As Miguel pointed out earlier, the Social Justice crowd just can’t handle the movie 12 Strong.
First it was that the movie made a much of mass murdering, women oppressing, terrorists the bad guys.
Yep, 12 Strong is just too masculine for these milquetoast limp-dicks.
“As Hollywood begins to navigate the #MeToo landscape,” Tatiana Siegel reported, “one of the first casualties appears to be big-screen erotica. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, studios are steering clear of sex.” Alyssa Rosenberg, writing in the Washington Post, hopes that Hollywood’s embarrassed executives are navigating “the end of a very narrow way of thinking about what’s alluring.” Instead of movies that objectify women, she suggests more films that portray sex and sexuality in intelligent ways.
This reckoning is long overdue. And it can be extended to another genre that has distorted how men behave: war movies. Hollywood has shown itself capable of making excellent war movies (think “Three Kings,” “Paths of Glory,” and “The Best Years of Our Lives”), but most are problematic. Some of the biggest war movies of the post-9/11 era don’t just show violence in ways that are often gratuitous and occasionally racist. They model a cliched form of masculinity that veers from simplistic to monstrous.
For instance, you can see Rambo and John Wayne return to life in the latest war blockbuster, “12 Strong,” which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who also brought us “Black Hawk Down.” “12 Strong” is an extravaganza about a Special Forces team that fought the Taliban in Afghanistan in the weeks and months after 9/11. During the movie’s pivotal scene, the leader of the Green Berets, played by Chris Hemsworth (the grievously handsome star of the Thor franchise), decimates a hive of Taliban fighters with his rifle ablaze as he gallops ahead on his fearless horse (yes, he’s riding a horse). In the same way that Hemsworth’s assault weapon goes rat-tat-tat and the bad guys fall like bulleted dominoes, the scene itself checks off one born-in-Hollywood cliché after another: of the rugged gunslinger, the warrior in camo, good versus evil, the modern vanquishing the profane, a man at his fullest.
Since Peter Maass (not to be confused with Peter Maas, who wrote one of the best non fiction books I have ever read) has shit for brains, I think I will explain this slowly.
The Taliban regularly rape women and girls in villages they had conquered. Then they would stone these same women to death for infidelity, because they had been raped.
The Taliban are the Harvey Weinsteins.
The US Special Forces that went into Afghanistan fought the Taliban. They rescued women from being raped by Taliban forces. T
The Special Forces are … not like anybody in Hollywood because they all knew and went along with it for the money.
Taliban = raping terrorist = bad guys. Special forces = good guys. It’s not much more complex than that.
Whenever I write about the real-world impact of war movies – and I’ve gone to bat against “American Sniper,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “13 Hours” — I always get responses along the lines of “Relax, these are just movies. Don’t take them so seriously. They’re harmless.” That’s when it becomes necessary to say that movies can create or reinforce narratives of history and gender that influence what people think and what they do. Boys and men develop their notions of masculinity from a variety of sources that include the films they watch (the extent to which this is true is, of course, open to debate). The time has come for Hollywood to turn away from war movies that, while satisfying to both a studio’s bottom line and a flag-waving concept of patriotism, perpetuate a model of masculinity that does violence to us all.
Rescue the women and children, protect the innocent, kill the terrorists. That’s not toxic. That’s been a man’s duties since the beginning of time.
Somewhere, a long, long time ago, some cave man looked at his son and said:
“Ugh, there is a saber tooth tiger coming this way. The women and children are hiding in the back of the cave. Take this sharpened stick and go kill it before it eats one of us.”
If Ugh didn’t do that, we as a species never would have survived. Over the millennia, their decedents have fought off predators and conquering hordes to protect the women and the children. That is a noble duty of men.
Don’t get me wrong, soldiers often do brave things and shouldn’t be denied credit for it. I’ve reported on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Bosnia, so I’ve seen heroism from soldiers of many nationalities, as well as cowardice and abuse. That’s not the issue. What matters is that well into the second decade of our forever war, the combat movies that populate our multiplexes and our minds are devoted to a martial narrative of men-as-terminators that should have been strangled at its birth a long time ago.
Yes, we should all aspire to be John Kerry and bend over backwards to bolster our enemies because he’s sensitive and progressive.
Better yet, let’s not.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The best war film of the last year, “Thank You for Your Service,” based on the nonfiction book by David Finkel, quietly focuses on the troubles of a group of soldiers after they come home from a deployment in Iraq. The film has only two battle scenes, and both are excruciating to watch because their violence is frightening rather than glorious – the opposite of Bruckheimer’s feel-good shoot-’em-ups. The men in “Thank You for Your Service” are struggling with PTSD, painfully coming to the awareness that the combat that gave them such purpose in Iraq has injured their psyches. Nobody looks like Thor in this movie, nobody behaves like Thor, and the John Wayne style of masculinity that these men might have aspired to emulate is shown to be an artificial and harmful construct.
No, Thank You For Your Service was a liberal war movie that shit on the military, America, and patriotism. Liberals love a war movie that makes the military look awful. They get off on their hatred for traditional patriotic values. Talk about a toxic mentality.
“12 Strong” earned nearly twice as much in three days as “Thank You for Your Service” has earned in three months. And the numbers – more than $15 million in ticket sales for “12 Strong” in its first week – are Venmo pennies compared to the box office take of “American Sniper,” the macho movie about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle that has earned more than half a billion dollars since 2014. Who is at fault for the lucrative war chum that Hollywood tosses into our Saturday nights – the movie studios or the movie-goers who love to consume this masculine nonsense?
I think the best explanation of this is to quote General George S. Patton, a man who pissed more testosterone that Maass has in his whole body.
“Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”
Chris Kyle was a winner, the men in 12 Strong were winners, Hollywood making a movie that rubs the idea of how shitty America is to it’s veterans in the face of Middle America is a loser.
I am at this point reminded of a quote, often attributed to George Orwell.
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.“
America celebrates those who are ready to do violence on our behalf. Protecting the innocent from those who want to do us harm is a virtue.
Confusing that virtue for a bunch of Hollywood elites abusing their power to take advantage of women is not virtue. It’s evil. So is terrorism.
Engaging in some sort of moral equivocation that makes one the same as the other is toxic idiocy.
American Sniper, Blackhawk Down, and 12 strong are movies for men who love their wives and children, and would put their lives on the line to protect them.
These same moves are criticized by males who need to have another man satisfy their wives.