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The expendables 1


Men & poets
Some notes on the necessity & difficulty of telling stories about war & justice in our times

Sylvester Stallone has endeavored to bring back all the action stars, gracing them in the process with a memorable appearance. Men die, being mortal, when their bodies die. Heroes die only when they are forgotten. Stories are therefore supposed to be unforgettable. The image of the hero stands for that human desire for both immortality & self-knowledge.

This is a story about justice. Men who take their citizenship seriously, who love their political freedom, will notice this. It is the task of the poet to move us by his craft, but the stories he tells us had better be important, lest we forget & he fail to achieve much. If the movie does not ask: Is justice the crucial question? – if the movies does not ask: Are the good rewarded? – if the story does not ask: Can men reasonably hope for good things in the future? – then the movie is unimportant.

The poet’s task is to teach that justice is needful & to move men to act with a view to justice. Movies that deal with this double requirement, this problem can aspire to greatness. They alone show us human greatness & the political necessity for heroes. If our political freedom & our countries are to survive, future men will have to learn our political situation & problems, because our times are interesting. War threatens to tear us apart. Heroes protect our unity.

Our men are mercenaries: Paid fighters & killers. We first see them saving hostages from Somali pirates. They do this job for mercy. They end up killing almost everyone… But when one of them resorts to cruelty, the others threaten to kill him. This is what killing with justice looks like.

Then they must free a country from a tyrant. Their employer clearly does not care for the difference between freedom & tyranny. The tyrannized people are not consulted or expected to help. They have never been free. The tyrant himself is not enthusiastic about renouncing tyranny. This is the fundamental political fact: Enslavement. This is their life: Fighting barbarians & tyrants.

Now, pirates are said to be enemies of mankind, but tyrants have a claim to their tyrannies & are much more difficultly destroyed. Meanwhile, let us note that Americans do not like our heroes, who are nobodies. Educated by people who hate or fear men, our heroes have no heroic cause, though they retain their heroic inclinations & military skills. It seems they fall back on the oldest American habit, facing ugly necessity. It was the motto of Virginia, when Americans knew war & did not fear it. Indeed, our heroes today say merely what the Founders would have said: Thus always to tyrants.

Sly Stallone is back & making a sequel. See this movie