Just a few
days away from my birthday I thought I'd watch a movie from my
youth. It's always interesting watching stuff again you enjoyed
as a kid. Sometimes doing so spoils a rosy memory because you
can now see just how awful the acting was, or the many
flaws in the story that had previously gone undetected. But occasionally
you can get passed all that and still enjoy it, like when I watch
an old episode of "CHiPs".
Oh how I wanted to be one of those motorbike cops riding the open
freeways of California on my great big Kawasaki Highway Patrol
Bike with my short sleeved shirt, those great big boots and the
cool cop glasses. Of course, the reality is far less glamorous,
for a start these days there are no open freeways in California,
I mean have you ever tried getting anywhere fast on the 405! But
who cares about reality at twelve years of age! I had my bike,
and an imagination that had me in high speed chases and many a
dramatic rescue I can tell you.
tonight I watched the classic teen flick 'War Games'. I say classic,
but truth is you probably only saw (and enjoyed) that movie if
you were born sometime around the 70's. It starred a fresh faced
Matthew Broderick as a computer geek
who manages to hack his way into the U.S. nuclear missile defense
computer and start a game which has near catastrophic
I still enjoyed the film, despite it being more than twenty years
old! But from a distance the movie seemed interesting in its theme,
which was essentially, fear. In this case it was fear of the Soviets
and their many nuclear missiles that were able to wipe America
out within just a few minutes, or so we were told.
As a kid I remember being afraid of such a terrifying war. I recall
the songs in the charts about such things. 'The Final Countdown'
by Europe, 'Dancing with tears in my eyes' by Ultravox, 'Two tribes'
by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Stings 'Russians' in which
he sang that he hoped "the Russians love their children too." Though
we played, as children do, the fear often had me examining objects
making their way across the sky, wondering is that a nuclear missile,
or just a plane?
Today of course, we don't fear the Russians. We trade with them
and treat them much as we would any global neighbor. With the collapse
of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the threat it carried
we should have been able to rest easy for a while. But it seems
that we needed a new enemy to fear, and so we have one.
A modern version of 'War Games' wouldn't feature the Russians,
but instead Islamic extremists, or as we like to call them, Al-Qaeda.
It would perhaps show some cool skateboarding kid infiltrate and
expose a group of strangely bearded 'middle eastern looking' men
plotting to bring "terror" to the United States. Terror
that would, of course, not come to pass because after all this
is Hollywood we're talking about so the 'good guy' would have to
The reality of such threats from the Soviets or 'Al-Qaeda' may
well be real, but I can't help but wonder if such films allow us
to live in fear of an enemy that actually has far less power and
potential than Hollywood, our news, our governments and, perhaps
most of all, our imaginations might have us believe.
While it certainly seems inconceivable to us now that 'Al-Qaeda'
might once again become an ally, it surely can't be put beyond
the realms of possibility. After all, when 'War Games' was showing
in theatres across the globe, who would have bet on the Russians
and Americans working together in space on an orbital space station?