To The Editors
This letter is in reply to Jeff Chase's review of Rocky V in the Friday, December 6 edition of The Crimson. Neither his use of the word Gesamtkunstwerk (which I did not understand) nor his characterization of the theater-goers who reacted hostilely to the Russian boxer Drago as "alleged human beings" is what particularly upsets me. What I do find disconcerting is his political mindset, particularly his characterization of the nation's current political mood as "reasonless xenophobia." This mindset sees improper jingoism in such movies as Rocky IV and Rambo. It views them as irrational, or at best incredibly simplistic. These movies present a fairy-land world of American virtue versus totalitarian evil; and since the world really is not anything like this, these movies are "shameless propaganda." Worse yet, the electorate might really start to believe this stuff and vote for a president who will lead us into war. And, as everyone who is clear-thinking knows, America's wars are usually immoral.
When I hear such views expressed I usually ask myself why certain people are so enraged over these latest patriotic movies and not upset over so many other similar films in our past. For decades after World War II Hollywood produced scores of movies in which America's war against Fascism was presented as a struggle between good and evil. The loss of German and Japanese life in them is in many cases greater than the loss of Russian and Vietnamese life in Rambo. Yet I've never heard anyone react with moral indignation against these simplistic portrayals of what was the most humanly costly war ever known to man. Even rarer is the person who would view them as dangerous.
The last decade has seen Hollywood produce a string of movies with highly charged political messages concerning the morality of America's foreign policy values and wars. Coming Home and Apocalypse Now are two examples. These movies also have a simplistic and unyielding world view: that America's anti-communist ideology is intellectually immature and therefore our wars against communism are immoral crimes against humanity. Yet I have never heard anyone describe such militarily isolationist views as "reasonless xenophobia." It seems that the same people who so detest Sylvester Stallone's simplistic analysis of the world especially approve of these movies. If the film simplistically denigrates and villifies American values and actions, it is proper and laudable. If it simplistically glorifies American values and institutions, then it is reprehensible and deserves intellectual castigation. How happy I would be to hear Harvard students (even once) denigrate Sydney Schanberg's intellectually childish and morally perverse opinions that he expressed so forcefully in The Killing Fields. His distorted presentation of the facts of the U.S.'s intervention in Cambodia to prevent a Khmer Rouge victory deserves far more castigation than anything contained in either Rambo or Rocky IV. Yet the clear-cut double standards of an influential portion of the American public opinion prevent such consistent and correct analysis. David Rivera '86