In David Mamet’s blistering 2007 essay collection on the praetorian nature of Hollywood, Bambi vs. Godzilla, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and idiosyncratic filmmaker dedicated a chapter to deconstructing the testosterone-addled action film, excoriating its black and white moral lessons and the audience’s eagerness to accept such lessons unconditionally.
“If the violence can be construed as just, our perverse entertainment is less despicable,” Mamet lamented, eventually raising his broadside against action films to a societal critique, claiming glorified screen violence has “infected and perverted American foreign policy” and attacking the “misconceived false antisepsis of the Vietnam air war, of Grenada, of Iraq I and II” as revealing “an impunity like that of the moviegoer.”p>Lord! Whether the average fan of Steven Segal or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would take umbrage at having “misconceived false antisepsis” of the government laid at the feet of their movie-watching habits is an open question, but the sacred cow premise the director sought to slay, on the other hand, is a beloved American institution: br> /p>
The viewer is presented with this paradigm: The hero (i.e., you, the viewer, whom he represents) is good. The hero will undergo various struggles in which you, the viewer, will be able to enjoy vicariously his stoicism while undergoing no pain. Your desire to do violence will be pandered to by an incontrovertible presentation of the justice of the hero’s cause and by a (ritual) period of initial restraint on his part. This false glow of untried and (in the case of the moviegoer) proxy triumph is the drug of the bully. It seduces the weak-minded and emboldens the arrogant.br> Ironic, then, that Mamet’s latest film Redbelt proves so spectacularly successful at providing its audience an opportunity to vicariously enjoy the struggles and eventual proxy triumph of a stoic and good hero. That’s no minor subplot, either. At times this beautifully executed film, a tale of resistance to corruption set against the backdrop of a Mixed Martial Arts scene slowly losing its innocence to outsiders seeking to co-opt its philosophy for personal gain, feels like a slightly higher-brow version of the classic work of the undisputed master of the proletarian purity-vs.-corruption fight film, John G. Avildsen, the man who brought Rocky , The Karate Kid and The Power of One so vividly to life.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?