Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.

Sylvester Stallone has made a new movie called The Expendables, which apparently is a throwback to the old 1980s-era action films. A guy named Steven Zeitchik criticized the film’s “hard-charging, take-no-prisoners patriotism unbothered by the vagaries of the real world.” Which triggered this response from Stallone on The O’Reilly Factor:

Now, I have not seen this film. But I will say that I think O’Reilly and Stallone are misinterpreting Zeitchik’s criticism. They seem to be thinking his problem with the movie is that it’s some sort of American propaganda for people in other countries. Zeitchik was in fact complaining that the film was reinforcing American patriotism for Americans themselves. (I’m still surprised that Stallone even claimed Zeitchik was “reading in metaphors”. I would have thought he and O’Reilly would be openly patriotic.)

The really key exchange, though, is this:

O’Reilly: “[The movie] is macho guys like you, alright, killing bad guys.”

Stallone: “That’s right.”

Later, Stallone says: “It’s simple: You’re bad, you gotta go.”

With a few exceptions, movies in general rely on the simple formula of “the good guys” vs. “the bad guys”. The only thing that remains to be seen is: who are “the bad guys”? The writer’s choice of who to cast as “the bad guys” is what determines the political, social, religious etc. theories (if any) of the film.

For example, in James Cameron’s movie Avatar, the Native-American-like indigenous creatures are portrayed as “the good guys”, whereas the human, English-speaking, white male military contractors are portrayed as “the bad guys”. This offers some insight into the political thesis of the movie.

Which brings me to the point: are the “good guys” in Stallone’s movie Americans and the bad guys not Americans? That would seem to be the key question here.

(Hat Tip to Big Hollywood)

What's your stake in this, cowboy?