Archive for February 7th, 2008

‘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.

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