Che

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality… We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
— Ernesto “Che” Guevara

I spent four and a half hours today watching Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara.

It was a visually intriguing and well shot film. Conceptually, however, it painted him as a machine gun toting saint.

I’m not knocking Che Guevara, mind you. I don’t agree that force is necessary to bring about revolution, but I understand the frustration of looking at the world around you and wanting to make a difference.

I think that Che made a mistake in that, as that say, “fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.” The idea that you are going to somehow create a transition to a classless society with a military action, one of the most regimented structures ever conceived of, is simply naive.

The lifeblood of a revolution is humanity. Not only the raw effort of carrying it forward, but the inspiration and drive as well. Ignoring the effects that the structure of the effort has on the people involved will almost certainly doom it to failure. Violent revolution not only selects those comfortable in a military hierarchy and with a disregard for life for success in the organization, it shapes those without those qualities to have them.

It also has to make recruiting a bitch. It’s just a bad idea all around.

What would have been awesome out of Soderbergh’s film would be an examination of terrorism. After all, Che was one of the pioneers of modern asymmetrical warfare. He wrote:

We must carry the war into every corner the enemy happens to carry it: to his home, to his centers of entertainment; a total war. It is necessary to prevent him from having a moment of peace, a quiet moment outside his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever he may be, make him feel like a cornered beast wherever he may move.

This was not the man or the movement that the film portrayed. They showed Che helping the sick, teaching the uneducated, respecting his enemies and chastising those who would injure others. The only atrocities committed in the revolution of the film were either by the mean ol’ army or people that ran out of the revolution. They didn’t show the man who wrote to his mother:

I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am all the contrary of a Christ… I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.

One of the more interesting parts to the evening was a discussion that was held by FLICX after the show. There was a guy there whose uncle was the senior adviser for Fulgencio Batista who Castro overthrew. His uncle stayed in the country through the revolution and joined Castro’s government. Eventually though, on the logic that a traitor can never be reformed, he was executed by Che Guevara on Castro’s order.

Real heroes are complex and I think Soderbergh missed that.

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