Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please ~Mark Twain


A Few Good Men - A Hollywood Classic

July 12, 2012

I reflect on the movie today because it was on yesterday evening, and, well, because it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.

But it's not a conclusion I would come to with my first view. Indeed, when I first saw the movie, I was just caught up on the drama, caught up on the story. And the story is pretty quite straightforward - two American marines are charged with the death of a fellow marine and Tom Cruise's character (Daniel Kaffee) is put to the task of defending them. And, so, the preoccupation for me, as a young viewer, would lie with Tom Cruise winning his case. The deeper research paper thematic points of the movie would only hit me later. And none so strongly than the famous "you can't handle the truth" Jack Nicholson speech:

Son, we live in a world that has walls and those teds woodworking review walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the Luxury Car Hire Milan luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to. ~Colonel Jessep

The first time I saw the movie, I'm sure I was probably thinking! His body language, his tone, his air of entitlement - an entitlement to say and do as he pleases because he is a Colonel - it's enough to make any sensible human being want to spit on him. In retrospect, I can't help but to appreciate the brilliance of his performance and the brilliance of the thecleaneatingmama speech. Well, it at least made me think really hard about our luxurious place in the West and the means by which it is exactly afforded to us. And it's not like I didn't know it before either - the movie just kind of hit me hard a few years ago when I was thinking about power dynamics in the workplace. The speech to be sure bears no parallels to the workplace dynamics that had me view the movie for the second time more intensely and more critically.

It just happened to be on tv. the same evening I was contemplating the politics that had consumed my workplace.

Its importance lies in helping me acknowledge the "ugly truth" about our comfortable lifestyle in the West that we too often take for granted, and too often fail to trace. And maybe just as well:

We really can't handle the truth!

I mean, who really has the time or the moral inclination to contemplate these matters at shopping malls, at birthday parties, at auto shows, and even at amusement parks? Maybe we all do, but thank goodness we don't have to as most of us don't really know what lies beneath.