Hollywood goes all Micah on us

I’m not a big fan of action movies, but last night I watched Iron Man and was very pleasantly surprised. Not only was it quite funny (not to mention the presence of Robert Downey Jr.), it actually had a message that’s pretty rare in Hollywood.

The main plot of the film revolved around the change of heart a director of a weapons company had when he saw the damage his creations did at first hand, and how his attempts to use his technology for good were ignored by his colleagues (the baddies). Ultimately, he created both a cyber-heart and the Iron Man, both of which were improvements on WMDs.

But how unusual is it for Hollywood to produce a movie that acts out Micah 4:3?

“And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war.”
[Note: I did actually have to look up the quote, my OT Prophets knowledge is not that hot!]

It got me thinking about one of the aspects of Irresistable Revolution that touched a chord with me. Shane (the author) went to Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams and saw the hurt his country (and ours) is causing the people there. He writes about America’s attitude towards the war, especially from within the church, and the associated patriotism. How every soldier’s death is commemorated, but not the plight of the Iraqis.

He writes:
“Originally, I thought that I went to Iraq for the Iraqi people and the kids in my neighbourhood. But as I have traveled, I have come to see that I also went to Iraq for our friends and family members in the military. Over and over, soldiers have come to me with tears in their eyes, pouring out their inner conflict as they feel thier spiritual and national allegiances collide.”
[p.220. You can read more of Shane’s experiences in Iraq here.]

It sometimes feels that within a society that reveres the actions of its armed forces, there’s no space for pacifism or even Just War Theory. A soldier is killed in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve and it’s the first item on the news – but what about the 1000s of civillians killed in conflict around the world every day?

There are many, many films that seem to glamorise war, and only a few that seem to challenge it. (Particularly Shooting Dogs for its depiction of UN Peacekeepers in Rwanda and to a certain extent, Jarhead for showing the impact the Gulf War had on troops.) But Iron Man, for all its action movie credentials, really goes for the ethics of war and weapons, pretty impressive really.

So that’s my rather profound response to 2 hours of mindless movie watching last night! Needless to say, the guys I watched it with didn’t quite get to that level when we talked about it. In fact, both seemed just to want their own Iron Man suit and pretended to fly around the room! Then the Oxford Physics Graduate guy started to explain exactly why most of it couldn’t actually have happened…therefore be glad that you’re reading my response to the film and not his!

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