I watched Dead Presidents last night. It’s an old movie circa. 1995 and it’s one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen.
It depicts the life of some kid (I can never remember character names) from just before his graduation, through his volunteer service with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Vietnam war, his return to a socially devalued neighbourhood and his eventual downfall; incarsaration for life because of a bungled robbery.
I can’t help feeling for the character. He starts out by saying that he dosn’t want to go to college, like his older brother, but wants to join the army. He comes from what seems to be a good home, where his parents and older brother are supportive of him and care about him. Yet he is, what can only be termed as, abused by his country.
I’m generally not a supporter of war. I don’t believe, in general, that it is the solution to a problem. However, I’ve read several authors on the subject of keeping standing armies. Plato, in particular, is clear that if a young man (it was men in his day) volunteers for the army he should be commended and supported by his state. After all I may generate economic value for my state, but it is the members of the standing army that pledge their lives in the protection of our way of life.
So on the one hand you’ve got my view; that war is generally uncalled for. As examples I’ll cite both of the Iraq wars and the Vietnam war. On the other hand there’s the argument that a standing army is required to defend our way of life as in World War II, where if the Brits didn’t have a standing army they’d be speaking German.
So you’re left with this poor character that believes in the standing army ideal and pledges his life to fight. And fight he does, valiantly, recieving medals and commendations. However when he gets home, he can’t adjust to normal life. His neighbourhood has changed beyond recognition and those who didn’t fight the war don’t understand the psycological trauma he’s going through.
Eventualy, because he recieves so little support from the state/community he was protecting, he feels the need to resort to violence to feed his children. Thus the bungled heist and his downfall.