As a CBS-sponsored film focusing on the event that inspired years of news coverage following the rehabilitation of bombing victims, a film which starred a native son and also received FBI cooperation, I expected to see all of the politically correct Ts crossed, all of the POC I’s dotted along the way to a feel good ‘Boston Strong’ ending.
My mother, conditioned across a lifetime of voting, reading the news paper and watching network news to accept the materialistic romanticism of the consumptive American culture with as much positivity as my grandfather assigned to a tale of duty and honor starring John Wayne, was eager to go. It enhanced her enjoyment that I too thought this was a good movie and it was: well written, excellently played, with high production values across the board.
My purpose in seeing the movie—beyond escorting Mom—was to receive the latest version of what our invisible masters wish us to believe is good in life. Such a movie—avoided by counter culture critics—is the very movie the counter culture man should view, for it lays out the current parameters of the Lie Everlasting, the Lie Ever-Elastic according to which he is expected to live.
It was quite numbingly instructive to be subjected to the trailers, most of which were comic book adaptations and all of which featured the same sacred “God Music” that Patriot’s Day featured. This music is featured in the trailer below in its mild form and becomes more holy, more stridently declaring that the sacred is before our eyes, with the addition of a tone that is at once a bell and is not. I do not know music at all. But there is a sacred ringing key that is struck and carried in the sound track of a movie or commercial in which the viewer is supposed to understand that what he is seeing represents a sacred state of grace, a shining apex of human achievement, when the hand of the artistic man touches the finger of God, receiving the all-spark of divinity. This music is in every comic book movie when things are shown in their most domesticated, least challenging state. Then, when the bad guys show up action tempo music of a darker sort is injected.
This music, that in earlier films would have been reserved for divine revelations and other notices that the protagonist in the film is in the presence of God, is increasingly being used to accompany the all-seeing camera’s eye as it panoramically introduces McMansions, chemically treated lawns, parkways, office buildings, city skylines, and someone going about the day-to-day in affluent peace.
Patriot’s Day takes it one step further by maintaining the soundtrack of sacred sentimentality as a Budweiser label turns in the actor’s hand, as the Under Armor label on his shirt occupies the center of the screen, as a sparkling barroom and crowded stadium announce that what is good in life, what is most holy to the American Collective, is our leisure time and material luxury, particularly of the urban center.
The music worked its spell—this was America, beautiful and unwitting, helpless before two murderous man-children—a freak and a geek.
In those scenes depicting action, a discordant music, rising to a chalkboard scratching crescendo as the acts of the villains unfolded, and—most importantly in my view—when the heroes went into action, remained shrill and irritating, to the point where my mother whispered that the music was bothering her. The music was supposed to bother her. When the heroes were acting against evil, instead of more traditional positive energy music, one still heard the discordant theme that something was wrong.
The plot was historical and included the myth of ‘Boston Strong’ that just being the victim was heroic, and furthermore, that one was a proxy hero if they obeyed the law and hid indoors—a million people hiding from one scared punk as he hid from them. Through the characters we learn that the authorities were most afraid of two things:
That the people of Boston would identify and eliminate the two terrorists and that Muslims would be harassed or blamed. A distant third was the fear of more bombings. In the end, the little faggot was only discovered because an old man broke the curfew and found him.
Throughout the film the authorities are depicted as being primarily concerned that Bostonians might decide to defend themselves. Boston is depicted as party town USA, as sacred for this very reason, and great pains are gone to by the filmmakers [watch the stadium scene in the epilogue] to assure the viewer that the sacred American word, the word of grace and power and goodness…is fuck.
We hide and say fuck.
We obey and say fuck.
When we have no choice we fight back and say fuck.
On the surface it just seemed like the filmmakers were having fun with the fact that Bostonians are crudely spoken. However, anyone who has written, filmed or composed to any degree should be able to look at this film and see that the advancement of this utterance as symbolizing the rightness of a society built around nothing other than consumption falls cleanly within the sphere of symbolism. It is no accident that in a film depicting a faith-based attack on Americans that this word is virtually enshrined as a right in scene after scene, even to the point of placing a dyke cop on a roof, defying FBI authority with recourse to the sacred word of power.
I have always noted that when people use this word it means they have just surrendered to circumstances and have given up on advancing their mental process toward resolving whatever has emerged to obstruct their progress through the day.
It was fascinating for this viewer to be able to identify the very specific form of bleating that the God-state [the Federal government is treated as divine in this film—divine in the pagan sense of an awesome, uncaring, yet demanding pantheon of half understood powers] wishes its sheep to emit when wolves come into the fold.
The subtext of this film was clear that our very mode of luxurious living is, in and of itself, holy and that it can only be maintained be a redefinition of heroics and human strength to mean the most passive form of suffering possible. The filmmakers and the government actors they accurately depicted emphatically stated that the worst possible fate of a city under terrorist attack would be for the citizens to rise up at once and seize the people attacking them.
I highly recommend this film as an exercise in the study of the Lie.
As a final note, the film that inspired the title of this piece portrays a purely predatory threat to society with no ideological backing, that yet seems morally superior to the worship of witless passivity at the core of the film under consideration. In the horror movie passivity is not the lionized characteristic of the hero but the pitfall the heroine must overcome.
(2017) Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon Drama Movie HD