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November 19, 2011   4 notes

Machine Gun Preacher

Gerard Butler is in a new film called Machine Gun Preacher. It’s like Erin Brockovich goes to Sudan. And, like Erin Brockovich, it’s based on a true story. Here, a biker who’s life is going off the rails decides he needs a life change so goes to help out in Sudan and gets more embroiled in the struggles there than he envisioned.

Ultimately I applaud this kinda movie - its an amazing story, and any movie about someone trying to genuinely help out in a developing country is ultimately a great thing. It’s a shame however, that if we ever have a mainstream movie, it has to have a white American as its centre and hero (which is a problem in several ways: one being that this imagery overwhelmingly of Americans in developing countries just there to do good distorts and takes attention away from the reality that a bunch of times white people are just there to exploit. It reminds me of a problem with Aboriginal communities here in Australia, where some white people that are attracted to live in these communities to ‘help’ are irresponsible losers who only move to a problem-ridden black community to take a leadership role to feel like king shit because of their whiteness - when they would totally not be trusted to be in a leadership role anywhere else).

To counter that, though, I think it is quite effective - if you want the audience to go with you on this journey, you have to have a character that they identify with. As he discovers exactly what’s going on there, we discover it too, it makes a lot of sense story-crafting-wise. The reality is we are more inclined to relate and sympathise with his reactions of disgust and outrage more than with their survival day-to-day with these horrors (which, most of us from a First World audience have no frame of reference for). Hopefully, however, by sympathising and connecting with his story we connect (or at least learn about) their story. It’s like compassion once removed.

I’ve always found fascinating that this is kind of like how great paintings of Jesus during the Renaissance where treated. They made sure to humanise Jesus, and images of Him on the cross where made to show just how painful and agonising His sacrifice for us was. So, this man was suffering for all of us, so relating to and being moved by His suffering was a way of relating to and being moved by all humanity’s suffering. Again, compassion once removed. Now’s a good point to tell you that I am not a theologian. All of that could have just been bullshit.

Whatever, see the movie! Check out the trailer here! It’s Erin Brockovich in Sudan!

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