OpEdNews Op Eds

"The Hurt Locker": When Great Art Meets Lousy Politics

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 3/9/10

by Bernard Weiner| March 9, 2010 - 1:51am

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

I despise the implicit pro-Iraq War politics of "The Hurt Locker": There is no examination or even mention in the film of why the U.S. might be fighting there, no look at the neo-conservative ideology that sent our troops there, no questioning of the aggressive tactics aimed at Iraqi civilians, no overt politics at all, for that matter. But I cannot deny the movie's aesthetic power. It is a great film, one of the few war movies that really got into my gut. It well deserves its Best Picture Oscar.

It's possible that director Kathryn Bigelow made this film as a love-poem to the American troops abroad, but it works on so many other levels as well. In one sense, it's even possible to view it as an anti-war, pro-quick withdrawal movie.

In scene after scene, the U.S. troops in Iraq clearly are shown as an aggressive, swaggering army of occupation, which soon comes to realize that the Iraqis, almost all of them they meet, don't want the U.S. troops in their country. It would be easy to surmise that a good share of the violence in that country most likely will cease once the Americans leave.

"The Hurt Locker," in this interpretation, seems to be suggesting that the American troops are not just fighting the "insurgents" -- they seem to be waging war against huge chunks, perhaps close to a majority, of the Iraqi population that wants their country back. At least one can read that aspect of the film in such a way.

THE BOMB SQUAD

You know, or perhaps have heard, what "The Hurt Locker" is about: a unit of bomb-defusers go out every day to find IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that Iraqi "insurgent" forces have buried on or hidden next to the road down which U.S. convoys drive, or have secreted huge amounts of ordinance in the trunks of cars that can be detonated by cell-phones when American personnel pass by.

Wearing 100-lb. bomb-protection suits (in 100-degree weather in Iraq!), the bomb defuser's job is to locate the IEDs and render them harmless, or, if not, to blow them up in a way that will do no damage to U.S. forces. The bomb defusers sometimes die when things go wrong.

Given the dangers faced by this squad, there is no let-up in the tension. The least mistake and they're lying in pieces in the sand. My stomach was tied in knots for most of the movie, which I saw many months ago when the film opened here in San Francisco.

P.T.S.D. AND BOREDOM

I keep telling my wife (who doesn't want to see it) that the occasional violence in the movie is not the point of "The Hurt Locker."

What the movie really is about is how these gung-ho warriors deal with the tension and threats of destruction they face every moment they are in Iraq.

It's also about the adrenalin high they're on and what happens when these warriors get back home and have to deal with the relative quiet of suburban peacetime. It's not a pretty picture and, like the lead character in the movie (played brilliantly by Jeremy Renner, who deserved an Oscar), many want to return to the war zone as soon as they can. That's the environment in which these warriors thrive.

DEFUSING RIGHT-WING CRITICS

I found director Kathryn Bigelow's remarks at the Oscar Awards ceremony a bit puzzling. She went out of her way at least twice to shower U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with glory and praise. Methinks she doth protest too much. Why? I can only offer some reasonable speculation:

With its Best Picture award, there is no doubt that this small, independent film will be snapped up for widespread, mainstream exhibition in multiplexes around the country. There already had been a low-key, word-of-mouth campaign from the far-right to denigrate "The Hurt Locker" as insufficiently patriotic. Better to try to head that one off early, to get middle-American butts on the movie-house seats.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

www.crisispapers.org

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Cutting Through Fukushima Fog: Radiation in U.S.?

Getting Through the Coming Depression

What Happens When We Don't See the Tipping Points

WTF?: A Letter to Appalled, Puzzled European Friends

Twenty-Six Things We Now Know Seven Years After 9/11

"The Hurt Locker": When Great Art Meets Lousy Politics

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
3 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Although some may say this movie has a thinly veil... by Davey Jones on Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 at 2:39:34 AM
I do believe that any film that honestly shows a w... by Charlie L on Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 at 9:42:05 PM
Americans: Cool mutherfukkers.Iraqis: Stupid, craz... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010 at 10:53:25 AM