[NOTE: This is a rough draft of a rant.]
Is “Die Hard” a Christmas film? Who cares!
Die Hard is anti-American propaganda. It is full of lies that give people the impression that the U.S. government can’t do anything right. Anyone raised seeing that movie will grow up with misconceptions about the government that are harmful to our society.
Let me summarize Die Hard for you:
A criminal master-mind’s plan is predicated on the predictable stupidity of the government’s response. The government’s response is hamstrung by turf wars and egos. Luckily an individual man (one who rejects the government) saves the day. Conclusion: The U.S. government is stupid and the only thing we can trust is a vigilante that takes matters into his own hands.
Let me clarify some things:
Lie: Law enforcement is predictable.
A lot of the film is premised on the criminals being able to guess the government’s next step because they’re hamstrung by regulations.
Truth: in a democracy we require law enforcement to abide by the ethics of the society. Therefore, we put limits on their power.
As a result, law enforcement can’t just “kill everyone and let God sort them out” like action heroes. Holy shit, it isn’t like that would even help this kind of situation anyway!
Actual hostage negotiators are highly trained professionals who often resolve major conflicts with just their voice, their brain, and a lot of strategy.
Films like Die Hard raised a generation of people that were more accepting of the over-use of force. For some crazy fucked-up reason, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 we permitted police forces to become militarized to an absurd degree. As a result we have an increase in situations like the Breonna Taylor shooting.
80 percent of police calls are noise complaints and other “quality of life” issues. Rather than focusing on giving our police department the tools they need to address this, films like Die Hard have made people think it is reasonable to give military weapons to police departments.
Why didn’t we spend the last 20 years focused on the 80 percent? Help them with the tools of de-escalation, training on how to handle domestic disputes? Heck, police officers that I know tell me they hate dealing with that shit. Why not swap a small fraction of police funding for people trained to handle that “80 percent”? Let cops focus on the kind of work they want to work on!
Why not? Because our minds are polluted with Die Hard and other junk films.
Yes, there is hope. One Florida police department is replacing officers with social workers for non-violent calls. Many other cities are moving in that direction. There’s an entire movement trying to do this. What are they learning? It is more effective and costs less.
Lie: Law enforcement wastes time battling turf wars.
Scene after scene of the delays caused by debates over local, state, and federal jurisdiction. Everyone involved has a big ego. Everyone wants to own the situation so they can do it their way.
Which is all a lie.
That kind of thing used to happen… occasionally. A car hits a fire hydrant and utility pole. Occupants are trapped and injured. Water from broken hydrant floods the street. Live wires and a transformer are sitting in water. Who should be in charge? The fire department, ambulance service, police department, water department, or the electric company? The ambulance crew needs to evacuate the victims, but first the fire crew needs to extricate them from the wreckage, but first the water company needs to shut off the water, but none of that can happen until the electric company … you get my pointed.
If you grew up believing Die Hard’s propaganda, you’d think this was a major problem.
It turns out that this has been a solved problem since the 1970s when the the Incident Command System (ICS) was created. It evolved into a national standard and is used by nearly all US public safety agencies. It is either mandated or required to obtain state/Federal funding.
You know who the real heroes are? The people that created ICS and then spent their lives getting it adopted universally.
Lie: Violent criminals have infinite resources.
Truth: No they don’t. Read the chapter in Freakonomics called “Why Drug Dealers Live With Their Moms”. They’re broke. That’s why they crime for a living.
They’re not even very smart. Except, possibly, Pablo Escobar because he understood the power of vertical integration on a level that only McDonalds and Google do.
You know who has infinite resources? Big corporations with legions of lawyers.
What if I told you that in 1982 a criminal syndicate set up a “long game” to legalize the things they wanted to to, or at least defund any law enforcement that might try to stop them? What if I told you that they got their collaborators to set up social events at every law school in the U.S. to help recruit lawyers who would write legal papers to justify what they are doing in legal-sounding terms, paid law professors to coach them, and when those lawyers grew up and become judges, would be on the hook to overturn laws that prevent the crimes this syndicate wanted to do? At the same time, those lawyers that became politicians would defund the various government agencies that enforce such laws, basically legalizing the crimes of the syndicate by fiat?
And what if I told you that this organization kept no membership list, so that they were unaccountable. Everyone could claim “I just went to a social event… I’m not a member!” What if the syndicate gathered “donations” totaling more than $20 million in 2020 enabling them to exert influence in every law school, every state, every legislative body?
That’s called The Federalist Society and it is a real thing.
You may have heard of them a few times in the last 4-5 years. 45 restricted his SCOTUS selections to people from a list provided to him by The Federalist Society.
What’s the result?
Rich people only pay taxes when they want to. You and I basically can’t cheat on taxes. Taxes are withheld from our paychecks, when we cash out of investments, etc (passive collection). We can’t do it wrong because we have no choice. However rich people live in a different world where they calculate how much taxes they’ll pay, then are audited to make sure those calculations fit within the law. However thanks to the syndicate, those auditors have been defunded to the point that rich people can cheat on their taxes and be confident they’ll never be caught. There just aren’t enough auditors working at the IRS to do that.
The syndicate had a dream: A dream where they could never be sued by their consumers. For most situations they’ve achieved that, thanks to the syndicate’s long game. It required putting a son in the Justice Department and a father on the supreme court. (more info)
Give me $20 MILLION DOLLARS every year and I’d be able to do some amazing things too.
Die Hard encourages us to focus on the extremely small amount of violent crime that exists, and ignore the real crime happening all around us.
If I was a parent, I wouldn’t let my kids watch “Die Hard”. Not because of the violence, but because I wouldn’t want their minds polluted by misinformation about how the world works.
I would, however, let them watch movies that show how the world really works:
Or if you really want to be scared, watch “The Laundromat” (2019) to see how lawyers protect criminals. You’ll cringe the next time you pay an insurance bill.
If I wanted them to see how we got here, “The Hunting of the President” (2004) is a great explanation of how people manufacture (false) stories and hand them to the media who unwittingly share them as truth.
Other movies I recommend:
- Bullitt (Quite the antidote to the Dirty Harry mentality)
- The Dish
- Apollo 13
- Straight Outta Compton
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I don’t think there are secret cabals doing this. I do, however, understand that Hollywood is drawn to the dramatic and outrageous, and that organizations like The Federalist Society are real, effective, and really effective.
Is Die Hard a Christmas film? Who cares.