Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, February 18, 2021

Apparently, the intelligentsia at the Grey Lady just got wind of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, and conclude that this upcoming movie represents a cultural barometer regarding attitudes toward America’s most notorious prison.

But Guantánamo is no longer just a naval station or even just a detention center. It is an idea in worldwide culture — in more than 20 books and half a dozen movies and plays, with more coming out every month.

It has become shorthand for hopeless imprisonment and sweltering isolation. “The strange new Alcatraz,” one writer calls it, “the gulag of our times.”

I don’t think the Harold and Kumar treatment is the tipping point in making Guantánamo a casual reference. The easy transfer of the militaryspeak “Gitmo” nickname into mainstream usage probably started the process, but the repetitive mention of the name during War of Terror coverage cemented it as common feature on the current-affairs landscape. A comedic turn is just another step in the progression of developing the social mindset.

Besides, in the case of this laff-fest sequel, the particulars of the situation come together to give a plausibility to the farce. Let’s face it, dark-skinned Harold and Kumar being tagged as Gitmo-level terrorists makes sense. But, say, Larry the Cable Guy getting shipped there in a similar premise? I wouldn’t put it past some Hollywood hack to try it, but any humor attempt would draw on different sensibilities.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/18/2008 10:09:50 PM
Category: Movies, Political, Pop Culture, Society
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