Wow. It feels like forever since I’ve said anything remotely controversial on this blog.
And so, at the risk of offending those people who foolishly disagree with my opinion, here are my thoughts on some recent controversies in the news…
THE CAPTAIN PHILLIPS CONTROVERSY
A movie called Captain Phillips opens on October 11th. It’s a dramatization of the true-life hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks plays the role of Captain Phillips, a man who – if Hollywood is to be believed – showed great bravery in the face of danger and was responsible for saving the lives of his crew. EXCEPT…according to the crew members of the MV Maersk Alabama, the movie is complete and utter bullshit. They claim that rather than being the hero portrayed in the movie, Captain Phillips was directly responsible for their being hijacked in the first place:
According to them “Phillips captained his ship against more than seven maritime warnings and his own men’s pleas, sailing deep into waters notorious for pirate attack.” According to their lawyer: “It is galling for them to see Captain Phillips being set up as a hero. It is just horrendous and they’re angry.” And here’s the thing. We’re just hearing about this now thanks to the movie. The eleven crew members launched their lawsuit back in 2009.
Granted, nothing has been proven. On the one hand, the crew may be right and Captain Phillips intentionally put their lives in danger, bearing significant responsibility for what happened to them. On the other hand, it could simply be a case of massive ineptitude on the part of Captain Phillips who, despite warnings to keep 600 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, mistakenly sailed within 250 nautical miles of the coast. Whichever the case, it’s pretty clear that this movie offers a little more than a “dramatization of events”.
I’ll be giving this movie a pass.
THE BULLY BIKERS CONTROVERY
A couple and their two year old child have their range rover swarmed by a bunch of bikers in downtown Manhattan. The driver is pulled out of the car and beaten in front of his family. But wait! The bikers claim there was a good reason they were beating the guy up. The driver was apparently “driving like a maniac”. He ran over one of their friends and they were merely giving chase after the fact.
Well…yes and no as a video of the incident reveals…
What the video shows is a bunch of bikers passing a range rover on the highway. Suddenly, one of the bikers cuts in front of the range rover and brake checks him, coming to a FULL STOP. The range rover slows down and comes to a stop, but not before nudging the motorcycle. As a result, all of the bikers stop, blocking in the range rover, and proceed to vandalize the vehicle. No doubt fearing for his safety and that of his family, the driver did what I suspect most people in his position would have done: he floored it, hitting and injuring a biker who was blocking him in.
Eventually, the bikers catch up with him in traffic, smash in his window, drag him from his range rover, and beat him.
In an interview on CNN, one of the bikers claimed THEY were the innocent victims. Also, the media was incorrect in characterizing them as a “gang”. When the interviewer asked him how HE would describe the group, the biker replied: “Family.” Well, as it so happened, the police were hoping to identify some of those family members from the above footage. Did HE recognize any of those meting out the beat? Alas, no. I suppose those two would be the familial equivalent of very distant cousins.
It’s tragic that people got hurt, but even more tragic that bikers assume they own the roads (and, in some instances, the sidewalks), free to intimidate drivers and pedestrians alike. I have no idea how this is going to play out, but judging from the online comments, the court of public opinion has come down squarely against these bullies on bikes.
THE U.S. INTERVENTION CONTROVERSY
Two recent American raids on terrorist targets in Libya and Somalia have engendered some controversy given that these operations took place on the soil of purported “friends” of the West.
What business does the U.S. have mounting these ops without permission of the local governments? Well, to that I would answer: “If you can’t clean your own house, someone far more capable is going to do it for you.” I’m reminded of Pakistan, our “ally in the war on terror”, that would constantly complain about American ops straying into their country. Bin Laden was hiding out in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, after all. How dare the U.S. impugn their sovereignty by…uh. Oh. Bin Laden was actually IN PAKISTAN when they found him? My, how embarrassing, no?
Well, no. Despite the fact that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living right under their noses, the Pakistan government were positively indignant that
they were made to look like fools such an operation would take place on their soil without permission. Presumably, they would have gotten him. Eventually.
My advice to countries seeking to avoid similar injury to their national pride: CLEAN YOUR OWN DAMN HOUSE!
THE CAPTIOL HILL SHOOTING CONTROVERSY
Another tragedy the other day, this one in the nation’s capitol, when a young mother with mental issues was gunned down after leading police on a high-speed car chase. People are now questioning whether the police used excessive force in dealing with the situation. The woman was, after all, unarmed. She didn’t have a weapon. Unless, of course, one counts the 1.2 ton vehicle she was racing through the streets of D.C….
It’s very sad this woman lost her life. That being said, I think it’s all too easy to reconsider options long after the fact. If you check out the video, you’ll see that, at one point, the vehicle is surrounded. The driver is instructed to get out of the car. Instead, she peals out in reverse, narrowly missing some of the officers, and drives off. Were there alternate ways the police could have defused the situation? Maybe if they’d let her go and mailed her a bill for the damages? Waited for her to run out of gas? Certainly the video shows that reasoning with her was out of the question.
In the end, questioning these officers in hindsight is easy. Dealing with an unknown entity with your life on the life isn’t.
To those of you asking about our Supermovie of the Week Club – okay, to gforce who asks – I’ve decided to give our long-suffering film critic a much-needed vacation. He’ll be back to review Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2, and Thor: The Dark World before giving of his list of The Tp 10 Superhero Movies of All Time.