But this week I finally saw Black Hawk Down and as the movie hit the apex of action--the failed attempt to rescue the trapped soldiers, and the Americans' position overrun by Aideed's men and other locals--my jaw dropped.
It was a zombie attack!
(Somalis move in on one of the soldiers.)
But at the same time, dark, shadowy and spooky like the old time zombies, back when there were bad special effects so the zombies were half-lit and really scary.
Because, as Oprah taught me, dark skin has to be lit differently than light skin (stands to reason). (Don't say Oprah never taught me anything useful about race.) The Somalis are rarely well lit.
Lighting favorable to darker skin - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gabarone
Lighting favorable to white guys/good guys - American soldiers amongst the faceless rabble in Mogadishu
You know he's the baddie--he's dark, poorly lit, and you can't see his shifty eyes!
I don't know if Ridley Scott's a fan of zombie films, but the zombie-ites are a fan of him.
#1. Article called So You Want to Write a Zombie Apocalypse: "Black Hawk Down is commonly referred to as an Honorary Zombie Movie. The film completely revolves around a small group of soldiers surrounded by an enraged, riotous mob ready to fight tooth and nail. Literally thousands of Somali attackers are killed, and they just keep coming. Try watching it after playing Resident Evil 5."
#2. Blog: "Best Zombie Move Ever? Easy. Black Hawk Down ...The bad guys are never humanized. They move in violent mobs. They do nothing but attack and kill. Meanwhile, our good guys move street by street, house by house, killing bad guys and doing their best to survive until the cavalry comes. The whole movie is shaded in a sense of overwhelming doom and making it alive is the ultimate resolution."
#3. zombieinfo.com discussion: "I still tend to classify whether a movie feels like a zombie movie or not going by that sense of dread in being confronted by a massive force of violent beings who can’t really be detered from their resolution to do horrible things to you by way of logic or reason.. especially if they are or use to be human. from the perspective I have even loosely described black hawk down as a freakin zombie movie rather than an all out war flick. not because they’re zombies… but because if you like that certain thrill a zombie movie gives you for the reasons i’ve listed then that falls under the same category." (emphasis added)Somalis portrayed as mindless massive force, resolute on doing horrible things, with no logic or reason. A perfect description. And awful, awful!
The hoard attacking the downed helicopter
More and more pouring out of the streets--the more you kill, the more arrive.
Finally the soldiers can't shoot them all--individuals come closer to the chopper, and get in some rounds, killing our two heroes.
The rest of the Somalis crowd in, shooting, throwing rocks, and yelling unintelligibly (I mean, without subtitles).
To the point where the camera is obscured.
The streets are still filling. They run over the helicopter like ants...
and you see a dead body lifted out...
juxtaposed with the human images of the nearby hidden soldier, looking at a photo of his family.
Do you begin to see why I goggled?
And now (apparently) Black Hawk Down is being used to prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse, and/or the coming zombie apocalypse is seen as a metaphor for preparing for the day when poor-starving-hoards turn on the rich white people and attack them.
#1. On a site where someone asked, what's with this zombie apocalypse trend: "It's a reason to buy guns, ammo, and survival gear. And there's honestly the distinct posibility of it happening. People act like zombies are unbelieveable improbable... Exactly, like on the documentary Black Hawk Down." (bodybuilding forum)
#2. This person lists the Black Hawk Down book as a reference manual for learning zombie defense skills: "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
by Mark Bowden
War is a horrific ugly thing. This is even truer in the modern day and age. Just to get away from thinking that it might be a merry good time I suggest you read this book. It is of course the story of the Battle of Mogadishu where 100 or so Army SpecOps types fought thousands of local Militia in an African shit-hole. It is in your face reality based on the eyewitness accounts of dozens of participants on both sides. It is also a good example of what happens when well-trained and equipped warriors meet up against a savage undisciplined mob." (emphasis added)
Maybe this is what the Kenyans are currently worried about now that East Africa is experiencing what's being called the worst famine in 60 years. (As opposed to a famine of "Biblical scale" as Black Hawk Down describes the one in the movie.) Somalizombies are walking sometimes a full month (must be the slow moving zombies) to find food in Kenya, though instead of being shot on sight they're being treated as refugees and given aid, and the security debate revolves around whether to open a second refugee camp. That's how the mindless savages treat each other. With aid and refugee camps.
We civilized nations intend to fight the starving masses though (and in the process be eaten by them until only one or two of us survive, in Romero/Snyder fashion). We'll practice on our Resident Evil 5 zombie game where a white hero (albeit assisted by people of color) kills African zombies in Kijuju, Africa. One critic compared the aesthetic to Black Hawk Down:
The music that they're using in the trailer is very reminiscent of the music used in Black Hawk Down which was set in Africa -- Somalia. That actually was one of the things that was most disturbing because it sort of had a feeling as like, "Wow, what research did this team do? Did they only watch Black Hawk Down and give it this kind of vibe?"
One mustn't worry about political correctness when preparing for the upcoming
BlackReader's Note: Let's get one extremely minor, stupid, 'controversial' thing out of the way so that we can both, reviewer and reader, get down to business: Resident Evil 5 features a Caucasian protagonist blowing away lots and lots of non-Caucasian enemies. If you are aware from the outset that the game takes place in Africa and yet you are still troubled by any skin-tone-related aspects—on any level whatsoever—there is a distinct probability that you have been exposed to the brain-damaging mutagenic affliction Politicalus Correctimus. Alternately, there exists the possibility of simple, congenital retardation on your own part. Seek professional consultation before you attempt to breed.
Capcom designers have described the tension and setting of Resident Evil 5 by referencing not only the expected wave of 'fast-zombie' films, but also the white-knuckle Black Hawk Down. And there are whole stretches of this game that absolutely nail the frantic, outnumbered panic of hauling ass down some pisspot, claustrophobic, clutter-strewn, bifurcating Kijuju back alley... all of this broken up by the infuriating (and yet somehow emotionally right) need to actually stop and stand in place to try and gun down the waves of gibbering subhuman hordes raving and scrabbling toward the unlucky spot where you try to make a stand. (gamerevolution.com review) (emphasis added)
The zombies attacking grain in Black Hawk Down.
Somalis lining up for food in Mogadishu last month. Scary stuff.
And there's the rub. At one point in the movie someone says "We're fighting the whole city"--hence the zombie feel--but there's no reason given why the Mogadishu locals are helping Aideed's men.
It's a really long Bruckheimer shoot-em-up movie where I could barely tell what was happening, and almost no time was spent explaining the complex lead-up. We might have cut down on the barely comprehensible action and dull "get-to-know-your G.I." scenes, and engaged in some politicking up front. But that would have made it an actual movie-movie and not an action movie. (If you're interested, there's a good critique of the movie here that gets into the politics.)
I'm just saying: (1) Be bloody careful when you film crowd scenes in movies. Unless you want your movie, about a real event, that resulted in the deaths of American, Malaysian, and Somali soldiers, and Somali citizens, to end up on lists of Best Zombie Movies of All Time;
(2) if you are going to portray the masses as zombies, at least give them a freaking reason for --even zombies wanted to eat the heroes' flesh;
and (3) the man who produced such works as Con Air, Armageddon, Pirates of the Caribbean, Days of Thunder, Bad Boys, CSI, National Treasure and The Amazing Race should not be making war movies (and yes, he should not have made Pearl Harbor either). And he shouldn't be making them with the director of Gladiator.