Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Hurt Locker: War Is A Drug

"The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug." - Chris Hedges

Yuko and I saw The Hurt Locker this weekend and I was convinced it deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, as well as Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow. It was a gritty, terrifying and profound indictment of U.S. policy, not only foreign, but domestic. The ravages inflicted during war are never confined to the battlefield or to an "enemy." As others have pointed out, slavery, for example, devastated more than just the slaves - the oppressors were turned into slave masters. War will bite you in the ass, no matter what side you're on.

Iraq may have been the film's setting, but it was expansive enough to take in the concept of war and militarism in general. The film focuses on one character, Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) who is a typical cowboy, a reckless "wild man." Through his addiction to the adrenalin rush of battle, he not only puts himself into harm's way, but ends up risking the lives of his fellow soldiers. When he returns home for a break he's a flaccid amoeba of a man, literally lost in the supermarket at one point. In perhaps the film's most poignant scene, James share's a few moments with his baby boy and all he sees is disillusionment and cynicism. Joy and love are as foreign to him as peace and security are to Iraq.

The bigger statement resonates loud and clear - a nation that goes to war for no more reason than because it can, is doomed to destroy itself. I think we've been witnessing the slow death of the U.S. since the day George W. Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court in December 2000. It's a death that is all consuming, bigger than Obama or its own constitution.

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