Blood and Oil

[This post is nearly a year old; I’d drafted it, and then forgotten to tidy it up and publish it. I made some minor edits, but it’s been long enough since I first wrote this that I’m mostly leaving it alone.]

A few weeks ago I watched Syriana and Shooter on consecutive nights; they’d ended up next to each other on my Netflix queue, and I somehow ended up with two conducive-to-movie-watching nights back-to-back. It was a completely unintentional but serendipitous (sort of) juxtaposition.

I’d seen Syriana before; it was as good or better on the second watching. Shooter I expected to be a mindless action film, but I like Mark Wahlberg (especially after I ♥ Huckabees), and I like the occasional mindless action film, so I gave it a try.

I was fairly surprised, then, that Shooter‘s plot was driven by the same thing as Syriana‘s: the politics of America’s dependence on and acquisition of foreign oil. The two films handled the question of American oil politics in completely different ways, of course. Syriana, while certainly not casting American politicians or corporations in anything approaching a favorable light, still explores the nuances and problematic aspects of the question, and doesn’t offer a clear answer, because there isn’t a clear, concise answer to the problem: it affects everything. Shooter is only concerned with American oil politics because its villains – a syndicate of politicians, spooks, and CEOs – need some sort of motivation to be evil, and (foreign) oil is the hot topic du jour. I suppose that in the 1980s, they’d have been importing massive amounts of cocaine into the country while also using the “War on Drugs” as cover for imperialist activity in Central and South America. Or something like that.


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