Thursday, August 07, 2008

A call for more realism

Like Vicki and Rick, the Texans' comments about the Canadian authorities and passengers who intervened in the recent horrific bus incident as being "too civilized" got my wheels turning. Creak...

It's made me think about the overall tendency to use violence to sell books and movies. And unfortunately, the message that these works spread (Rambo, Terminator, certain thrillers, we can go on and on), is that "heroic" acts depend on some violent confrontation. This information is so false it would be laughable--if we stop to think about it.

See Rick's comments below about handguns held sideways. Next time you see or read one of these thrillers, take a moment to ask yourself whether the authors or directors consulted firearms, military, or political experts. Would people in authority act the way depicted on screen and would you want them to? (Vantage Point, which my family recently rented, comes to mind)

Where did so many get so far off the track of reality? How could anyone imagine that firing guns at a crazy murderer on a crowded bus could solve an already heinous (sadly, too late for Tim McClean)crime?

Why has physical confrontation been made to look more, well, heroic? This despite the fact that it's less apt to work. A few months ago in my home town of Honolulu, a place known for its friendly goodwill, a good Samaritan rushed to help a woman whose purse was being stolen. In the fracas, 58 year-old Ned Nakoa was hit in the head and later died of his injuries. The same month, Steven Wilcox, 19, was stabbed to death outside a bar in Kane'ohe trying to prevent a violent domestic dispute. In January, a 69-year-old man was knocked unconscious when he tried to intervene as a man on a residential street beat his estranged wife to death with the butt of a shotgun. These were brave people, trying to do the right thing. I hope I'd have their courage.

Perhaps it's time movies and thrillers stop crashing and bashing brainlessly and show examples of intervention that pay off. Can't we make intelligence as exciting as a gun or street fight? Some books and movies are pulling this off. Some actually parody the violence.

Another Honolulu story caught my eye just this morning. Theresa Harden, a 35- year-old real estate broker, saw a man force his way into a woman's car, hit her, and drive off with the woman still in the car. Harden followed in her own car and directed the police via cell phone until they arrived and intervened. The woman was rescued, the man arrested, and Harden's success made the local news.

If I'd been in Harden's place, my hands would have been shaking so badly I would have had trouble driving and talking on the phone. But she was the only one in the four incidences I've read about lately that pulled it off. The more confrontational attempts were, tragically, unsuccessful.

Just some thoughts, but I'm getting fed up with the sideways guns and the testosterone-hyped thrillers that influence certain people.

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