This week, I’ve delved into the True Meaning of Rambo in preparation for his (brief) return from irrelevance. Today, I’ll close the series out with a quick look at two great characters Mr. Stallone originated — one has his own statue, and the other languished in condemnation for 20 years. We celebrate the one who feeds us dreams, and we condemn the one who shows us ourselves.
We are obsessed with struggle. We insist on our belief that we win even when we lose. We love watching people take beatings and assume they won’t be permanently damaged by them. America has a Rocky culture.
But we have more than our share of emotional scars. We do a whole lot of shooting random guys in the woods — with flaming arrows, natch. Our individual actions are crude, passionate and aspire to heroism. Our institutions are polite, impersonal and abandon us at every turn.
We end up doing damage to anything or anybody we try to save. We are self-destructive in the long-term and pursue short-term self-destruction as a form of revenge against ourselves and each other. We wear totally awesome headbands. Americans are a Rambo people.
Rocky is about catching up — the chance we all have to achieve our dreams through hard work and perseverance. This is what we dream.
Rambo is about being left behind — the chance we all have to be beloved one moment and found inconvenient and discarded to face our rage alone the next. This is what we do.
As final proof of how much we aspire to Rocky and how deeply we deny our Rambo nature, I’ll leave you with this.
Sylvester Stallone endorses a man for President who has been a prisoner of war in Vietnam and has come back to fight the establishment that abandoned its soldiers overseas and to restore guts and machismo to the White House, and the character they mention is Rocky?
That is a bold breed of willful blindness. Haven’t these people seen any movies?