In the late 90’s the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Clothing and Textiles (C&T), Paul Zebrowski, developed a motto for the directorate. As you may recall, C&T is responsible for purchasing all the military uniforms and accessories for the armed forces, so Paul’s motto, “Keeping America’s Warfighter Dressed To Kill”, incorporated a nice play on words.
I found it amusing, but I was especially amused when we bought some custom mouse pads with the motto printed on them and distributed them to all the C&T employees. Some people were so upset at the words, that they taped over them.
Someone else who was not amused when he saw the motto on our web site was an Under Secretary of Defense who paid us a visit one day. He insisted that it be removed immediately because it was not reflective of current Defense Department policy, or something like that.
I was reminded of this little brouhaha the other day when I re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s 1963 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
There is a scene about two thirds of the way through where U.S. forces are battling other U.S. forces, and the sign featured prominently in the frame reads “Peace Is Our Profession”.
I remember seeing Dr. Strangelove back in 1964 (at the Neptune Theatre, of course), and although I liked it very much, there were some aspects of it that flew right over my head.
For example, when General Jack D. Ripper, the psycho who without provocation launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, talked about the loss of his “precious bodily fluids”, his “life essence”, and his “profound sense of fatigue” that came over him during the physical act of love, I didn’t realize that he meant he was impotent. For the record, he believed that fluoridation, which led to the loss of sаid “precious bodily fluids”, was a “Commie” plot to destroy the United States. That seemed like such a whacko idea at the time, but of course, it pales in comparison to the truly whacko ideas that modern Republicans believe.
Anyway Dr. Strangelove still packs a lot of punch; it ranks as number three on the list of best movie comedies.
Folks usually single out the three roles that Peter Sellers portrayed, and he is truly remarkable, but I’ve always loved George C. Scott’s “Buck” Turgidson; it’s so unusual to see him in a comic role and he makes the most of it (although supposedly he was unhappy with his performance as he felt Kubrick egged him on to overact and then used those versions in the final edit rather than his more subdued initial versions).
Dr. Stranglove is based on the book Red Alert by Peter George (written under the pseudonym Peter Bryant), which was a genuine thriller, but when Kubrick and George started working on the film adaptation, Kubrick decided to turn it into a comic satire, and George readily agreed. Kubrick largely filmed it as a real geopolitical thriller with the end of the world in the balance, but it only takes a little twist here and there to turn it into a hilarious satire. With names like Jack D. Ripper, Major “King” Kong, and (my favorite) Colonel “Bat” Guano, how could it not be?
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