>Saturday afternoon we went and saw the new Stallone, movie, Rambo. I had actually been looking forward to seeing it; I loved Rocky Balboa, and hoped that this movie would put a decent bookend on the Rambo franchise. Back in the day I loved the original movie, First Blood, and a recent re-viewing of the flick showed it has held up pretty well for me. The two sequels after it quickly degenerated into awfulness, even when they first came out. But I’ve always been something of a fan of Sly, so I thought it might be cool.
A glance at Rotten Tomatoes showed it wasn’t doing too well. Sid and his buddy, Will, were eager to see it, so I swallowed my last minute reservations and decided to go after all. I even gave Julia an out to just drop the boys at the movie and we could go do or see something else, but she said she was fine with going. About 1/3 of the way through the movie I was feeling horrible guilt that I’d brought these people to see this goddamn film.
Here’s the premise. Rambo lives in Thailand now. A group of Christian missionaries ask him to guide them into Burma (the word “Myanmar” is not uttered a single time in this flick). He grunts a denial. The pretty woman in the movie guilts him into guiding them anyway. Along the way he has to kill a boatload of river pirates. Missionaries are appalled, but decide to press on. He leaves them at the river and goes back to his shack. Meanwhile, the village the missionaries are helping is brutally attacked by soldiers. Head of church group was from hires mercs to go after them, and gets Rambo to lead them. They follow the soldiers to prison camp. Mayhem ensues. Rambo saves the woman amid even more mayhem. The leader of the Christian expedition who tells Rambo early on that killing is “never justified” even gets into the killing-by-big-rock-to-skull-of-bad-guy, and presumably “gets how the world really works” after all. No big surprises.
What turned my stomach was the level of violence of this movie. We see people — innocents as well as villains — blown up by land mines, stabbed, machine-gunned to pieces, bludgeoned to death, etc. I spent probably half the movie with my eyes averted. It was awful. And what made it awful is that this shit is real.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about just these types of events and where they are actually happening (for a quick and dirty trip through these subjects I highly recommend “50 Facts That Should Change the World” by Jessica Williams; it’s a good starting point). Whether it is the statistics of people killed and maimed every year by land mines; armies attacking villages and forcing children into guerrilla armies; rape and torture, you name it: any horror that you can imagine one person doing to another is being done, whether it is in SE Asia, Africa, Iraq, or anywhere else. It breaks my heart. And here I was in this movie theater, half-filled with fratboy types in backwards ballcaps and t-shirts with either some sports logo or skateboard logo, laughing and cheering whenever some particularly vivid atrocity was depicted on screen — and every horrible one of them was depicted! It could have been the blowing apart of some wicked soldier’s skull or some villager forced to run through a mine field disappearing in a red spray, or women being gang-raped by soldiers, it didn’t matter — they loved it. Many of the people I “associate” with in my various music-related forum wanderings love it. And if the brutal atrocities weren’t enough, they had to make sure and show the lead villain as a homosexual pedophile as well. For me, it was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time.
What was Stallone’s purpose in making this abomination? Was he trying to show people what is going on in this part of the world, and make a statement that only through violence can we stop these awful atrocities? If that was his intent, he failed utterly. I don’t think the average male American of 15 – 30, which is probably the demographic this movie is aiming for, even knows where Burma/Myanmar is, let alone has a clue that that shit is real, and the movie does nothing to rectify that. If Stallone was just trying to make a big budget splatter flick to get the people off who like that kind of thing, then he succeeded. But he did so by exploiting a very real, very terrible situation in the world, and that sickens me. People argue that “it’s just entertainment” but I don’t buy that. I used to argue that movies and video games and such things are not part of the problem. I don’t think I feel that way anymore. It is just too ubiquitous, and too graphic.
Okay, so I’m the idiot for thinking this just might be a cool action movie, I’ll take responsibility for that. And it did give me an opportunity to talk to the boys about how all that shit — minus the badass “heroics” by machete-armed superheroes — really happens, and that it sucks. I could tell they understood from the looks on their faces. But those fratboy types sure didn’t get it as they stalked out of the theater with their arms all stiff out to their sides. It was disgusting. So fuck you, Sylvester Stallone, fuck you and your views on testosterone.