Friday, January 30, 2009

Kill'em All

"We can kill everybody!"

So says one of the heroes in the charming movie Boondock Saints, which I so wanted to blame on George W., because WTF is not his fault?  And this movie ought to be his fault.  It should, it should.


I had to watch it, b/c one of my students is doing an IS with me (Independent Study, for y'all not in the trade) on Villains in Popular Culture -- I won't go into tons of details, but among the works she's looking at are this movie, along with an utterly appalling TV series, of which I had been happily ignorant until she brought it to my attention, called Dexter, and that other appalling series, 24.

Sorry.  I had to go take a Xanax after writing that paragraph.  Do you have any idea what's been happening to our culture over the past ten years?  Do have any notion what the fucking Right has done to us?  Go watch 24 and Dexter and Boondock Saints.  I double-dog dare you.

Grr.  Where was I?

Boondock Saints.

These twin brothers have this vision from God --

Well, let's not start there.

Let's start with the opening, where these charming good-looking twin brothers who work in a meat-packing plant, fun-loving, hard-drinking boys, get assigned to train this evil woman -- you can tell she's evil because (a) she's a woman and (b) when our good brother is attempting to explain something to her and ever so harmlessly uses the phrase "rule of thumb" she goes off on a feminist rant about how rule of thumb referred to men being allowed to beat their wives with sticks no bigger than their thumbs and then (c) when our good, handsome brother makes a joke about how that stick obviously wouldn't be big enough, it oughta have been called rule o'wrist, hee hee, she gets all miffed (feminists have no sense of humor) and kicks him, you know, there (feminists don't fight fair).

Also, did I mention she was fat and ugly?  Feminists are fat and ugly.

Jump-cut to a bar, where good and handsome and charming brothers are enjoying a well-earned beer after having been fired for slugging the bitch feminist, even though she started the fight, and the wink they give the good woman (the only good woman in the entire movie, may I add), who has just fetched them a beer.  Yay for good women!

So sad, they've lost their job.  They not worried though!  Who cares about jobs!  Not like they've got some bitch at home to nag them, after all.  No fools these guys!

Don't you worry, either!  Soon, through some weird plot twist that doesn't make a deal of sense, they tangle with the Russian mafia, accidently kill a couple of evil Russian immigrants (bad ones!  Evil Russian mobster immigrants!  But all immigrants in this movie are evil, wicked criminal types, so don't get confused) and hey presto give themselves up to William Dafoe, who is a gay homophobic police, who can solve crimes just by wandering around the crime scene looking mystic.

And he likes vigilantes.  Why?  You got me.  Because even though he can solve crimes by wandering around the crime scene etc he hates police? (He does hate police, though we're never told why. He hates everyone, though.)  Because the judges won't convict the criminals when he brings them to court?  Because liberals and the ACLU have rendered justice in America useless?  I'm guessing this here last, but the movie never says.

Then the Irish handsome brothers, who, it turns out, speak a gazillion different languages (Why?  Mama wanted them to.  Why?  You got me.) have a vision from God, who speaks from a leaky roof.  (What?  Don't ask me.)  The vision says they should kill people.  God wants them to kill people.

Don't worry.  Just bad people.

How will they know these are bad people?

They'll know.

Well, okay, then.

So they kill bad people.  They become heroes.  Because everyone Likes Killing Bad People in America.

Then their Daddy finds them.  Turns out he Kills Bad People too!  It's a family trade!

Movie ends with them breaking into a courtroom, where an Evil Italian Immigrant is about to be released, despite all the Mountains of Evidence against him, and shooting him down in front of everyone.

Heroes!  American Heroes!

Here's the speech they make just before they shoot the Evil Italian: 

"We do not ask for your poor or your hungry.  We do not ask for your tired and is your evil that will be sought by us.  With every breath we will hunt them down.  Each day we will spill their blood til it rains down from the sky.  Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal; these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace...those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.  We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into our domain."

The narrative, clearly, approves of these two, of their actions; you can see that Duffy, who makes the film, tries to give himself some wiggle room, with the bit at the end where he goes about asking "audience" members what they think, and the bit at the start with its snotty reference to Kitty Genovese; but, as with 24 and Dexter, the narrative is careful to make the people being slaughtered and tortured so evil that, obviously, the audience is meant to approve of the actions of the killers/torturers in these texts.

To say this is disturbing is to understate matters.

We'll leave the utter misogyny of the text for some later date -- though it's interesting, I'll just add, how contempt for rule of law and misogyny so often do go together.


Anonymous said...

It is truly amazing how much hate-speech has infiltrated the US culture. Your well written posting about it gave me the gut-cramps.

Bardiac said...

Every semester, when I do a movie thing in one class, I have at least one male student who LOVES this movie and thinks it's the bestest thing ever.

It's scary as all get out, and I haven't even seen it.

zelda1 said...

I hate how the arts imitates life

violet said...

I saw this a few years ago and, embarrassingly, I recall rather enjoying it. At the time, it seemed like as a ridiculous send-up of the notion that “kill 'em all” could be either a reasonable or effective strategy.

My take on it might be a little different now.

delagar said...

Violet -- maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I don't think Duffy is kidding. If you read his webpages, he seems pretty serious in his attitude toward the movie's message. Sure, he says, oh, no one would really do this -- but he doesn't say, only a total tool would WANT to do this. His attitude seems to be we all want to react this way, and who can blame us, and we should want to react this way: too bad we're all too constrained by civilization, huh?