The Oscars are tomorrow night and two of the movies up for Best Picture are The Hurt Locker and Avatar, both of which I actually got to see. I just saw Hurt Locker last night at a theatre – there were only around half a dozen other people in the theatre, which I presume means everyone else is watching it on dvd.
This was a very powerful movie. Painful to watch but I believe a very important movie. We invaded Iraq in 2003 under the false pretense of searching for weapons of mass destruction. We predictably didn’t find any yet we are still in Iraq seven years later, fighting a war that is not ours, in a country that is not ours, in a situation that we can’t possibly win and where we are hated by most people in that country. Hurt Locker featured three main characters, each representing a different kind of soldier. Some people have said the plot was weak and the characters were unlikely. Regardless of that, the movie is a very real snapshot of the damage that is being done as much to the American men and women who are fighting in this war as to the Iraqi citizens who are living in constant fear and chaos. It is disturbing and it is impossible to imagine living in this kind of situation, either as a soldier or a civilian. It explains why troops who return from this war may have most of their body parts intact or put back together but their hearts and minds are gone, the psychological damage is beyond repair. It also explains why we are hated. We should not be fighting wars in countries that do not want us on their land, that have been fighting their own civil and tribal wars since time immemorial and that have no hope of resolution, at least by the United States. The soldiers have a clear disdain for the Iraqi people, maybe because the soldiers resent risking their lives for people who are not European and/or Christian. It seems that if one is going to risk one’s life, it should be for a cause one believes in and this movie leaves me wondering if the soldiers have any idea who the enemy is and what will constitute victory. There is genocide going on in the world that we are ignoring because those countries do not have anything we want (oil, harbors, for example). We are not fighting for justice, we are fighting to protect and feed our greed and I hope people watch this movie and think twice about the high price we all are paying, who is benefiting and if it is really worth it.
On that note, I hope The Hurt Locker wins. And I definitely hope Avatar does not. While people may get caught up in the New Age and environmental themes, those of us who are indigenous laugh at how it takes a member of the colonizers (ie the white guy) to save the tree hugging people who are entirely too inept to save themselves. The “hero” gets the ultimate wannabe wish to become indigenous and lead the people, who fall at his feet. Sorry, it doesn’t ring true for those who know the history of invasion, colonization and genocide of native peoples. It’s ironic that these two war-themed movies, directed by two people who were once married, are so different. Real vs fantasy, truth vs fiction. May the truth prevail.