Friday, May 05, 2006

United 93

I saw United 93 despite mixed feelings and misgivings. It was wrenching and not exploitative. The violence in it is hard to take because it's just so real. I've noticed something interesting over the years, listening to the ongoing debate about violence in the media and entertainment. Critics contend that violence in the media dulls us to real world violence, but my experience is that violence in entertainment--no matter how gruesome--just doesn't come across as threatening. Whenever I see the 'real' thing, I recoil bodily and my soul aches, as it did with this film. Real violence is intimate, clumsy, unexpected and desperate, in a way that it isn't, say, in a movie like Mission Impossible III (or, hell, even Platoon or Hamburger Hill.)

This film shook me. Yes, it's propaganda, but I'm not sure it's the wrong kind. For one thing, it's a reminder that we're in more than one war, right now; that Iraq is a terrible, wasting battle that distracts from that 'other' war with global Jihadists.... And, yes, my liberal friends, I believe that's true, though in my circles I'm going to get a lot of pursed lips for saying it. George Bush and company are criminally incompetent and ideologically insane, but the war with fascist, 'political Islam' is real ("political Islam" is a phrase with a definite meaning which refers to Islamo-fascist aspirations of far-right and fundamentalists Muslims, who seem to me very, very like the Nazis, except they harbor a nutty religious dream rather than a nutty racial and agrarian dream.) Because most of the people I know are not directly effected by Iraq, few having family or friends in the military, they--we--need this reminder.

This film shook me.



Trish Egan & Harold Phillips said...

That makes THREE wars (don't forget Afganistan)... and with Iran around the corner, we may just have a full quarto.

As one of those liberal friends who purses his lips at that oft-repeated phrase "War on Terror," I feel that I have to point out the fact that even we "spineless liberals" generally agree that the global Jihadists are our contemporary enemy. I don't much like the term "Islamo Fascist," however, because the Muslim fundamentalists who are our oposition aren't fascist in the truest meaning of the word - I'm sure you've seen the "12 Signs of Fascism ("

Rather, they are a corrupted form of "liberation theology" which seeks to "free their people" from something they identify as the oppresive yoke of a foreign power. Sure, it's all spin by those in charge of the movement to gain their own political power... but I wouldn't characterize it as Fascism. "Islamo Fascism" is just a "buzz word" meant to rally our country against the Muslims, as we were rallied against the fascist in the 1940's. Perhaps a laudible goal, but flawed in my opinion.

In any case, good to hear that the movie wasn't exploitative. In this time of propagandist nationalism (hmmm... what's point one on the above-referenced "12 Signs Of Fascism?") it's nice to hear that event of that magnitute was treated with respect.

David said...

Harold, with all due respect, bullshit. Here is what a dictionary says of fascism:

"The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43), and the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach."

This powerfully describes the radical fundamentalists in the Islamic world. There is NOTHING in them akin to liberation theology, in my view.

Also, I did not use the term "spineless liberals." Please don't imply that I'm name calling when I'm not. I'll leave that to the wild shriekings that resound in the cosmic void of the greater blogosphere.

Trish Egan & Harold Phillips said...

oooOOOOOooooo!!! The fecal guantlet has been thrown!!!

My objection to the term is really that fascism (as indicated by the above-referenced dictionary definition) is inherently nationalistic. Fascist leaders are all about nationalist ferver. Our zealot foes in the middle east aren't interested in nationalism so much as the triumph of their sectarian religious beliefs. I therefore don't see the term "fascist" as appropriate. Again, it's a buzz-word to rally US against THEM.

These guys don't care about national borders. They care about the holy sites of their religion. Remember, Osama Bin Laden's big complaint was that we were occupying holy ground (The Abu Bin Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia). They view their cause as transcending national boundries.

They're motivated by their religious beliefs. We wouldn't, for example, call Fred Phelps a Christo-Faschist because he exhorts his followers to picket gay funerals. Yes, he's a bad guy, but he's not a fascist. Similarly, I don't think that the Fascist label fits Bin Ladin, Al-Zaheri and the rest. They're ideological leaders trying to impose their theological word-view on the rest of the world.

And the spineless liberal thing was just going with the flow... god knows I've been called worse :)

David said...

Ah, Herold - I appreciate your good humor and laid back nature! It's a good balance to mine.

I still believe that "fascist" applies. First, because the 'ethnic' (which, in European history, is coeval with 'national') part exists by implication if not declaration, and second because the lack of 'national' or 'ethnic' aspirations on the part of the political Islamicist fundamentalists rightest whateverists doesn't make them SUBSTANTIALLY different than the Nazis. These Al Queda guys would be happy, happy, happy, to kill off every non-Muslim in the world, starting with the Jews, of course. There is nothing liberal, multicultural or live-and-let-live about THEM.

It is us against them. That our criminally stupid and arrogant political leaders are trying to sell us that doesn't mean it's not true (remember, by "them" I mean the fuckers who are committed to suicide bombings and turning back the clock; I don't refer to Arabs or Islam.)

And so it goes. Another century of murder for murder's sake (see Martin Amis' short story in last week's New Yorker.)

Sokrates said...

David et al:

I won't join in the argument (not here, at least) but thought I'd provide a link to a Willamette Week article about Sean Davis, an Iraq war vet who directed a short play I was in last year. Good guy. As are you, David!