Monday, March 08, 2010

The Hurt Locker and The Year 2009

Is The Hurt Locker really the movie we want 2009 to be remembered by?

Last night, the 82nd Academy Awards were held - and bestowed the biggest honors of the night on The Hurt Locker. The movie's victory has haunted me all day.

Is this the movie we want to define the past year? In a year when Avatar becomes the largest grossing film ever (not adjusted for inflation, of course) and revolutionizes how technology and cinema go together, an indie war drama that few people ever saw, let alone heard about, steals the show?

But as I reflected on this disappointment, it occured to me: in a year that saw the high point of the Great Recession, the ugly wars on health care and politics, two continuing wars being fought overseas, and the loss of businesses and jobs - perhaps The Hurt Locker fits right in. The film's title itself means "a place of ultimate pain," a term used to describe the act of getting injured in an explosion (which is the type of military work the main characters in the movie are engaged in). The year 2009 - for many - was a place of ultimate pain.

SSG William James (Jeremy Renner) is also an addict (even the movie's opening crawl states, "The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug" from War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning). James is addicted to the thrill of the chase - so much so that he has blocked out any concept of family or peace. While the others in his unit (Sanborn and Eldridge) are ready to go home, James is ready for another go-around - to feed his addiction.

In such ugliness of war - and in the pain of the Great Recession - people can turn to the wrong source to find solace. SSG James found his comfort in the rush of battle. Where have the victims of the Great Recession found their comfort?

So perhaps The Hurt Locker is an analogy for the experience of the past year after all. Perhaps this is how we will remember 2009. Maybe we're not ready yet for films like Avatar and Star Trek - which look forward into a hopeful future. Maybe we're still trying to figure out how to get out of the mess we're in - politically, economically, societally, and spiritually. Maybe we're still in the pressure cooker of our own "hurt locker."

And if that's the case - how can we reach out and comfort, minster, and mentor those who are hurting or who are in pain? How can we help them discover the solace of peace and nonviolence, the comfort of community, and the hope of the gospel? These are the next questions that I will continue to wrestle with as we move forward.


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother.
MaryEllyn Peterek

Briana said...

Hey Paul, what a blessing to find such reflection from something that just did not feel right to you. I think your point is well made about 2009 being a year of "ultimate pain" for so many folks. I hope someday we ARE able to look toward the future with hope... perhaps 2010 will be that year. :)