Ron Rosenbaum

Contrary to The Hurt Locker Cereals Are Not Whats Wrong With America

I have conflicted feelings about The Hurt Locker. It’s brilliant in so many ways. And yet…is it brilliant as entertainment that exploits politics, or as politics that exploits entertainment or somehow, adeptly, both. What are it’s politics anyway?

You know the basic subject right? A squad of soldier in Iraq whose main duty is to defuse IEDs (Imrovised Explosive Devices) roadside bombs mainly designed to blow up U.S. soldiers (it’s set in 2004).. It’s insanely suspenseful, often gruesome film, and yet–this may be a virtue or a vice I’m not sure–it’s really hard to figure out what the political context is. Yes these are brave, even heroic sodiers, but why did we put them there, why are Iraquis trying to blow them up? Maybe the fact that the film doesn’t pretend to offer answers, just traces of answer that you can project your own politics onto is fascinating for its subtlety.

But then at the very end of the film [spoiler alert] it seems to abandon subtlety. It shows one of the bomb squad soldiers, shopping with his wife at a giant supermarket back home after his year of duty ends. It spends several minutes showing him paralyzed by the cereal aisles of the mega mart. Long floor-to-ceiling aisles of sugary oat crips and crunchy flakes of a million different varieties.

He stands there obviously reflecting on the carnage he’s come from and the paralyzing abundance he’s facing and you can’t help feeling the point is being made that here at last we’ve found the real enemy: American materialist abundance which we destroy nations to maintain. The cereals weren’t even organic! They were killer cereals. IEDs (Iniquitous eatin devices).

I don’t think so. I think the war was a tragedy whether you think it was justified or not and the depiction of the bloody carnage is enough to make that point. I;m sure there’s a lot of blame to go around, but you don’t have to blame “Honey Bunch of O’s”.

I’d be interestedin hearing from those hwo have seen it what they think about that scne, and about the whole movie. I urge those of you who haven’t yet to go. It’s the rare movie that allows you to think for yourself.