Via Instapundit comes this astounding piece
of in Slate by David Plotz: Red Dawn: Its portrait of Russia is dated. Its portrait of America is timely—and terrifying.
Red Dawn embodies conservative nutterdom in a way few films not made by Mel Gibson have ever managed. If Ann Coulter made a movie, it would look like Red Dawn. This is thanks to director John Milius. Apocalypse Now screenwriter, Conan the Barbarian auteur, and former NRA board member, Milius is a military zealot, infatuated with the warrior code. Red Dawn is really a fetish movie, an ode to guns and blood.
A “fetish movie”? An “ode to guns and blood”? It might be, I guess. But if it is, there are hundreds of action movies, most of them not military-themed, much more deserving of the titles.
Plotz points out that Red Dawn is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “most violent” movie ever made. It apparently got this record by having 134 separate acts of violence, more than any other movie. I watched it again not too long ago, and I guess I’ve got to say that most of the violent acts are pretty tame by most standards.
Plotz goes on to write
But what’s most unsettling about Red Dawn today is not its infatuation with the warrior death cult. It’s that the movie’s historical parallels have been turned upside down. In 1984, the Soviets of Red Dawn represented, well, the Soviets, and the Wolverines represented both the Americans and also the plucky Afghan mujahideen then defeating the Red Army in a guerilla war. But on re-viewing, Red Dawn isn’t a stark reminder of Cold War fears. Rather, it’s a pretty good movie about Iraq, with the United States in the role of the Soviets and the insurgents in the role of the Wolverines.
He then goes on to list all sorts of things which prove his point, but at the end of his article he admits that “Red Dawn is not an exact parallel to our situation.” He points out the things at odds with his parallel, and it sure seems to deflate his whole point. What he seems to be missing is that the portrayal of the invaders in the film was pretty much a cardboard cut-out caricature of the evil Commie bastards, while at the same time he’s taking what appears to be his own cardboard cut-out caricature opinions of the US military in Iraq and comparing the two. In short, he seems to be saying his ill-informed opinion of the campaign in Iraq is eerily similar to his ill-informed opinion of the film Red Dawn.
Also, I’m wondering if the deleted scenes section of the DVD includes the plot about how Patrick Swayze and the Wolverines spent most of their time killing and terrorizing civilians instead of attacking enemy troops. I don’t remember that part, but if it’s in there somewhere the comparisons between the US freedom fighters and the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq would hold up a bit better.
I haven’t picked up the collector’s edition DVD yet, but I think it’s high time I did so.
Also, while Plotz spends all sorts of time telling us who Milius is, what he’s all about, and how he shuck his political messages into the film, he didn’t bother telling us what Milius said the film was about. Milius says the Soviets, Cubans, and Nicaraguans actually represent the US Federal government and that the movie is basically about gun control.