The other night, during a bout of insomnia, I was watching Rambo III— the 80s film classic. I was impressed by the acting, the story, and the relationship between John Rambo and the Afghani military battling the evil Russian army. It reminded me of the way Ukraine and NATO are currently picking a fight with poor defenseless Putin. I felt inspired and hope freedom fighter Vladimir has a John Rambo of his own in his back pocket.
Around 3 a.m., bleary eyed with sleepiness (not from crying!) I popped the VHS Criterion Collection Edition of the cinematic classic out of my VCR and then I forwarded a link of the movie to a group email, which included friends and family, with the subject line “Inspired” and went to bed.
They Drew First Blood
My wife, Greta, woke me up a few hours later to say there was a major problem, and it wasn’t my snoring like usual. We sat in the breakfast nook where she and my son Miguel explained that my email account had been hacked!
“Hacked?” I yelled. “How is that possible?” I’d never shared my password :(pussy69;) with anyone.
“Apparently,” my wife said, “the hacker used my email to send a link to a very racist and unpatriotic film.”
I grabbed my trusty Lenovo Thinkpad that I’d left charging overnight (bad battery) and opened my Yahoo! Mail account. “Nothing new here,” I said, as I scanned my sent messages folder.
“No Dad,” my eldest son, a whip-smart graduate of the Niagara Community College Computer Programming program, said. “It’s right here!” He pointed to the email that I’d sent a few hours earlier recommending Rambo III.
“False alarm,” I laughed. “I sent that link before bed.” I carefully closed the laptop (hinges are shot) and headed back up to bed.
“False alarm,” my wife repeated. “Do you know that Rambo is essentially aiding the group that would later become the Taliban? The same group who destroyed the Twin Towers, removed women’s rights, and essentially plunged the US into billions of debt to fight evil.”
“Never forget,” my super nerd son reminded me.
“It’s only a movie.” I laughed.
I’ve Fired A Few Shots
Miguel shook his head at me the way I used to when he wouldn’t eat his vegetables. “You can’t say that Dad. Just because a film was made in a totally different time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t judge it by today’s standards.”
That sounds like that ‘Presentism’ thing my counter columnist, Doreen Trudeau wrote about on the website.
“Ugh, no one cares about your right-wing blog.”
“You might want to check with our satisfied advertisers about that, son,” I smiled.
“Well,” Miguel added. “We’ve already been disinvited to Mr. Wong’s Thanksgiving NFL party, Mrs. Wright’s Christmas and Kwanza Carol singing festival, and half the family is vowing not to return for our annual Black Friday Gelman Family Backyard Barbecue.”
“You’re no better than that awful Kyrie Irving,” Greta stated, almost in tears.
Personally, I admire the Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie. In fact, I’d won a few same game parlays on FanDuel betting on him earlier this year. Sure, he spoke up for what he believed in: flat earth and anti-vaxx, but that was no reason to cancel him. After he sent out that link to the documentary ‘Hebrews to Negroes’ on Amazon Prime, he did apologize—yet still lost millions in sponsorship deals and was painted as an anti-Semite by the Atlantic and other super woke publications.
To Survive A War, You Gotta’ Become War
It didn’t make any sense to me. If the world was so against these movies then why not censor them the way they censored all the COVID-19 stuff or Joe Biden gaffes? When Mr. Wong sent out a movie link for Cocoon everybody loved the recommendation despite the obvious ageism. When Lebron James tweeted about defunding the police nobody suspended him. Or what about that time he kicked fans out of games for not wearing masks? Despite the CDC essentially saying that masks are useless.
A day or two later, Greta, who had confined me to sleeping in the basement, said: “Are you ready to apologize?”
“I only sent a link to a movie that anyone could watch!”
“You embarrassed the entire family,” she said.
“Whatever possessed God in heaven to make a man like Rambo?” I mused to myself but all the same decided that I needed to make things right with my clan. I made a few calls to some old connections from the days when I wrote for the NBC hit series, ALF, and after a lot of waiting found myself on the phone with John Rambo. I explained my situation.
You’re Not Changing Anything
“Duh, that’s no good, Adrian,” Rambo said.
I repeated that my name was Toby. Then John emphasized that when he made the Rambo films he had no idea what the future would hold. He said the actors who played the future Taliban were in fact just some Mexicans living in Pasadena, and had never been to Afghanistan. He even confessed that their lines in the film were basically gibberish. Then he said that I wasn’t the first middle-aged white guy to get into the doghouse for sending a Rambo link.
“Duh, why didn’t you send Cocoon?” he asked. “Everybody loves Steve Guttenberg.”
“But it was just a movie!” I shouted into the phone.
“Why are you pushing me?” replied the calm cold voice of the American hero.
After a bit of cajoling John agreed to come to Mr. Wong’s party and apologize on my behalf.
I met John at the airport. He was shorter and older than he’d looked in the 30-year-old film, but still had the look of a freedom fighter in his eyes.
“Duh, where’s the party?” he said.
I drove him to Mr. Wong’s, but instead of going inside we sat in the car for a while and talked tactics.
I said: “When you were defeating the Russians did you ever think the future world would go this crazy over a late-night action flick?
John looked at me and said: “Adrian, it was just a made up movie. It wasn’t even real, mostly.”
“Of course it wasn’t real.” I shouted.
“You know what they say ‘bout all dis cancel culture, Adrian. Old men start it, young men fight it, nobody wins, everybody in the middle dies, and nobody tells the truth!”
Live For Nothing, Or Die For Something
Then it hit me: Why would I need to apologize for something someone else made! I had nothing to do with Rambo, just like Kyrie had nothing to do with the movie he watched! I could see everyone inside enjoying their beyond meat sausages, while watching the Packers fill in the Cowboys, and thought forget about them. Then I drove John back to the airport and said: “Goodbye, Rambo, and thank you for your service.”
“Duh, my name’s Sylvester.”
And that’s all the woke I can rebel against this week.
Producer of Woke Up! podcast, father of six, husband to Greta, and author of Johnny Jock PI Moon Rock Opera.