Remember when the Stop Loss policy was getting a lot of mainstream attention and it seemed like something to get legitimately pissed off about? Well, MTV thinks that time is now, and they want you to care about it again, via their new movie, Stop Loss.
I got a chance to go see a sneak preview of this movie on Tuesday night and I have to say that I walked away pretty impressed. I read the Rolling Stone review and it seems as though they agreed. Then I read my local alternative weekly's review, and just like a typical hipster rag, they had to dog on it, seemingly just because it had attractive people in it.
My opinion falls somewhere in between the two, but certainly way more on the Rolling Stone side of things. (BTW, just as a sidenote, but how great was it to see Matt Taibbi totally eating crow on his last two death sentences on Hillary Clinton? I'm not saying that I'm happy that the contest is still going on, nor with the bitter, terrible tone that the Democratic Presidential Primary has taken, but it's just great to read someone who's so utterly harsh and oftentimes heartless in his writing to get 100% factually proven wrong. But I digress...) Stop Loss is a great movie, if only for the hope that it'll get people talking about this unjust policy once again. It's a ridiculous thing to do, it's unfair to some of the people who need the most fairness in their lives, and it's a terrible thing to put families through.
The key points of the movie seem to me to be that they give equal access to all comers. There's certainly a lot of rah-rah-it's-our-Army type of thing going on, people who are proud of serving their country, and rightly so. There's apparently been some talk that the film justifies desertion, but I also say that's bull. At no point in this movie is the option of running away presented as the right thing to do, nor did it ever seem as though that was the way the movie was going to end. When it did, in fact, end, I looked at the Teacher and said, "Well, that was the only it could have ended." She agreed. It's ludicrous to think that this movie could be glorifying something that is so clearly seen as the wrong choice.
However, despite that angle, the movie never pigeon holes the people who are opposed to the war, or the Stop Loss program, either. There's lots of different options, including the ex-vet who's on the move, finally deciding to go up to Canada after trying to dodge the American government for 14 months, there's the asshole brother of a slain soldier who tells his commanding officer that his brother wasted his life, and there's the guy who promises that they'll be able to get over the border, but really only seems interested in making a buck. (Or a thousand.) These characters, whom we only get to see for a few moments each, all add depth to the overall effect of the movie's theme, which seems obvious to anyone who's willing to put just a little thought in.
The best things about this movie are that it doesn't come down firmly on either side of the war. That's not the point of the movie. The point is to bring this attention to one part of the war that is incontrovertibly wrong: that the American government would purposely and willingly and maliciously lie to the very people who have supported that government and allowed it to get to the position that it's in.
So do yourself a favor: go see the movie. And if you don't see it, at least read up on the policy. Education is good.