The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Basterds All

October 7, 2009

Blogging was light over the weekend while I was in DC on field research. But at least I finally got to see Inglorious Basterds while visiting my brother. Whew. Various bloggers have complained about the questionable values imparted in the film and a human security specialist can’t really argue with that.

But then again it wouldn’t be a Quentin Tarantino movie otherwise… see? See?

Actually, I thought that compared to his earlier stuff this was pretty tame. (Or maybe I’m just desensitized. Yeah, that’s probably it.) I was much more intrigued by the historical revisionism in the film’s premise than I was in the narrative about soldiers acting unjustly in the context of a just war. I think the suspension of disbelief required by the ending undermines the power of Tarantino’s depiction of violence – by forcing us to figure he’s painting a picture of an alternative timeline where the war ended differently, he’s inviting us to believe that in fact “our boys” would never really have behaved that way – instead of destabilizing our cherished assumptions about the “good war.” Ha.

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.