01/23/2004                              Beyond the line of mind control


I saw LOC the other day. Nice movie. You know, the ‘leave your brains at home’ kind, the kind that doesn’t unnecessarily force you to use your intelligence. Just sit in the lower stalls, put two fingers in your mouth and whistle away any remnant of sanity and logic.


It’s the kind of movie that glorifies the sound and smell of war, the flowing of blood and the agonized twisting of bodies instead of painting the pointless, horrible tragedy of war on your conscience.


There’s a feeble attempt to explain why it became necessary to wage a war, but that’s just because they couldn’t start the firing right from the titles. Just a whole lot of guys going and graphically blowing up other guys and / or getting blown up instead. That and the constant use of swear words. That’s the movie’s claim – and limit – to reality. The moment a film shows its characters mouthing swear words, it immediately becomes eligible to be called art cinema. By the time the movie meanders its way to the end, you almost catch yourself uttering each swear word along with the heroes – such is the impact of the hate that this movie promotes.


I don’t mind the movies that call themselves ‘action’ films and do just that, spraying a lot of tomato ketchup all over the screen. It’s these pretentious movies that call themselves ‘patriotic’ that cause more harm than good, promoting the glamour of war and soldiering to audiences who are seeking just this kind of escape from reality and give them a target and a reason to hate more than their own their daily frustrated, oppressed lives.


And speaking of war, what a paradox that while our leaders are out there, for once trying to defuse the tension between the two countries, along comes a movie firing the common man’s imagination with bloodthirsty scenes of killing and blowing up and maiming. Even the movie’s advertisement highlights how many soldiers were shot in the eye. Nothing better than nice old-fashioned gore to bring the masses trooping in.


There is nothing more potent than the medium of cinema to convey a social message. It is a medium enjoyed and loved by one and all, educated and illiterate, rich and the poor, in the cities and in the villages. There is nothing that can potentially impact society more easily, deeply or rapidly. And LOC is how we want to use it?


Is LOC the best we have to offer our soldiers who die protecting our borders? Is this our tribute to them?