I was waiting to see how long it would take for someone on the left to publicly express concern over the new movie Act of Valor and the supposedly ominous precedent it may be setting when it comes to U.S. military cheerleading. I should've known it would be David Sirota to stop wringing his hands long enough to grab that flag with both of them and run it up the hill.
You'll remember that last May, Sirota penned an almost laugh-out-loud silly piece decrying the Pentagon's involvement in getting itself tied into the promotion of X-Men: First Class, ostensibly to America's impressionable youth. As if anyone other than a blithering idiot would believe that strapping on the gear of a United States soldier turns him into Magneto. Well, in today's Salon, Sirota returns to the subject of his well-documented night terrors over the "Military Entertainment Complex," the rise of which would seem to be demonstrated by any form of popular media at all that people enjoy and which doesn't flat out preach pacifism and demonize our military.
If you haven't seen the commercials for it, Act of Valor is a film which purports to star active duty Navy SEALs, certainly making it a first-of-its-kind endeavor and one that's undeniably intended to be two-hours of pro-troops propaganda. Controversy arises only if you think that glorifying a group of people who put their lives on the line in the defense of this country is something disturbingly sinister. I haven't seen the movie; it may be terrible from a filmmaking and storyline standpoint. I don't, however, think the overall "message" of a movie like this is necessarily a negative one. Obviously and not at all surprisingly, Sirota disagrees.
As with every time I bring up David Sirota, this is where I take a second to remind everyone that he wrote an entire book positing that our current political climate can be traced back to movies like Ghostbusters and Die Hard. Oliver Willis hits it pretty squarely on the head when he calls him "serially stupid."
Look, I hate to get all Colonel Nathan Jessup here, but we have an all-volunteer military in this country and somebody needs to step up and do the very difficult job that Sirota would never in a million years even be able to do, much less undertake voluntarily. I don't always back the people making the decisions to send our men and women into battle, but I almost always back the men and women themselves and I see nothing wrong with showing them some respect and with honoring their actions, by and large, by making them seem noble, heroic and larger-than-life in popular culture.
Likewise, while it's tough to fully trust an establishment entity like the Pentagon -- which admittedly has a history of treachery and malfeasance, as all military and political institutions do -- it's not beyond comprehension that it would want to make itself and its mission appear to the masses in the best light possible and to, yes, advertise. A certain segment -- though absolutely not all -- of Hollywood gets on board for the same reason that the entertainment industry has, for decades, glorified cops, firefighters and servicemen-and-women: because their jobs are dangerous and the life-and-death decisions and situations they can face every day are something completely alien to most people.
People go see Act of Valor or play Modern Warfare because it's exciting. Again, only an idiot doesn't understand what real warfare is like -- particularly given the number of media resources readily available today -- and rarely do movies, television and even video games completely gloss over the horrors of armed conflict. But Sirota, who's the modern standard-bearer of the self-appointed Liberal Protective Class, believes that we're all easy dupes for whatever supposed propaganda is aimed in our direction and therefore must be safeguarded from it at all costs.
I apparently don't know enough to be able to separate fact from fiction from hype when I see a movie like Act of Valor. Thank God for guys like David Sirota who can enlighten and coddle me from on high while comically shaking a fist at the bad people trying to have their way with me.