‘Rambo’ Does Little For Burma

SYLVESTER STALLONE THINKS HE’S helping the people of Burma by playing the part of the vengeful warrior in his latest Rambo film. He’s even challenged the Burmese junta through the media. Sly recently told Reuters: “I’m only hoping that the Burmese military, because they take such incredible offence to this, would call it lies and scurrilous propaganda. Why don’t you invite me over? – Let me take a tour of your country without someone pointing a gun at my head and we’ll show you where all the bodies are buried…”

While that may be some well-intentioned bravado, it’s still bravado. The fact that some Burmese are apparently using the movie – in which Stallone is depicted killing Burmese soldiers and rescuing a village from genocide – as a rallying point to rail against the government doesn’t make the film any more valuable. It is, after all, a violent fantasy designed to bring Americans to the box office. Though I’ll admit to not having seen the film (and having no plans whatsoever to do so), I’ll bet you that John Rambo does little to address social change after he’s through slicing open soldiers’ heads.

The reality is that Stallone would’ve jumped on any political bandwagon tied to his film. Rambo could just as easily have decided to bludgeon Janjaweed militiamen in Darfur, or hack the Taliban to bits in rural Pakistan – neither scenario would make the actor qualified to represent a movement. This shtick is old hat: just another famous person who’s done nothing of real merit groping for a more worldly self-image.

I haven’t yet mentioned the more the obvious criticisms. For one, the Buddhist monks who successfully led massive protests back in September did so with a spirit of non-violence, a central tenet of their philosophy and the Burmese way of life. Rambo’s antics resemble more closely the cruelty of Myanmar’s regime. Another point: media studies show that watching violence may cause more violent behavior, but more often it allows for catharsis. In other words, the frustrations of the Burmese people are temporarily (and uselessly) relieved by watching Rambo empty pounds of lead into soldiers’ bodies, though no change is effected.

When it comes down to it, Stallone is an actor. He’s invested himself in the Burma issue insofar as it took to play a character in a movie, and now he wants to be a hero in the real world? Burma already has it’s heroes in Aung San Suu Kyi, the leaders of the Democratic Party for a New Society, and all the unnamed individuals who’ve scraped tirelessly and given their lives to create a better nation.

Photo: free Burma! by PePandora.

4 Responses to “‘Rambo’ Does Little For Burma”


  1. 1 Mike H February 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Bravo, I think you are absolutely correct in your assessment.

  2. 2 theharbinger February 9, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Yeah, well done, and cheers to not watching that movie.

  3. 3 Petra - PePandora February 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    hi Ben :)
    i’ve seen my photo, and i’m happy you liked it and used it for something i absolutely agree with! i think it’s a shame they’re trying to pretend that Rambo is the brand new hero of freedom!! and above all in Myanmar where, as you evenly said, the spirit of non-violence is a key point of philosophy.
    So, well done. And if you’d like to put more of my pics in your interesting blog, let me know.
    bye bye
    Petra

  4. 4 Nik Ainu August 12, 2008 at 2:50 am

    An interesting post. However, if you have watched the DVD extras, or any other interviews with Stallone during the time this film was released, he fully understands that nothing will really be done by the international community about it. His main intention was to bring awareness to people across the world, especially in the States, about this event. I knew nothing about this event until the film was released.

    All the Rambo films take a situation plaguing a group of people during that time period and make it, not just a piece of entertainment (as Stallone clearly points out that’s the main purpose of RAMBO) and to bring it to people’s attention. The first Rambo was about the treatment the Vietnam vets received, second, the possibility of POWs in Vietnam, third, the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan and exterminating those people.

    Stallone is quick to point out that the movie, first and foremost, is pure entertainment; but wants people to be more aware of what’s going on in that region. People scream about Darfur, well, Darfur, while horrible, is nothing like Burma. A sixty year civil war and hardly anyone knows about it. That’s a shame.

    You have an interesting assessment but, until you actually see the movie and listen to the commentary and see the extras, and watch more interviews with Stallone, your assessment is merely an empty opinion.


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