News & Politics

What Roadhouse Can Teach Us About North Korea

Of course North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs have been in the news for weeks now. I was looking back over the Arms Control Association’s Chronology of the North Korea nuclear programs.


It’s kind of depressing, consisting of firm actions taken against North Korean weapons programs, followed by diplomatic agreements that make “firm frameworks,” followed by the discovery that North Korea is violating the agreement, followed by North Korea withdrawing from that agreementm followed by wild threats (“March 15, 2001: Pyongyang threatens to ‘take thousand-fold revenge on the United States….”), followed by another diplomatic agreement. Rinse and repeat.

It was at that point that I remembered one of the under appreciated gems of American 20th-century cinema, the 1989 Rowdy Herrington movie Roadhouse.

In a memorable scene, Dalton (played by Patrick Swayze) explains his philosophy toward being a bouncer:

His philosophy (somewhat expurgated) is: Be nice. If someone is making a disturbance, be nice. If he is struggling, one of the other bouncers will help you; you will both walk him out, and you will both be nice. You will be nice, until it is time to not be nice.

From the looks of things, we’ve been nice for the last 25 years. Maybe it’s still time to be nice. But somehow, when a psychotic Bond villain with a marmot on his head is threatening atomic war on the U.S., maybe it’s time to take the rest of Dalton’s advice.

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