Starting Point: The images still haunt me


This article originally appeared in Issue# 39

Ordinarily I don't choose to spend my entertainment budget on films like the Rambo series. But there I was, captive on an airplane last year, when First Blood, Part II appeared on the screen in front of me. The headsets were free, so I decided to find out what Rambo was all about.

An hour later I couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't just the brutality that offended me — although it was bad enough and the images still haunt me even now. What was worse was the underlying militarism of it all, the surly attitude that "might makes right" and the unquestioned assumption that people who get in your way must be annihilated.

More than anything else, however, I was amazed that this cardboard character, John Rambo, had become a national hero. I resolved then and there to develop an issue of Media&Values exploring the connection between our popular media and the popularizing of militarism.

As this issue goes to press, it is my hope that the material we've gathered will stimulate in you not just awareness but action — action that will enable each of us individually and all of us collectively to reduce the fear and paranoia which, in our hearts as well as in the media, creates the climate for hate and encourages violence as the solution to conflict.

Author Bio: 

Elizabeth Thoman, a pioneering leader in the U.S. media literacy field, founded Media&Values magazine in 1977 and the Center for Media Literacy in 1989. She is a graduate of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and continues her leadership through this website, consulting, speaking and as a founding board member of the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA).