Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'm Confused

OK, one of the common themes in reviews of The Village was that it was some sort of political allegory, right? That this village, closing itself off from the rest of the world with vague stories of threats beyond its borders, presumably stood for post-9/11 America.

Now, in the Onion’s review of a Swedish movie called Daybreak, they say this:
In one [of the interweaving stories in the film], an overworked bricklayer with little time for his family agrees to work for an eccentric, wealthy older couple so terrified of the outside world that they ask him to brick up their windows and doors, essentially turning their apartment into a crypt. It doesn't seem at all coincidental that the eccentric husband—who is so terrified of the outside world that he'd rather commit himself and his wife to a slow, drawn-out suicide than engage it on any level—not only expresses admiration for the U.S., but even offers to pay the bricklayer in American currency. He even parrots the ultimate canard of the archetypal Ugly American (which he is in spirit, if not nationality), the belief that were it not for the U.S., they'd all be speaking German.

So, apparently, this is also being read as a political allegory about the U.S. closing itself off in fear from the rest of the world, right?

But how does this relate to actual U.S. foreign policy? I would expect a critical political allegory to portray its America-analogue as lashing out blindly and violently against those it fears, not as defensively drawing inward into itself to avoid confronting those it fears. Of all the things you could accuse GWB's America of, shrinking away from confrontation seems the least plausible. I get the feeling that most of the world would be a lot happier if America had retreated turtle-like into its shell.

Unless, of course, the political allegory in The Village and Daybreak is meant to be praising the U.S. for not shying away from confrontation. But that doesn't seem to be the way it's being interpreted, and I would find it difficult to believe that's what was intended.

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