Friday, November 04, 2005


I just won a bet with a friend over what David Denby's review of Jarhead would look like. I suspected Denby wouldn't like it much because it isn't antimilitary or anti-Bush. Here's his thoroughly predictable conclusion:
“Jarhead” has an oddly amorphous and inconclusive feeling to it. We never do find out who Tony is, and his best friend, Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), who shifts back and forth between sanity and hysteria, is a mystery, too. The old war-story narrative may have run aground in the Gulf War, but since questions of courage and character are left up in the air, you wonder why the material wasn’t played differently—with a greater sense of irony, say, or as absurdist comedy, in something like the style of David O. Russell’s Gulf War movie, “Three Kings.” What’s left instead of laughter is a rather sour implication. Underneath all the roughhousing, there’s a persistent sexual menace—towel-snapping in the shower and mock rapes and insults that depend on feminizing the victim of the joke. Broyles and Mendes are saying, I think, that men who are this casually abusive of one another’s bodies could slip, without much provocation, into sexually humiliating detained prisoners. “Jarhead” is an inglorious portrait of military life which points to the next Gulf War and the degrading japes of Abu Ghraib and other prisons.

If you see Jarhead this weekend, you'll understand how silly this is.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service to your country.

Anonymous said...

kwawk says,"then we will be forced to deal with the problems that actually create terrorists.." The main "problem" in the world creating terrorism is Islam.

Anonymous said...

Abu Ghraib more stems from the constant dehumanizing of the enemy without real purpose.

Please. It stemmed from two factors: lax oversight (which one can rightly be critical of the Pentagon/Army for) and a handful of irresponsible soldiers. The main guy (whose name I've forgotten) abused prisoners in the States when he worked as a prison guard. You cannot extrapolate from the actions of a handful of people to the entire Armed Forces, or the Administration, or the American people.

When you talk about Limbaugh's comments, you have to put them in the context of the hysteria that was provoked by the pictures. He was countering the claim that the prisoners were being "tortured". If you're going to take him hyper-literally, you need to take the media squawking hyper-literally, too. In which case the media was completely bonkers and Rush was a little bit over-the-top. (Rush Limbaugh, over-the-top? Really? Who could imagine such a thing?)

Mike S.

Anonymous said...

You dehumanize your enemy to make it easier to kill your enemy. In all wars there has been a dehumanization of the enemy (both sides do it). In certain situation, dehumanizing your enemy is easy, the Nazis really were a nasty lot of people. Islamic militants/terrorists are another nasty lot of people so it is easy to dehumanize them.

Anonymous said...

I never got the sense Last looked favorably on the Abu Graib torture - the opposite actually. Also true that what fuels terrorism is Islam perverted, not America or Britain or Indonesia or Israel or Morocco. But anyway, I agree on the Denby point and I really enjoyed your own review of Jarhead on Your reviews are always so much better than that dude in the Washington Post.

Anonymous said...


first, as stated above, thank you for your service.

but this makes no sense:

"What this boils down to is that we will turn the corner on the war on terror when we get back to following our own beliefs. When America truely believes in the values of the DOI and Constitution and Geneva Convention, then we will be forced to deal with the problems that actually create terrorists rather than just reacting to them and morphing into them."

Can it realy be seriously argued that the motivation for Islamofacism is that America is not following our own beliefs? That we need to be a better example, and all will right itself, terrorism will lose it's purpose? The saying that comes to mind is "you're not even wrong".

Anonymous said...

re the movie...I thought of seeing it, but when I saw and heard the trailer on TV - with the [c]rap "music" - I thought, "nope".

Anonymous said...

iIslam is no more perveted than Christianity or Judaiism. People have always and will always use religion to justify acts of great cruelty and humanity.

If you look throughout all of history, you are correct; however, currently, the Islamists are unrivaled in perverting their own religion.

Anonymous said...

kwawk said, "Islam is ono more perverted than Judiasm or Christianity.....people have always used religion to justify cruelty..." Did I miss the recent spate of Baptist suicide bombers? How about the Mormon car-bombing campaign? Jewish decapitators? Islam is a backwards, fascistic religion/worldview that is uniquely incapable of coping with modernity.

As to your point about winning hearts and minds, would those be the same hearts that were brimming with joy the day 3000 of my countrymen were slaughtered on 9/11? The same minds that thought the Jews did it? You remember, the happy folk who were dancing in the streets of Cairo and Ramallah eating cake and ice cream while the Towers burned? The collective Muslim mind, such as it is, has been poisoned by decades of anti-western scpapegoating and Jew hatred. Do you think it's a mistake that copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion sell better than falafel in the streets Amman? Which brings me to my next point, the Palestinian issue. Why should a muslim in Iraq or Pakistan give a hoot in hell about the Palestinians any more than I should care about folks in Northern Ireland? It's a crutch; a way for the currupt of a backwards culture to explain away failure. Are we forgetting the Oslo accords? Are we forgetting Wye River and Camp David where the Palestinians were offered their own state and chose instead the Second Intifadah? Who has been more solicitous of muslim sensibilities than the French and we are approaching day Ten of JihadaPalooza in the suburbs of Paris. Open your eyes.

P.S. Even though we disagree, I also want to thank you for your service.