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January 18, 2008

Stallone: Bin Ladin Too Real For Rambo

As this guy notes, Stallone is fairly bright. I've always thought that -- even when he writes bad scripts, he still is writing scripts, now isn't he? And he's managed a few really good ones along the way.

He explains why Rambo doesn't take on Al Qaeda in the new Rambo film:

I thought the idea of Rambo dealing with Al-Qaeda, etc. would be an insult to our American forces that are actually dying trying to rid the world of this cancer. To have at the end of a 90 minute movie the character of Rambo seizing Osama bin Laden in a choke hold then dragging him into the Oval Office then tossing him in the President’s lap declaring “The world is now safe, Chief” would be a bit insulting.

Well, I think it's partly that, and partly the fact that Hollywood will not finance any movie featuring Muslim terrorists as the clear-cut villains they are without any moral equivalency injected into the narrative to "balance" it (as The Kingdom did recently). So he's partly lying about Hollywood politics and his unwillingness (or more accurately "inability") to confront them.

But he's right, of course, about the "insulting" nature of such a plotline. Comic-book characters have to confront comic-book problems and comic-book villains, not real-world problems and villains. I loved First Blood but hated Rambo. Because Rambo featured him "solving," mostly, a real-world (or at least putatively real-world) problem -- POWs left behind in Vietnam. That problem, if it is indeed real, is too real for our cinematic Sgt. Rock to take on.

I had the same problem with Rocky IV despite being a big fan of the series otherwise -- Rocky's going to take down the Soviet menace? Really?

And while I've praised Frank Miller for his courage in penning a Batman graphic novel featuring him taking on Al Qaeda, I've actually always had a bad feeling about the whole idea that I withheld. His intentions are praiseworthy, so I praised them. But Batman taking on Al Qaeda? I don't know if the mix of comic-book power fantasy and real-world horror will work. I suspect it won't.

In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't.

Doesn't seem like that book is ever actually going to come out, though, so I guess we'll never know for sure.

There are a lot of movies Hollywood could make about men fighting Al Qaeda. There are, in case they haven't noticed, real flesh-and-blood heroes doing so right now. Such movies would make hundreds of millions of dollars and couldn't be assailed politically because they're based on real world events.

And, because most of our War on Terror vets have high legal bills owing to the fact that they're all kill-crazy maniacs, I'm sure Hollywood could purchase their life-rights fairly cheaply.

But we won't get a movie like that, of course. We will get movies about the war, movies like Lions for Lambs and Stop-Loss and In the Valley of Eljah, featuring vets as victims/dupes ("if you don't do well in school, you wind up in Iraq") who need saving by Hollywood's preferred heroes, to wit, lawyers, college professors, reporters and psychiatrists.

But Rambo taking on bin Ladin? Nah. Sure, he's fighting real world villainy in his new movie, but it's distant from us, more easily trivialized.

Thanks to spongeworthy.

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posted by Ace at 04:19 PM

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