Sail Free or Die Hard: the American Response to Piracy

So the first American-run ship was hijacked by Somali pirates yesterday and instead of allowing the pirates to run rough-shod over them and ransom the ship and its cargo, the American crew managed to disable the ship, forcing the pirates to flee with only one hostage: the ship's selfless captain.

Now I know a few months ago we were all asking ourselves, "Are these pirates sweet?" and many of us concluded that "Yes, yes they are." However, a new question has arisen in response to this new pirate attack on the American vessel: are our guys sweeter?

In short, I believe the superior sweetness of our guys is undeniable. Not only did our guys kick the pirates off of the ship without the use of any firearms, but they also managed to live out every American action movie ever made, reinforcing our national worship of the take charge-no bull shit American hero who is simultaneously a selfless martyr willing to sacrifice for his fellow man.

Let's consider the crew's decision to disable the ship. Did anyone else immediately think of Harrison Ford in Air Force One? Now it's true we could think of the passengers of Flight 93 but I'm trying to write a light-hearted piece and I'm not interested in getting bogged down in that. Back to American cinema. Imagine being a crew member. You have no weapons and the Somalis have boarded your ship. You look to your shipmate and say, "They're not taking our ship." You hatch a plan with those on board to sabotage the ship. I would be very surprised if at least one crew member didn't think to him or herself that when they had successfully foiled the pirates' plans and were about to throw them off the ship that he or she would take advantage of this unbelievably sweet moment and say to the pirate "Get off my ship!!!" I'm sure many of the crewmembers thought that it was their responsibility as representatives of the US of A to do what sailors of other nations did not have the courage to do... to say "No" to the piracy and kick some ass.

While the crew's plan worked, the captain of the ship was unable to save himself and, at least from what I heard on NPR this morning, agreed to go with the pirates as a hostage to secure the well-being of his men. There's almost too many examples of this to mention but because of the title of my post I have to bring up the most recent Die Hard. The final scene in this ridiculous action movie perfectly captures the spirit of sacrifice we demand from our uniquely American heroes. Bruce Willis is being held hostage by the villain who is standing directly behind him with a gun to Willis' head. Willis' character pulls his partner's gun (who is standing in front of the pair) to his shoulder, effectively shooting the bad guy standing behind him by allowing the bullet to first pass through his body. I'm not sure there's been a sweeter scene in an action movie in a long, long time.

I'm not interested in dissecting WHY we have created this particular idea of what it means to be an American hero; I'm merely pointing out that this recent pirate incident is a particularly sweet example of it being acted out in real life. My thoughts obviously go out to the captain who, as of now, is still on board the small vessel with the pirates. The tiny boat is being closely followed by an American destroyer but they are unable to really take any action at this point. Now there's another distinctly American image: the biggest and best technology a country can build rendered impotent by a few desperate criminals on a speed boat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is great!

  © Blogger template Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP