When one of my favorites blogs, The House Next Door, began the Summer of '85 series of posts and asked for submissions, I decided to give it a try. I looked up a list of movies that had come out that summer to see if any were ones I could write about, and lo and behold, many were major films of my childhood. (One, Pumping Iron 2, was directed by George Butler, who lives a couple towns over from me and once took my father hunting with Arnold Schwartzenegger, or so my father claimed.)
Though I could have chosen many of the summer of '85's films to write about, one was so obvious I couldn't ignore it -- Rambo: First Blood Part II. I emailed House editor Keith Uhlich, and he said go for it.
I thought I might write 800 words or so. It got a bit longer than that. Despite the current length, the essay feels bare bones to me -- there's a lot more to say about Reagan and Rambo, about gender and masculinity, and about all four Rambo films together, because they're each quite different (First Blood is I think unquestionably the best film in terms of what most reasonable people think of as quality, and it remains utterly heartbreaking for me every time I watch it, but parts II and III are much more enjoyable, since they're closer to being superhero epics. The recent fourth part, just called Rambo, I've only watched once so far, but it didn't really do much for me -- Rambo beyond the 1980s just seems ... sad. Son of Rambow accomplished more.)
It's a thrill to see my byline on a site I read all the time and respect immensely, and I'm particularly pleased that I could appear there with this essay, which for obvious reasons for anybody who reads it means a lot to me -- it's the most personal thing I've published since the first Strange Horizons column I wrote after my father's death, a column that is also about my father and film, and mentions Rambo.
And now, for you loyal Mumpsimus readers, a special photo to accompany the essay -- this is me holding the MP5 I mention in the essay ... while wearing a Small Beer Press T-Shirt: