Shortcuts Ampersand Delusions: To War, To War!
It has been a hell of a long goddamn time since we’ve had an outstanding satire, spoof, or parody (to say nothing of farce) of war, though there is certainly no shortage of contemporary material ripe for picking. I’m sure there have been many written and produced in the past 34 years since M*A*S*H‘s finale, but they won’t be able to hold a candle (flamethrower?) to the aforementioned TV series and its progenitor film (the novel is just OK); the movie and novel Catch-22; the novels Gravity’s Rainbow, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Good Soldier Švejk; or the Marx Brothers’ classic film Duck Soup.
Lamenting the lack of any recent well-written and -produced war satires should be a good problem to have, as that should mean that there haven’t been any wars that demand intellectual ridicule (any friend you, dear readers, may have that tells you satire is nothing more than mockery is no friend at all). But, as we all know, there is almost always a war going on somewhere, and unfortunately, the media (whether it be mainstream, alternative, or fringe) has its own agenda as to what stories to report, so there are times when military actions and/or the offensive and abhorrent actions of tyrants around the world may not enjoy prominent places in the 24 hour news cycle.
Some of this is the function of the passage of time; fittingly, as Alan Alda from M*A*S*H says in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors, you can’t use humor to exploit something horrific until some time has gone by. What this amounts to is, for the sake of decency, I shouldn’t email my former grad school advisor thesis at 3am with the subject line, “DONALD TRUMP BOMBING ASSAD AND ISIS IS A DIRECT PARALLEL TO CATCH-22‘S COLONEL CATHCART!!!!1″ nor should I advocate military action with North Korea to make a reboot of M*A*S*H seem timely and necessary (maybe Hawkeye is the chief administrator of a Doctors Without Borders hospital and through a set of unfortunate circumstances must accept casualties from a reignited Korean War?), and under absolutely no circumstances would I ever suggest that Chechnyan concentration camps for homosexuals means the time is right for a new version of Hogan’s Heroes.
The cinematic worlds of television and movies thrive on reboots, remakes, sequels and prequels, but due to the concept of “comedy=tragedy+time” we can’t employ satire in its proper capacity, which is to use humor to get audiences to consider ideas they hadn’t previously been exposed to and/or given credence to. Humor can be a powerful tool to compel an individual to reconsider concepts he always considered sacrosanct. By satirizing war and tyrannical despots, hawks can learn that war is not always the best option, and doves can learn that war is a viable option that should not always be taken off the table. If they had any sense, after watching Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, neo-cons would question the motivations of heads of state and military leaders; if tyrant-coddling liberals and anti-war virtue signaling libertarians had any sense, after watching Team America: World Police and The Great Dictator they’d question the assumption that America should never intervene militarily in overseas conflicts, and that America foreign policy is always to blame when innocents are killed or displaced from their homes.
Ever since 9/11, it seems America is always dipping various toes into the pool of war, yet there always remains a reticence to fully jump in. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want us to be involved in war, since I’m a decent human being (as far as you know), but whenever America grazes her toes against the surface of the pool, some shitbird piranha comes along and bites one of our piggies, so then we have to respond.
Like it or not, America is the example set for the rest of the world when it comes to civil liberties and the protections of life, liberty, and property. I wrote “The Libertarian Case for Invading Cuba” a little over a year ago, and I stand by my premise that America and her Western, capitalist, pro-freedom allies, have an obligation to use military force to remove Cuba’s Communist Party and Revolutionary Armed Forces from power; I also think that moral commitment applies to North Korea and Syria. As you read this, some of you out there are no doubt frothing at the mouth while typing your moral high horse comments about how all military actions are violations of the NAP, and American foreign policy is evil and makes everything worse.
Libertarians, answer this: if America was isolationist, would national/socialist and/or theocratic totalitarian regimes, and violent religious extremists, seeking global hegemony still exist? If you answer no, I have a bridge in Pianosa to sell you. Get some history books and learn some education.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
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