Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hände hoch!

Will I write a post about the German artist who is doing an installation featuring 1000's of garden gnomes giving the Hitlergrüß? No, it's just too easy. Go to and read about it yourself. I'm weary of all this "former times" stuff.

Instead, I watched a real American movie this weekend and want to comment on that. It was a movie from the 90's, a relatively innocent time in America, and starred a bunch of people who haven't done many films since then, but it also featured Charlie Sheen in a starring role. It was called something like, Navy Sea Lions and was all about the dedication of a select group of guys who work hard, recreate hard and smoke terrorists when they're not busy playing hilarious pranks on one another. The film begins with a wedding: one of the Navy Sea Otters is planning to marry. He feels guilty that he's abandoning the team, even if only in spirit, but his commanding officer tells him that commitment is the highest goal. Two things are made clear by this opener. One, this character will be the "sensitive one." Two, he'll die in reel three.

There was a lot not to like in the movie, but it was oddly satisfying as well. Watching the Navy Walruses on R&R for example was a real embarrassment. Driving wildly in golf carts, beating up innocent citizens, littering: these guys have a carbon footprint as big as all outdoors. But when stirring music plays as they all leap from an airplane somewhere over the eastern Mediterranean, it's enough to make even William Penn find some minor mid-east nation and liberate stuffing out of it.

It's a paradox to me that today people seem to fret constantly about violence on television and in film. And God help anyone who would buy his or her child a toy gun. When I was a kid, I never left the house without being properly armed and our "toybox" was a former military footlocker, chock full of paraphernalia my dad brought home from WWII. What kid in 1962 didn't have a combat helmet? I had several and received in addition, a full Zorro outfit complete with cape and Zorro shotgun for Christmas one year. Zorro never used a gun of any kind, but I never let that dampen my enthusiasm and chanted "The fox so cunning and free!" as I carved a large "Z" in our family's bathroom door.

The thing is, we were comfortable with violence, but knew that in a situation in which our lives were threatened, we would only need to shoot the gun out of the other guy's hand. On one favorite TV show of the day, Seahunt, Lloyd Bridges never fought with a gun, since all encounters had to take place underwater. It wasn't possible to shoot guns out of hands on that program, but it was understood that the knives one brandished in the underwater fight scenes could only be used to cut air hoses. There was the obligatory "underwater struggle for the knife" scene in Navy Manatees too, but the Charlie Sheen character uses the knife to cut his assailant's throat. I thought these guys were supposed to be trained in underwater combat?

There seems to be a cycle of ever increasing violence in America today and it's affecting Germany as well. It seems hardly a month goes by that I don't hear a story about some nitwit shooting as many people as he can in a public space. The death counts are lower in Germany, where the perpetrators are denied automatic weapons, but I read recently about one dedicated would-be mass murderer there who went at it with a knife. So I was relieved and gratified when I visited a local store yesterday to pick up a new pair of work pants and saw the sign pictured below. It may lead to a boycott of the store by people who see it as a violation of their Second Amendment rights, but I for one think it's time we draw a line in the sand on this issue.


Charlie H said...

Aha! That explains all the spent shells I find in CAL Ranch's parking lot!

Christopher T. Terry said...

Indeed, and those impatient types waiting in line, in a hurry to get back to a warm gun. ct