I received an email from a student asking my thoughts on two anti-war movies: Lions for Lambs and the Green Zone; I responded by telling him that I would re-post a piece I once drafted on Lions for Lambs; I think this post pretty much sums up my thoughts on America’s false “sense” of injecting democracy into regions too complex for an American system.
In Lions for Lambs, a movie many conservative pundits call anti-American and typical liberal Hollywood propaganda, links the complexities of class and status to democracy, and addresses an ill fought war on terrorism. I am sure many of you who know me will not be surprised to hear how much I enjoyed this movie. Stephen Malley (played by Robert Redford), a political science instructor at a public research university in California, is portrayed as a liberal idealist who, much like myself, supports the American troops fighting but not the war. For one, it portrays liberal academics as compassionate leftist who are guarding the minds of the young from right-wing political elitist looking to inculcate democratic injustices on the American people.
The most telling part of the movie comes when Redford’s character Malley is visiting with a privilege white upper-class student who has made little of his middle-class privileges. This student who contends that nothing ever changes and politicians are all the same, plays a pejorative role as a bright but spoiled frat boy who is too busy with his social life to care about political, social, and economic matters; it might be an age thing; I deal with a great deal of political, social, and global apathy on my campus from a few, but not all.
In an indirect way, this film does more than address the paradoxical nature of democracy; it touches on matters of race and class. Below is a clip from the movie in which two of Malley’s students are giving a class presentation on the topic of diplomacy and engagement. They address the farce of democracy as it relates to the urban problem of crime and ghettoization. Arian Finch and Michael Pena (Malley’s students) address how much money is being spent engaging in global wars but how little the American government is addressing the problem of social inequalities and education.