Dune by Aftab
I’ve been reading Dune, which is pretty cool, but one thing strikes me. A lot of our pop culture heroes are basically terrorists or, at best, vigilantes. Take this example from the Galactic Empire Times: “Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday” (GET). If you look at from another side, all of these movie heroes are quite tainted by their killing and quite easily spun in the other direction.
The fact is that violence is generally a crappier strategy against a large, heavily armed foe. Like one with a Death Star. Or spooky time travel wizards. According to researchers Stephan and Chenoweth, “Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns.”
Perhaps even more odiously, if they do win, violent campaigns often turn out to be worse than what they overthrew, or at least bad. I think this is mainly because they are based on something bad – killing – and you can only go so far from there.
Still, we fill our pop culture with tales of noble violent resistance and even inculcate our boy children with the idea. While people react with horror to school shootings and rampages, similar behavior is justified by ‘everybody thinks I’m crazy but I’m saving the world’ movies like Terminator or even Thor/Iron Man. All of this movies involve shitloads of violence, death and property damage – usually to cops. The same behavior, however, is publicly vilified.
I’m not saying that we make every movie like Gandhi, but I think the myth of glorious violence is just that, a myth. We can somehow acknowledge that in reality but not in fantasy. What we’re selling to our youth, however, is a bit of a toxic cocktail. Fuck, I’m getting old. I enjoy violent movies as well, but I enjoy gangster ones, where you can enjoy the depraved bits while still maintaining awareness that this is bad. Lately I find that movies glorifying similar behavior for political reasons just seem false.