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In God we trust


Inicio > Política Internacional
23/02/2011

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Try to understand the world through the history of wars is a difficult task to undertake. Arguments for and against always arise when trying to explain the reasons that lead to a “rational leader” use “irrational methods” sending soldiers (racial minorities and lower class north-Americans) “to defend their homeland with his life”. Weather it was a cruel dictator who oppressed its citizens a Napoleonic leader threatening global security order, a “third world class” president that did not fit into the north-American model of democracy and so forth.


        The point is that there are countries, cities, families, and an individual who has amassed great fortunes on the basis of such conflicts and that’s a determinant fact. By the same token, we should ask ourselves in which dimension, conflicts are necessary for the present world order? Which is the identity game played by different nations in such conflicts? Is there a national identity (historically constructed) that can help us to analyze countries as individuals? Take the case of North America for example, playing the role of "redeemer of the world". In Second World War, north-Americans stripped of power along with Russia and the allies, that “semi antichrist” phenomenon called Adolph Hitler. It is as if in a secondary school a group of children were fighting with each other, after an intense round Sam comes along with Vladimir and other friends eventually defeating Franz, Hideo and Paolo. Sam is now the new hero of the school, its economy overflows implementing all the military machinery, rebuilding the half of the world, enjoying war reparations and so on. Sam already in high school, do not have bullies to beat, then it must be worth the resources to build and bring forth new bullies and perpetuate his role as a redeemer. These resources are represented by films and media in general. Inquire here the content of Hollywood in that sense it would take too many pages probably no one would want to write (and more importantly no one would like to read). But it is worth to hold on our horses and try to explore three basic points about north-American society: building of a military citizenship, “simplistic” perception of other cultures, and messianic construction of the nation.

a) Military citizenship: it seems like North American society is always at war. In schools, children compete with each other under the so-called culture of "loser “in which they prefer to kill and die before being recognized as losers. Walking on streets with a blue shirt can mean that a gang that wears red can beat you or kill you if the police don´t makes the job first. Looking into the eyes of another person while shopping at Seven-eleven can result in aggression. Rap music transmits the delights of being a gangster; rock music conveys the joys of youth consuming drugs distributed by the rap gangster. Series like "Weeds" or "Breaking bad" project drug dealers as successful characters. Being black, yellow, brown, red, is not the same as being white but you shall not talk about it in the name and respect of those discriminated groups. In sports, anything goes as long as you become a winner and keep a good image.

         Television series talk about autopsies, murderers, eccentric murderers, alien murderers, charismatic murders, superheroes, serial murderers, special power murderers, criminal agencies pursuing latinos,African-americans, Orientals and other races with a criminal profile (of course I am being sarcastic). Incorruptible police officers, incorruptible judges, incorruptible politician’s what the heck am I saying? Even corruption is an incorruptible issue in this god blessed country.

The subject of war films deserves special attention. The theme of the Second World War in particular is a Hollywood obsession. Could it be they want to remember their messianic role? A number of films are produced on the subject like if they were trying to remind us they are still “the good guys”. Do not forget the wave of "African films” in which North American soldiers safeguard democracy and freedom in the continent, leading his "uncivilized" citizens to neoliberal paradise fighting against the evil nature of ambitious dictators (I still can´t determine when they like or dislike “dictatorships”). The new film directors are admired for bringing scenes of violence in original ways. Children at school are better armed than some police officers; the children use to look scenes on YouTube that would scare an employee of the morgue. Is this the land of freedom? Is this what they mean when they sing the home of the brave?

b) Simplistic perception of other cultures: At this point I just want to emphasize how the media tend to represent very simplistic images of diverse cultures, races and nationalities. But also how north-Americans are immersed into a narcissist culture seems like other cultures and languages are worthless to know and learn, everyone should be “Americanized”. Curiously the USA is a country built by a large number of cultures, races and nationalities (although already transformed with the sweet touch of the U.S.) What´s the purpose of this view?  Could it is that the idea of the other as inferior contributes to build up my image of superiority? There is certain tendency to label at cuisine stereotypes. For example: a Frenchman is defined by the amount of cheese and wine he can consume, usually appear as naive, sophisticated, but also as thieves and murderers. If you come from the orient countries is the same for them if you are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Philippine, you´re such a “rice eater”. These characters use to appear as martial art fighters, criminals, and villains. The Italian citizen is the "spaghetti eater" usually appears associated with the image of Sicilian mob bosses or gigolos. It´s a social construction supported even for Italian American directors such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, QuentinTarantino, etc.

Is important to make a little pause here and try to identify one or two ambiguities. On one side characters like “The godfather” or Tony Soprano that come out from organized crime representations, yet are admired for the strength and power that are invested (take a visit to Oakland for an example), so that would give rise to a number of films and TV series. On the other hand, the ridiculous idea that drug traffic is a phenomenon excluded from the highest levels (classes and politicians) in the U.S. They are convinced that “the bad guys” come out from countries like Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, etc.

The country with the largest number of consumers worldwide must also have the best distributors and the best laboratories also, but it is very likely to be minorities who have engineered all this. I am sure customs never see the tons of drugs passing every day, honorable north-American politician do not benefit from drug traffic through tax heavens in the Caribbean laundering money, certainly not. Mexicans are known as “frijoleros”, over the years we have always played the role of murderer, drug dealers, thief’s or any other activity outside the law, with rare exceptions. It is only recently that figures like “Zorro” (in films closer  Spain and Mexico), or the “Mariachi” (still a murderer) or a number of “Latin lovers” in some series and movies have "vindicated" his image in terms that at least now appears as the protagonist, outside the law, but at least the protagonist.

c) Messianic construction of nation: “Oh say can you see” ... This must be the point that requires minor effort to be explained. We all know that this god blessed country was chosen to guide “the lost sheep” on the right track. If there's a Saddam, a Castro, a Chavez, a Bin Laden, there's always a super bush or a super Clinton to save us from “evildoers”. As I mentioned before this narcissism, this messianic self-image of the USA has its origins in Second World War. Throughout the cold war period we could explore “the villainy” and “tyranny” of Russians: they speak almost spitting, they only drink vodka and above all: they´re very, very bad. Rocky Balboa showed that “the freedom” he enjoyed in his training helped him defeat the repressive communist regime embodied in this fierce Russian known as Ivan Drago (even his name sounds bad).

        On “Air Force One” (1997) Harrison Ford plays the president of the land of freedom. A coward group of Russians led by actor Gary Oldman tried to hijack his plane. What a surprise the bad guys would take when they realized they have to fight the very same Indiana Jones. The flag of stars and stripes continues fluttering in the wind thanks to the courage and leadership of this fast and skilled trained North American president. He was specially trained to meet Russian terrorists trained to hijack U.S. presidents. Rambo also fought against the evil Russian empire. James Bond (although with this sample would be necessary to speak of love-hate relationships between UK and USA, but there´s no time, no space, and no inspiration to do that).

          After Perestroika and disintegration of the USSR the Russians ceased to be so bad and became less bad. Now since the early nineties, the main threat to the world is embodied in “the Arab” and terrorism and Muslims (must of the people tends to confuse the three different subjects). For Hollywood and the “average citizen” an Arab is a religious fanatic who gets on the subway trying to blow himself up in a crowd or driving a car bombing by Wilshire blvd in Los Angeles in the name of Allah. The risk here is that Hollywood consumers around the world also buy this stereotypes and fall into this messianic version of the world ... We shouldn’t be surprised if we come out of the movies and while driving our cars we hear a little voice in our minds repeating: in god we trust, in god we trust ... for the land of the freeeeeeeeeee and the hoooooome of the braaaaaaaaaaaveeeeee...http://surcic.blogspot.com/



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