Payback Time



Now and then I pay for a ticket and see a movie like everyone else, usually because it's something that the studio wouldn't screen for critics. Like "The Expendables 2," which I saw not long ago. Whenever I do so I always enjoy the trailers, either because they are about films I'm interested in, or because they are dumb and amusing, or both.

But watching these trailers, something occurred to me. By around the fourth or fifth one I realized that they were all about revenge, about really angry people who are out to redress their grievances by the most violent, spectacular, and gruesome means possible. "Dredd,"


"Taken 2," "The Man With the Iron Fist," "Skyfall," "47 Ronin,"  -- one after another without exception, these films exulted in getting even, and then some. Nor did the feature presentation "The Expendables 2" alleviate this impression, as in one of it's lighter moments the title band of superannuated action heroes joke around [spoiler] with a severed head taken from a bad guy as a trophy.

Now, there never has been a shortage of popular entertainment exploiting an audience's taste for vengeance, and that goes back, oh, to Greek Tragedy at least. It probably always will be so. So to quote the old canard, it's only a movie.

Except that some recent news stories suggest that, as genre films tend to do, this sudden proliferation of revenge movies is tapping into some genuinely freaky rage. Not just from solitary kooks with guns stocking bomb shelters, but also from elected public officials in positions of power and responsibility. Like Texas Republican judge Tom Head, the Lubbock country emergency management coordinator, who claims that the biggest threat to the country is the re-election of Obama because it will spark an armed insurrection.

Not that Head thinks that's a bad idea. He believes that Obama will "try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations." He adds, "What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war. ... I'm not just talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator."

He may also might be talking about something like the militia group of active duty US soldiers arrested the other day for plotting to assassinate the President and commit acts of terror with the intention of starting the armed uprising that Judge Head looks forward to. Apparently they murdered one of their own members, and his girlfriend, because they thought he was going to turn them in. Investigators found "$87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, other guns and bomb components" cached in their apartments.

Maybe these guys should try writing movies. Something like the "Red Dawn" remake opening in November in which teenaged militiamen fight off an invasion of the US by North Koreans. It used to sound to me like a nutty premise for escapist entertainment. But I guess some people believe it's the real thing.

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