Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Current Crisis in US Counterinsurgency: The Movie

I'm not trying to mock seydlitz here. I thought of this, enjoy the humor, and it seems to me that the methods of our present dealings with the inhabitants of southcentral Asia are about as sensible as the centurion's here.

As Ael says:
"Trying to figure a rational way to win the Afghan civil war without intending to own Afghanistan at the end is a pointless exercise. That the USA is actually trying to do this tells you that the motivation for the war has nothing to do with Afghanistan and everything to do with the great game being fought in Washington. Look at the cost of the war versus the Afghan GDP."
We are fighting for tactics and details and completely missing the point.


  1. LOL, I began to laugh uncontrollably on the mere thought of viewing that video again!

  2. Sven: Part of my enjoyment of this comes from various Latin classes (both as a Catholic kid and in college). I had a very donnish professor in college who had a style a bit like Cleese parodies here, and it used to make me snicker every time he'd start leading a student along like this. "Ite? Conjugate the verb, then...but we're speaking of something that happened in the past, aren't we? Yes, so it's not the PRESENT perfect but the PAST, then..." and picturing him doing this with a sword to the student's throat...

  3. This clip really saddens me.

    Python casually intertwines slapstick with deep intellectual humour. "The Life of Brian" was widely distributed and stirred great controversy.

    Has anyone seen as brave a film get a similar distribution in the last 10 years?

  4. What, you mean "Avatar" doesn't count?

  5. Ael: I think that part of the problem is the greatly increased power of the god-pestering authoritarians. Back in the late Seventies - when "Brian" came out - the religious conservative noise machine was in its toddlerhood AND we were just coming out of a relatively irreligious (at least for a significant public minority) period, when experimental and frankly skeptical takes on religion were more mainstream AND it was made by the Pythons, who at the time were a monster money-spinner.

    Along with everything else, the real success of the right-wing has been to move the entire public and the "center" of the discussion to the right. So "Brian", which was the object of mild opprobrium when it was released, would be violently attacked today. Look at the difference; 1979, "Life of Brian"...2004, "The Passion of the Christ".

    I'd be shocked if a major studio would green-light a "Life of Brian" today. The closest I can think of is Maher's "Religulous", which substituted polemic for intelligence and mockery for humor.

    I think part of the whole nutroll, too, is that we're entering a partisan, angry time - we're closer to where we were in 1845 or 1859 than where we were in 1979. What would have been accepted with a bit of partisan grunbling back in '79 has become more contentious - and less accepted - today.

  6. Avatar was a brave film? I really enjoyed it but the plot was pretty standard fare.

  7. Andy: Perhaps I should have been less sarcastic; no, "Avatar" doesn't count. It is "Little Big Man" with Thundercat-smurfs, or maybe "They Died With Their Boots On" with living trees. Pure paint-by-numbers, from everything I've read.

    I will eventually get around to seeing it just to see if Cameron's tactical stuff pisses me off as much as George Lucas' does.

  8. Chief,

    See it in 3D - it's worth it. It's so immersive that you mostly forget about the bad, predictable plot. It is a pretty amazing movie and could have been so much more with some better writing.

  9. I would strongly agree with Andy to go see Avatar but I wouldn't say that the plot is bad. It's more acurate to say that we've seen the base story about 50,000 times already. Also, don't go to the movie for insights into world-building, the science of Avatar is totally ridiculous.

    But it was truly an immersive film that has an amazing number of sub-stories that are pretty good. The 3D is amazing for two reasons, first because it is a major technical breakthrough that the movie industry badly needed. Second because it is very deftly handled, they don't throw spears at the audience to watch us flinch for the entire movie.

    Cameron's tactical stuff is definitely better Lucas' (could it be worse?), but I'll let you decide for yourself as to whether it is good.

  10. OMG. I'm getting old and the times are passing me by. I just realized that I submitted a "back in my days, the films were different and better" kind of post. To my horror, and after some reflection, I still think it is true!

    When I was a kid, I always hated it when some old fart would say things like "When I was your age ..".

  11. Agreed on Avatar, visually stunning, and let's leave it at that. It is not much different from Cameron's Aliens series, where the evil corporation ruled the world and the military was a pawn of the corporation. And George Lucus tactics? Wow, let's not go there either.

    I've seen both Mel Brooks' musicals, The Producers and Young Frankenstein. It was interesting to see in the Producers that we were literally stopping the show, falling out of our chairs laughing with the gay jokes, but in Young Frankenstein there was a fairly graphic song singing about "Don't touch my tits" and people didn't know if they could laugh out loud, it was awkward.

    The joke at the end of YF was that Blazing Saddles is next. Can you imagine if someone tried to release Blazing Saddles today? Mel Brooks would be lynched. What a great movie for no particular reason except just ridiculous humor.

  12. bg: I still love the little body of work from Mel's "Funny Period", starting with The Producers (I'm too young to remember the "Your Show of Shows" and "The Critic" stuff) and running up to about the mid Seventies - I still think that "Silent Movie" has it's moments, although I could be wrong - but it's interesting how some of the humor has held up and some hasn't.

    Brooks was a comic of the vaudeville circuit, and his humor never really changed. If it was there, he'd use it, throwing gag after gag at the audience and racing on. So look at "Blazing Saddles"; you have the racial jokes that keep on coming...but you have gay jokes, old people jokes, sex jokes, drug jokes, whatever.

    What I find interesting is that the race jokes in BS still hold up pretty well - which says something for the persistence of race and racism as a source of discomfort for us. But the drug jokes? They come across as silly as travelling salesman gags. Remember the enormous blunt in "History of the World"? Just doesn't translate in 2010...

    And the vaudeville style of japery is really done. So I'm not sure that a Brooks movie would get greenlighted today just because I'm not sure a producer would "get it".

  13. Oh yeah, Blazing Saddles - that's my favorite Brooks film.