Can't believe that is has some kind of cultural value, let alone a projected zeitgeist; but hey, it kinda does.
Monday 17 January 2005 @ 11:34
Back in the 1980s, a film came out that was a masterpiece of Cold War
propaganda. The film 'Red Dawn' depicted an invasion of the United
States by a combined Soviet/Cuban force that came up through Central
America and down from Alaska.
'Red Dawn' centered around the patriotic struggle of a bunch of kids
from a small Colorado town, who armed themselves and took to the hills
to fight the invaders. They were afraid and angry, and over the course
of the movie most of them are killed. Each of the fallen is treated as
a hero, their names etched upon a rock that eventually becomes a
national monument once the war ends.
The chief antagonist, a Cuban officer, is disgusted with himself and
the invasion by the conclusion of the film. In one dramatic scene, he
has Patrick Swayze and his brother Charlie Sheen dead bang in the
sights of his AK-47. Rather than gun them down, the officer lets them
go, drops his weapon, and rubs his hands as if they have been dirtied
by all the spilled blood.
I was young enough that this movie had a pretty profound effect on me.
In short, it scared the hell out of me and got me all jacked up at the
idea of defending my country against an invasion by commie Huns. This
film came out, of course, during the Reagan administration, a time of
heavy tension, a time when Ron himself told me that my generation
would be the one to face the apocalypse.
Now, of course, I am old enough to see the thing for what it was. But
I am casting it now in a new context that throws the whole premise
into a cocked hat. These Soviet/Cuban commie invaders kept the lights
on, kept the stores open, and saw themselves bringing 'freedom' to a
nation held in thrall by capitalist oppressors. Why, then, did those
In other words, this film glorifies armed resistance by patriotic
fighters bent on repelling invaders. Yet in Iraq today, the kids
playing the role of the resistance are vilified as terrorists and
thugs. Are they not doing what those all-American kids did, to great
applause, in 'Red Dawn'? We're the 'liberators' this time around,
trying to get the lights on, trying to hold some sort of election. Why
do they fight us?
They fight, I think, because home is home, and because invading armies
are never, ever welcome. All the neo-cons in the Bush administration
who thought this wwas going to be a 'cakewalk' should have probably
watched 'Red Dawn' before undertaking this farce.
But then again, it's might just be a bad war movie with C. Thomas Howell.