Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I cried when Hector Williams Died

It must be time of life or just being low with the British economy but i shed a tear from watching the death of Hector Williams MD in The Unit CBS TV series about US Special Forces. Strange but I love the Unit just like as a child I bought into Tarzan. This is even though I know the deal here. One thing US producers do very effectively is to create heroic myths about their institutions especially when they are at risk of disgrace. Follow this:

CSI is response to the disgrace of crime labs exposed in the OJ Simpson's murder Trial
NYPD Blue responded to the shot on Amhadu Diallo and Beatdown of Mr Louima
West Wing dealt with the scandal of Monica Lewinsky
24 is a platform for justification of War on Terror and Homeland Security

These are some illustration of how the nation renews its institutions and creates an heroic narrative that it not only feeds to its people but also sold to the world. Helped always by high production values, engaging stories and fun escapism. So even though The Unit shot and killed an unarmed Lebanese kid, i sympathised with Hector Williams shot in the neck after saving the life of his comrade. In retrospect I think of the Nigerian soldiers that died in Darfur recently or the hundreds that gave their lives for Sierra Leone and Liberia. I am sure there were no pictures in the newspapers, no heroic headlines, not even Nollywood footnotes. Their names barely uttered in public and known only to grieving family and friends. This the much maligned Nigerian Army, school of Coup Plotters and pillaging despots. What is more heroic than fighting to protect another nation from falling apart?

On a similar point this week the Nigerian government put forward to the House of Assembly a request to write off $14 million of Liberia's debt to Nigeria. It is proposed as our contribution towards helping the country get back on its feet. Is that is heroic or what!


CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

Hmnnn: film as a subliminal instrument of keeping a people uninformed...

olu said...

Oga mi

Great post,that poses some questions.
Why do we not respect and promote our institutions.
Why have they lost credibility when a number of these institutions employ people serving their fellow citizens who sometimes sacrifice their lives for the country.
Do we lack a strong sense of service - is that why these guys are not seen as heroes?
Or is a case that our elite are busy with accumulating wealth for themselves that the thankless tasks of creating long term civic institutions is conveniently ignored!
Your blog as usual leaves much for one to ponder.
Keep sharing your thoughts


Onibudo said...

It is not just the elite but all of us impaired in our ability to see with integral vision. Life is really about the stories told. Oga mi it is our time to teall our stories that resonate so that future generation can truly see not just the villains but celebrate the heroes.

svn said...

Emotional moments in those episodes for sure. But I would like to suggest that the reason you felt sad when the character died was that you saw more than just a US soldier. In fact, I'd go as far as saying him being a US soldier is irrelevant.

On the show, you see these guys, get to know their personalities, get to know what kind of people they are, and in some cases you end up liking them. You get attached to the characters, so when they die, you feel a certain amount of loss.

Anyway, I shed a tear too, it was great drama and Williams was a great character, the kind you get attached to.

Onibudo said...

svn you are quite on point which is my gripe that producers in the US are exceptional at renewing institutions and creating icons from their public servants. they do it as you said by humanising them and creating a bond with the viewing public. From one The Unit fan to another keep watching.