Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 48: Rambo – First Blood

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Nick Mason, Hank Oslo, and Alex Nicholson

Notes:

“Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment. Back here I can’t even hold a job washin’ cars.” The dichotomy runs deeper, for American John Rambo, Vietnam war hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, returns to a society that bears little resemblance to the military culture of brutal discipline and clearly defined rules: follow orders, complete the mission, watch my back, I’ll watch yours. In post-Vietnam War America, soldiers are an unfortunate reminder of America’s shame, and like old racehorses with broken legs, are neglected and effectively left to die. But for this veteran, being ignored was something he could handle. Being disrespected – that was something he just couldn’t allow. Having lost everything – his friends, his career, his purpose in life – all he had left was his honor. He was not about to let anyone take that away from him.

References: 

– First Blood, Kotcheff (1982)
– Iraq Versus Vietnam: A Comparison of Public Opinion, Newport and Carroll (2005) – http://news.gallup.com/poll/18097/iraq-versus-vietnam-comparison-public-opinion.aspx
– Did Vietnam Change the Way We Welcome Veterans Home?, Hsia (2012) – https://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/did-vietnam-change-the-way-we-welcome-veterans-home/
– Lone Survivor, Berg (2013)
– Veterans draw comparisons between Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rockett (2015) – http://www.dailypress.com/news/military/dp-nws-vietnam-iraq-afghanistan-20151113-story.html
– Iraq War Veterans – Paving the Way for How we Treat those Returning Home, National Veterans Foundation (2017) – https://nvf.org/iraq-war-veterans-returning-home/

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14 Comments

  1. This was another interesting episode. The hidden depths of Rambo…

    Also, I don’t want to sound like a dick, complaining about free entertainment; but the audio quality is really pretty bad. Hank’s volume is whisper quiet, forcing you to turn up the volume – immediately followed by Nick who has his recording volume set so high that it’s distorting (and painful to listen to). I recommend you all download and listen to a few episodes if you haven’t already, to get a better idea of what the experience is like for your audience.

    Remember that the easier you are to listen to, the more people will actually listen, and share to their friends.

    OK, since I mean this as constructive criticism; here are a few suggestions for immediately improving your sound :

    1) For Nick (and I’m going to concentrate on him, not just because his sound is the worst; but because I think he’s the most entertaining) – first and foremost, lower your recording volume (couldn’t say exactly how much, but try 10-15% to begin with and adjust from there). Also, try to maintain about the distance a softball would occupy between your microphone and your mouth.

    You could try a microphone upgrade as well, an audio technica dynamic microphone (don’t use condenser mics – they capture all the background noise you don’t want) is pretty cheap and good quality too. Search Amazon for “Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone”, currently going for $79. Be sure to get the foam mic windscreen along with it, (and the scissor arm stand if you feel like being really fancy, but not necessary). Otherwise, keep it up kid.

    2) Hank- you seem to have the opposite of Nick’s problem. Your sound is very good, with a nice and warm vocal timbre (perfect for lengthy listening sessions). Only your volume is very quiet and sometimes ranges into the inaudible. I’m guessing that you are leaning away from your microphone when the volume goes very low? After a modest increase in your recording volume, all you need to do is work on your microphone technique. Once again, try to keep your mouth about a softball’s width away from the microphone.

    3) Last suggestion, I promise! There’s an old program floating around that matches the volume levels of each person speaking in a recording. It’s called The Levelator, and it’s free (but old and no longer being updated). Maybe give it a try and see if it helps out the mismatched volume levels? Here’s a link :
    http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator

    And with that, I bring my novella length effortpost to an end.

    Solid podcast dudes, keep going.

    Reply

  2. Sir Lord Baltimore December 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    You gents just keep getting better and better. I’ve really come to appreciate your discussions on all the long car rides that I have found myself on of late. So thanks.
    Really appreciate this weeks episode. Hadn’t seen Rambo First Blood since I was a wee lad on VHS. About a year ago got hit with a flu spell and at the suggestion of a friend re watched this film. Mostly just for the nostalgia factor. The striking thing that hits me most about the movies of this era (say 80-85), and this film in particular isn’t so much the film themselves as it is the backdrop of these films. Granted it they are fictitious but it is interesting from a 2017 perspective to see a small town portrayed that isn’t full of tweakers and meth heads. Where local business’s still operate and the tiny downtown isn’t mostly vacant with maybe a pawn shop and a liquor store as the only viable enterprise. I know it’s all Hollywood, but in order to have credulity at the time with audiences there had to be some authenticity in regards to these matters.

    If you fellows want suggestions for more movie reviews might I humbly suggest:
    Falling Down and Red Dawn.
    also perhaps a treatment of Thomas Chittum’s Civil War 2 and “The Camp of the Saints”
    Thanks for everything and get Lafond back on again.

    Reply

    1. Noted, and stay tuned.. Yes, the 1980s had a way of portraying a still functional America compared to today – ironic considering the tone of this movie.

      Reply

      1. Sir Lord Baltimore December 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        Its weird being old enough to remember the 80’s there was a palpable sense of depression and a nostalgia for what was…At least in the Rust Belt areas that my family inhabited. There was also certainly an optimistic air to life in some regards….Reagan?! But outsourcing had already be taking place since the 70’s and the white working class got decimated in the process. What people in the 80’s were nostalgic for was the 1950’s.

        Reply

  3. Another fantastic episode. Especially enjoyed your discussion about the US military, special forces, motivation for fighting, etc. There is a deep paradox in middle America in that the people at some level know that they are forgotten and even hated by the system yet there is still a deep reverence for the military and the USA in general. I would love to hear you guys talk with musonius Rufus of rebel yell, you seem to have a lot in common and similar styles (both of which I enjoy). He talked about this very same issue on one of his episodes.

    I also agree with Lord Baltimore about older movies. As a young guy, it is fascinating to me to watch movies set in the 70s and 80s. It’s a glimpse into a society millenials never got to experience. It’s mind boggling how much we have lost.

    Reply

    1. Musonius refers to white American men, particularly Southerners, as the janissaries of the American empire. That statement really struck me, especially considering he is a vet. It’s a fascinating topic. I am always interested in hearing from vets that have gone reactionary (there are many of them).

      With regards to Rambo, it’s kind of hard to translate it into a narrative today. As you say, 1970s-80s America was a lot different from today and the idea of an honor culture amongst local sheriffs has probably diminished.

      Reply

  4. Cop was a veteran too December 17, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    One thing I noticed that you guys didn’t mention is that the sheriff has three war medals, including a Purple Heart, in his office behind his desk (can be seen at about 1:03:50 in my rip, https://i.imgur.com/BXDHcQd.jpg).

    Reply

    1. Likely a nod to the already developing Boomer contingent at the time. Assuming the age the sheriff was probably either a WWII or a Korean War vet. The sheriff had a cushy job, got his respect already when he came home, and a stable lifestyle.

      Reply

  5. Thorgeir Lawspeaker December 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Very interesting podcast, as usual. The comment, toward the end when talking about the Army-Navy football game, about the existence of an “Army caste” was dead-on. Whether it matches up with traditional ideas about a warrior / kshatriya caste or not, that instinct to defend hearth and home runs more strongly in some families than in others, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were possible to identify a core of families that provide outsize shares of the NCOs and career officers in the combat branches of the services. The Chad Nationalists, if you will; men who sign up to fight partly because they like fighting and partly because they’ve got the protective instinct more strongly than others, even though the instinct then gets directed toward more janissary-type ends by the political class. (The same instinct sometimes also gets sublimated into police work; it’s tough being a born fighter in a pansy meritocracy like America, and everybody’s got to make a living.)

    I’d also speculate that the ethnic makeup of that caste is about a century behind immigration patterns. Very heavily old-Yankee (esp in Navy) and old-Southron (esp in Army) up to WWI, accepting of Irish and Germans by early 20th century, accepting of other Euros in our time, and we’ll see whether blacks and other nonwhites (as a group — individual exceptions do exist) can become anything but diversity enforcers in about 50 years, if the Multiculti Empire lasts that long.

    Anyway, that caste exists, it likely necessarily exists, and we’re going to need those guys on our side. Also probably better that that caste remains overwhelmingly “our people” rather than recent immigrant stock.

    Reply

  6. Hope is not a ‘made up’ place. And It gets plenty of snow.

    Reply

  7. really interesting point of view, it reminded me of a piece i had read a while ago, an analytical review of First Blood.
    I’ll leave it to you guys commonsensepost.net/2017/03/02/first-blood-as-an-allegory-of-ethno-nationalism-against-the-modern-western-state/

    Reply

  8. Regarding the ’80s talk in the comments. I was 7 when that decade started. Looking back, I realize that a lot of things were geared towards Boomers as they were reaching a stage when they were the demographic with the most disposable income. There were tons of Vietnam movies. There was a lot of 50s and 60s music nostalgia (Think Mac Tonight for McDonald’s and Uptown Girl, Keeping the Faith by Billy Joel). Back to the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married, the list is endless. Now I notice that a lot of things seem geared towards Gen Xers.

    Its pretty sad how much of our culture is dictated by the youthful tastes of whoever has the most money to spend.

    Also, who remembers Stallone as the thug on the subway that attacks Woody Allen in Bananas?

    Reply

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