, celebrity worship, political climate, demographics, and much more. One can practically guess what will come out of Hollywood every year. There is no point expecting anything else.

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By whitedog, March 10, 2010 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

It’s well known that Hollywood is embedded with Washington. Anything resembling protest or conscience would be very watered down. Even so I hope a really well informed view of the invasion will find its way through the maze of money and censorship that goes so deep in that weird combination of business and pleasure we know as the cinematic world.

I’m very disappointed to hear of this though, I hoped it was a good film. Haven’t seen it yet, maybe I won’t now.

That the woman who directed it was into it is a shame. That she is the first woman to win an academy award for something like this is so sad, very much like the fact that the first black president is such a dupe for the right.

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By balkas, March 10, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

To me, the question is, how well sleep the people who ordered-planned and are executing the aggression against iraq?

Most US soldiers probably don’t sleep that well! If any wld want to quit, leaving iraq appears impossible; the trek to syria, turkey, iran not being very appetizing with US uniform on.

So, US soldiers, who are almost as much innocent as iraqis, are trapped along domestics in a kind of cauldron od dust, dispair, hopelessness, blood, etc.

God Bless All The Victims and Curse All The Makers Of The Victims!tnx

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By Gloria Picchetti, March 10, 2010 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Avatar was about love, joy, beauty, creativity, winning over the military industrial complex and many other good, good things. Seeing the Oscar go to a movie about the illegal invasion of Iraq really is heartbreak.
The war in Iraq put the USA into debt forever. The USA cannot accomplish any good thing to take care of ourselves because of that debt. We have lost face & status. We live in shame and debt.
The house of cards brought down the econ of the entire world. At least there will be equality when the USA finally becomes a third world country. If you don’t see that coming you are very, very wealthy and/or myopic.

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By John Sullivan, March 10, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Turn off Oscar and go rent Paths of Glory. That film is all you need to know on the subject of what war is really about.

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Oh my god Henri, your snooty snark is absolutely
bilious.  Get over yourself. 

I agree with the point about Iraqis being bit-players
in their own story.  I already acknowledged that it’s
not a brilliant film unless you use the barometer of
‘the average Hollywood film’ by which it suddenly
does seem brilliant and therefore Oscar-worthy (I
never have considered ‘Oscar-worthy’ as particularly
high praise by the way).  I just disagree with the
crude link Sheer makes between this poxy unimportant
movie and the military-industrial juggernaut. 

The movie panders SOMEWHAT to the military-industrial
Neocon juggernaut but it is not the black-and-white
villain Sheer makes it out to be.  That is my
criticism.  Am I wrong Henri?  Do you think the movie
is pure fricking evil?  Have you seen it?  It is
hardly Team America - jesus, you can hardly accuse it
of glamourizing the occupation… 

http://www.cracked.com/article_18460_5-reasons-
oscars-matter-even-less-than-you-thought_p1.html

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By M Henri Day, March 10, 2010 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

Let us then attempt, «Gordy», to deal with your view «critically», as you call it ; thus you write «So for example, when you want to make a film about cultural decadence and hedonism in the 70s you might focus on the misadventures of a stadium rock-band who get mixed up with drug-dealers, prostitutes, and maybe even mobsters and corrupt politicians». This type of synecdoche may be entirely appropriate in describing certain cultural phenomena in the United States during the 70s - although, I should suggest that better could be found - but what Mr Scheer here points out is that a film that portrays the Iraqis as bit players in the events being played out in their country, while the real protagonists and objects of interest for the viewers are the US invaders, is an example of «imperial hubris». There is nothing at all «incoherent» about this message, nor is it a «rant», even if you do not find it appealing. My suggestion thus stands, with an addendum : not merely should you attempt re-reading the article, you might also find it worthwhile to consult an adequate dictionary of the English language before utilising terms with the meaning of which you are unfamiliar….

Henri

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By JoeThePlumber, March 10, 2010 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

There does seem to be a lot of jumping onto the bandwagon with this. People saying how wrong the war is etc. Apart from Gordy - good post.

It would be interesting to hear from an Iraqi perspective regarding this film as it feels to me that a lot of people on this site parrot from all the books they’ve been reading about the subject.

Lastly. It is just a film, and a damn good one in my opinion. Not because it’s a commentary on the war, but because it’s very engaging and entertaining.

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Henri M Day: Sheer spends the latter half of the
article using the movie as an excuse to rant about
the war in general.  I broadly agree with his view on
the war but I don’t think he should have such a
black-and-white view on this Movie.  All through
history there have been tyrannies that have obliged
artists to criticize only in subtle, indirect ways. 
Shakespeare could critique the politics of his day
only insofar as he avoided enraging his royal
patrons.  He was fortunate, in a way, that his
principle patron was Elizabeth I instead of, say, the
American public. 

The Hurt Locker is not the war film I would make, if
I was making a war film.  It’s well executed but it
is not the bravest or the best war film by a long
shot.  But it is not the straightforward flag-waving
advert for imperialism Sheer and others have made it
out to be.  People, please - a little nuance!  This
is not a battle between good and evil any more than
the Iraq war is - stop thinking like that!  I would
not be so arrogant as to assume that I would make the
ultimate ass-kicking empire-humbling movie if I was
in Bigelow’s position - maybe I would choose to offer
some judicious, limited degree of criticism of the
war AND make a profit instead of making something
excellent that no one sees (Redacted).  Well,
probably not, okay - I have trouble keeping my mouth
shut no matter what’s at stake, but I’m not going to
completely vilify someone for lacking a little
integrity, otherwise I must vilify 99.9% of humanity,
and that would be lonely.

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By JohannG, March 10, 2010 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

Good analysis. Watched the movie recently and even
though the plot is superficially engaging, it lacks
depth and plausibility. Very good point about the money
trail and Galbraith’s involvement in the ongoing Iraqi
quagmire.

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By Stephen Geller, March 10, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anti-war war films? Try Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY; the adaptation of
Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE; Renoir’s magnificent work, GRAND
ILLUSION; most recently, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR? Granted, small in number
compared to the testosterone-laden films that make up the plupart of world
cinema, but enough to make a more vibrant history.

Understand, however, that so much of world literature deals with the good great
fun of death and battle, from Homer’s ILIAD, Shakespeare’s HENRY V et al, the
Hindu BHAGAVAD GITA, which is a spiritual rationalization for war and
slaughter, and so many Yoruba oddus, Chinese tales, Arabic and Persian
masterpieces…

No excuse for missing the point of American involvement in Iraq, surely,  but
there’s an even deeper issue here: man’s blind and sustained incapacity to treat
others the way he would wish to be treated. Or even more, his inability to take
Hamlet’s advice to Polonius: “Use them after your own honour and dignity-the
less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.”

It’s also difficult to forget Hamlet’s remark about the origin of
“greatness”...“Rightly to be great/Is not to stir without great argument,/But
greatly to find quarrel in a straw/When honour’s at the stake.”

So much of our history and literature is about “a little patch of ground that hath
in it no profit but the name.”  Straws, all of it, and last year’s questionable
honour.

War is the real pornography. A HURT LOCKER simply reflects our actively ignored
ability to put ourselves in another person’s life. No motive in the film but the
moment. No question as to why we’re there, and elsewhere, at all. (Only John
Wayne has an answer! Only our cultural icons, like Stallone,  make the Speech).
And so many were happy the issue of our presence abroad didn’t enter into the
dramatic argument. Like “Das Boot.”

As an Academy voter, let me cross the line and publically state I voted for A
SERIOUS MAN for best picture and, like every year, cursed the fact that I was not
allowed to see what the rest of the world made this past year. Our cultural
chauvinism is manifest in the way we choose and distribute movies,  pirate world
screens, publish few novels of worth, and (with the exception of the New York
Review of Books classics series) deny in our bookstores the existence of a
literature beyond our shores -  all of which keeps us fabulously dumb.

Do you wonder?

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

I gave reasons for my view - deal with them critically;
don’t just say ‘you are wrong’ or it’s going to be a
pretty boring discussion.

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By Flynski, March 10, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

W should have been awarded Best Supporting Actor for this film.

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M Henri Day's avatar

By M Henri Day, March 10, 2010 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

No, «Gordy», Mr Scheer’s article is not «incoherent» - unless you conveniently define that term to mean «not in agreement with your particular view of the world». Perhaps you should try re-reading it ?...

Henri

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By hrmitcrb, March 10, 2010 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

To ‘diamond’ who commented below:  I wish you were my neighbor.  We could have some great conversations.

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By Gordy, March 10, 2010 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

This article is kind of an incoherent rant. 

The Hurt Locker isn’t about an American ‘dealing with
his demons no matter the consequences for others’ -
it’s a film in which everyone is messed up and fails
to deal with anything particularly well.  Its comment
on the war is told through the old (and, when done
properly, legitimate) technique of mirroring the
wider state of affairs in the affairs of minor
players. 

So for example, when you want to make a film about
cultural decadence and hedonism in the 70s you might
focus on the misadventures of a stadium rock-band who
get mixed up with drug-dealers, prostitutes, and
maybe even mobsters and corrupt politicians. 

If someone watches The Hurt Locker and fails to
perceive ANY negative comment on the Iraq War, sorry
but they’re just not paying attention. 

I don’t think it’s the most earth-shakingly incisive
and damning anti-war film - no, not at all - but this
article is so ridiculously unbalanced that I felt
obliged to offer my criticism.  A little nuance
please - I don’t like to be banged over the head with
propaganda and told that everyone who isn’t the
perfect radical progressive is a killer cyborg zombie
from the Pentagon.

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By M Henri Day, March 10, 2010 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

Mr Scheer is absolutely correct - not merely the corporate media, but most people in the United States seem to regard the rest of the world as a scene on which to play out their dramas, full, let it be admitted, of sound and fury. In this view of the world, we others must consider ourselves fortunate to play bit parts in these plays, e g, by selling pornography to the protagonists. My suspicion, however, is that soon even the most nationalistic resident of the USA will be forced to recognise and deal with the discrepancy between this Weltanschauung and the real state of the world. How, then, we might ask, will Hollywood manage to distribute its Oscars ?...

Henri

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By hrmitcrb, March 10, 2010 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

It’s unbelievable to me that ‘The Hurt Locker’ was even considered for an Oscar.  The plot and script were beyond implausible, they were laughable. At least in the Rambo films, one knew they were watching fantasy.  It’s little wonder that our gov’t continues to get kids to join our military if the public as a whole believe the depictions in the movie represent reality.  With a diet of movies such as the ‘Locker’ and ‘shoot-em-up’ video games, I think there all a lot of kids who have a warped sense of the realities of warfare and/or the madness of killing for corporate profit. For ‘JoeThePlumber’ who commented above: Stick with your job - the bravado portrayed in this movie is nothing but Hollywood fantasy.

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By freelyb, March 10, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Thanks for this. Americans need every reminder we can get that it’s not all about us. Very insightful article.

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