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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Good point, bad movie

Hurt Locker "failed to draw large audiences" for the very reasons I walked out: that it was promiscuously violent and Hollywood-ingratiatingly anti-military.

Great artists shouldn't "try to use their art to lead the public on a divisive political issue" at all. To politicize art is to demean, even distort, it. Art as agitprop isn't real art. Nonetheless, art does have real-world impact and extensive educational value.

Art trumps Power Point presentations in effectiveness because, first, it's emotional, even instinctual, rather than only cognitive. The Bard himself explains this point when mentioning how art can "apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends" (Midsummer Night's Dream).

Second, and related, great art involves a narrative, usually a great narrative. We appreciate and remember stories far more than bullet points. Jesus' parables are considerably more fetching than Deuteronomy's dictates.

Third, great art goes to the core of human existence. Not to today's fleeting issues, ala "Hurt Locker," but to the depths of our nature -- in this case, mankind's propensity to violence, and many soldiers' difficulty with establishing tender relationships. Art reveals what makes people tick, which remains fairly constant over time.

Hence an Oscar should have been given to Troilus and Cressida, if the Hollywood types wanted to award a potent anti-military drama. Or to Coriolanus if the desired message was the difficulty of a soldier (re-)adapting to normal life. These two fairly obscure Shakespeare dramas are far more powerful, educational and impactful than "Hurt Locker."

By Ken Adelman

 |  March 9, 2010; 6:24 AM ET
Category:  Artistic leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I am not sure we saw the same movie. This was not an an attempt to "try to use their art to lead the public on a divisive political issue". There was no intent to talk about the "evil" of the Iraq war or bad mouth Bush, etc but was a character study. It showed proud military men doing there job and the breakdown of one man under pressure and how he chose to cope against the background of one ofthe most stressful jobs I could imagine. Your attempts to paint it otherwise are disingenuous.

Posted by: cadam72 | March 9, 2010 3:25 PM
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Just had to put in my 2 cents; I saw the movie and if I had gone alone I too would have walked out.
I considered the movie, Hurt Locker, to be both boring and intolerably repetitive.
In my opinion it was not even worthy of even one Oscar!!

Posted by: imiga | March 9, 2010 1:35 PM
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That you failed to wait for the credits to roll is glaringly obvious from your way-off-the-mark critique. The "hero" re-ups in the end, because life after war, and the tension of defusing bombs, was insipid to him.

The film was not at all "anti-military," nor did it make any political statements about the war. As war films go, I didn't even find it particularly violent - no more than necessary to keep it real.

If you're going to critique films, you might try actually seeing them.

Posted by: Pamsm | March 9, 2010 12:35 PM
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I never offer myself for profit. If there's profit, who can argue about it? They seem to be happy arguing for loss while rewarding mediocrity.

Pressure—offer information that encourages society to discredit its own government.
Then there is grace under pressure, that special quality. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 9, 2010 9:01 AM
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Are you sure you had not made up your mind about the film before you went in and walked out. Perhaps you could have just done your review at home and saved yourself the travel time and worked further on your critiquing of the film.

Posted by: eruffing | March 9, 2010 8:05 AM
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