Armageddon

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bruce Willis IS America (Pre-9/11, now it's Kiefer Sutherland)

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armageddon.

Despite the laugh­able fact that this movie is in­clud­ed in the Criterion Collection; and the al­most cer­tain fi­nan­cial & busi­ness-tac­ti­cal rea­sons for its in­clu­sion, I’m go­ing to try to re­view this film in good faith. This Michael Bay block­buster came out in 1998, and that’s im­por­tant, be­cause I can’t imag­ine a film like this be­ing made at all post-​9/​11. Yeah, I went there. The film is a self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry pro­jec­tion of America at the height of its pride, but be­fore it had got­ten­th to the fall; an America that fan­cied it­self so in­vin­ci­ble that it could kick a Texas-sized asteroid’s ass in 18 days. An America with no prob­lems. This is a movie made in an America that had for­got­ten what it is like to be hum­bled. (And if you think it’s just co­in­ci­dence that the as­ter­oid is “Texas-sized”, you’re an id­iot).

Despite the not-so-laugh­able fact that the en­tire world is threat­ened by the as­ter­oid, the on­ly ones who can save the day are Americans. Americans who are ar­ro­gant dicks. (Redundant, I know.) America is the the­me of this movie, not cos­mic an­ni­hi­la­tion. Most no­tice­ably, there are flags draped every­where, they are like sa­cred ta­pes­tries, and near­ly every scene is con­struct­ed to hon­or or pro­mote American-ness in some way. Plus, Bruce Willis; prob­a­bly the most stereo­typ­i­cal­ly “American” ac­tion hero. There’s noth­ing orig­i­nal here, the film is ba­si­cal­ly a HGH ver­sion of the played-out “can we dis­arm the bomb in time?” trope.

Armageddon might be the most quin­tes­sen­tial­ly American movie of the post-WWII era. Its ge­nius is that of an id­iot sa­vant, but be­cause this movie lacks any­thing ap­proach­ing self-aware­ness, the glo­ry of its bravado & ob­vi­ous tack­i­ness cap­ture what it means to be American in the purest of terms. Michael Bay set out to make a block­buster about America’s big balls and suc­ceed­ed, but in his quest to present us with two hours of sub­con­scious mas­tur­ba­to­ry zeit­geist-stroking (there­by turn­ing us in­to lab rats who don’t even have to hit the crack but­ton) he man­aged to re­move any­thing vague­ly ap­proach­ing a com­pelling nar­ra­tive.  The movie is pablum; there is no there there, and that is the on­ly rea­son it is pos­si­ble to make the grandiose claims I’m mak­ing about this film. If you are a thought­ful per­son, let­ting the tits, ex­plo­sions, & smart-mouthed di­a­logue flow through you is like sit­ting zazen and pen­e­trat­ing through the im­pen­e­tra­ble mu of the American psy­che through the force of sheer baf­fle­ment. You will grasp for any sort of mean­ing and come up emp­ty, and at the ut­ter­most depth of your de­spair, when you sur­ren­der to the id­io­cy; en­light­en­ment. This film is the ar­che­type.

Blog Birthday

Saturday, 1 February 2003

my weblog is one year old to­day. and i was 2 – 1 fenc­ing to­day.

But more im­por­tant­ly, the Space Shuttle Columbia dis­in­te­grat­ed on reen­try to­day. For no good rea­son, i have a strong emo­tion­al at­tach­ment to the space pro­gram and NASA. i didn’t hear about this un­til long af­ter it hap­pened. i hate it. when i was 5 back in 1986 i was watch­ing the TV when Challenger went up in smoke. and al­ready at that young age i had great ad­mi­ra­tion for the ex­plor­ers of space. and my mom was a teacher, and Christa MacAuliffe was a teacher. the Challenger be­came the first event that scarred my­self, not to men­tion America as a whole.

then the World Trade Center Towers fell over. Scar num­ber 2.The Doppler radar of Columbia’s de­bris trail on reen­try.

and now an­oth­er space tragedy. Scar num­ber 3. how some­thing so small can cause some­thing so de­struc­tive just makes the event all the more painful. ahh, you few brave as­tro­nauts, sail­ing in the heav­ens. god shel­ter you. sail in the heav­ens and pro­tect your fel­low space cru­saders. the on­ly way i can talk about this is to wax ro­man­tic. this pic­ture in par­tic­u­lar is rather haunt­ing. that streak.

it can’t all be hor­ri­ble though can it? why are there al­ways scars, but so few mo­ments of pure world­wide joy. the clos­est i can think of is the Fall of the Berlin Wall. what a great thing that was. prob­a­bly the on­ly way we’ll know the world is get­ting bet­ter is when the uni­ver­sal goods start out­num­ber the tragedies.