Successful films fulfill our deep yearnings, whether in porn or action adventure blockbusters. Today we look at those showing — in Hollywood’s exaggerated fashion — our desire for a strong Leader. We might not get the action-adventure hero of these three movies (e.g., another Andrew Jackson or Teddy Roosevelt); we will eventually get a strong, capable, power-hungry leader. With our Republic’s machinery in decay, the public apathetic and weak, what will prevent him or her from taking our reins?
So let’s enjoy these films. Our future Leader might be less entertaining.
“People need stories, more than bread, itself. They teach us how to live, and why.”
— From the film “Arabian Nights” (2000).
Independence Day (1996)
President Whitmore in his F-16 leads the attack against the alien ship
Air Force One (1997)
President Marshall singlehandedly kicks terrorists’ butts.
White House Down (2013)
President Sawyer helps a cop kick terrorists’ butts.
Super President (1967)
As children the Boomers learned to idealize Presidents.
Update about ObamaRambo from the comments
Two articles from The Duffel Blog: “The American Military’s Most Trusted News Source
President Obama Visits Afghanistan, Shoots Three Taliban Fighters, 3 May 2012 — Opening:
The White House Press Office announced today that President Obama will soon be inducted into the Special Forces Association and receive an honorary Green Beret. … The honorary beret comes in recognition of the President’s decisive role in covert operations throughout the world during his term — including the killing of Osama bin Laden last year in Pakistan, and his combat action in Afghanistan months ago.
During a late afternoon briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded questions, including one about the possibility of the President also receiving a Navy SEAL trident. “The President has in fact already received his Trident from the SEAL community,” said Carney. “He was honored to accept the insignia during a private ceremony in California, a week after his gutsy call where he singlehandedly took out bin Laden.”
President Obama To Receive Honorary Green Beret, Induction Into Special Forces Association, 30 August 2012 — Opening:
Today the American people are recovering from the shocking news that President Barack Obama came under enemy fire earlier this week in Afghanistan. While visiting with soldiers and key leaders there, the President came under attack from insurgents, cutting him off from delivering his speech. We must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly,” he said to a crowd of soldiers at FOB Salerno, near the city of Khost.
At that moment the base began taking mortar fire from a group of insurgents firing from some nearby hills. As Obama’s Secret Service detail threw him to the ground for protection, Specialist Hector Peterson ran over and handed him his M9 pistol, saying, “Here you go sir, you’ll need this.”
Obama then raced through the Entry Control Point with the Quick Reaction Force before anyone could stop him. Covering the 4 kilometers between FOB Salerno and the insurgents’ positions in just fifteen minutes, Obama and his men came under heavy fire from an enemy machine gun team positioned to ambush them. Obama then rallied the small squad of soldiers and encouraged them to fight by yelling, “Let’s give their mothers something to cry about!”
“He just opened up on them until his magazine was empty,” said Corporal Cyril Abrams, “then calmly reloaded and kept firing. When I tried to take cover, he grabbed me by the helmet and yelled, ‘What? Are you trying to live forever?’ and dragged me back in the assault.” Reaching the enemy mortar position, Obama killed two insurgents, then turned to face a third who had dropped his weapon and was raising his hands. “I don’t speak your ‘yabba-dabba-doo’,” Obama shouted, as he coldly shot him in the face.
At one point, after his pistol jammed, Obama surprised the troops by grabbing an AK-47 off one of the bodies and continued to put rounds downrange. “Guys, I spent part of my childhood in Indonesia,” he said while effortlessly conducting immediate action on the weapon, “It’s just like riding a bicycle.”
After killing the three Taliban, Obama then posed for a group photo with the soldiers while urinating on the corpses. “Go ahead,” he said with a smile, “try and bust me down.”
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For More Information
- A philosophical basis for the Batman saga, 23 July 2008
- Sources of inspiration for America’s renewal, 23 April 2009 – The Law of Equivalent Exchange
- The problem with America lies in our choice of heroes, 12 November 2010
- Robocop is not a good role model for the youth of Detroit, 12 March 2011
- We want heroes, not leaders. When that changes it will become possible to reform America., 11 January 2013
- Our choice of heroes reveals much about America, 2 June 2013
10 thoughts on “Hollywood’s dream machine gives us the Leader we yearn for”
President Obama Visits Afghanistan, Shoots Three Taliban Fighters, 3 May 2012
President Obama To Receive Honorary Green Beret, Induction Into Special Forces Association, 30 August 2012
News like this deserves attention. I feel better already. I’ve added this as an update to the post.
I always thought “First Family” (1980), with Bob Newhart, explained it all… (Wikipedia)
I especially resonated with the concept of a President dreaming of eating soup. This may have been the script for President W.
This country has become so deluded that we can no longer distinguish fantasy from reality.
I am not sure that I can enjoy this post. We all share the output from the Hollywood’s dream machine, however the values one is brought up with can withstand the created images. The story in a film mostly define the good and the bad.
Real life is different. There you have to judge for yourself. We all long for a just world. If fear get you to spy on your friends, who do you trust? If you are not backing up these, who question the paranoia, you will leave the harbor of free nations. I can only say it is time to consider, who the enemy of the truth is. If you do not get that right, you loose your moral right to be the leader of the free world. Anybody who dream up a clear picture of an enemy, looses the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. “Them and us” thinking is poison for democracy.
I hope the that the American people wakes up and starts to recognize that a change is required. Not everybody outside the American borders are enemies. If you would give it a try, you might even notice that you have more friends than enemies. However you can also scare friends away through unconsidered behavior.
Don’t be too hard on Hollywood. Although they do teach, to a much larger extent they reflect who we are — our vales and desires.
Don’t berate the mirror for the image it shows. That is its function, from which we can learn.
I saw the movie yesterday, thought it was good fun.
I laughed out loud at the scene on the White House lawn.
all these great clips and you’re missing the best one: from Air Force One – “Get Off My Plane ”
FM is on the mark.
Hollywood has done well by the Prez with a couple of clever satire’s like Dr. Strangelove and Being There. But, in the main, the films FM disses are really meaningless cartoons. Like many films today, they are removed from reality and aimed at a twelve year old’s grasp of social problems and policy, which is to say no social problems and no policy.
The idea of the leader as “action hero” is discussed in Jose Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses. It is an approach based on not knowing what’s going on, much like a mechanic who doesn’t know the problems in the engine, so he starts hitting it with a hammer in hopes of jarring the engine into working.
There is a link here between the unknowing hammer wielder and the movies FM mentions. Both approaches rely on quick decisive action to set the world right, while the real world problems genuine adults want to tackle require in-depth analysis, debate, serious planning, political acumen and adjusting in mid-stream–all over time, not through immediate decisiveness.
But more to the point, as FM remarks, the real world problems require an engaged citizenry acting together, sharing sacrifice, and cooperating for the long term to produce real change. A superhero zipping in to fix the world is a pretty dream, but that’s not how the Erie canal was built, nor the transcontinental railroad, nor the American public school system, nor the nationwide superhighway system, nor America’s telephone network. Captain America did not singlehandedly dig the New York subway system; Superman did not defeat the Nazis in Europe all by himself. No individual can do these things. We must all act together, and the failure of the American people to act lies at the heart of this infantile obsession with superheroes who will save us.
Much easier to rely on some masked avenger than to stand on a picket line. Much simpler to cast a vote for an empty slogan like “HOPE AND CHANGE” and then when change doesn’t come, just shrug and tell yourself, “Well, I did my part,” instead of getting out in the street and shutting down congress with protests.