ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Black Hawk Down (2001), R
Analysis Date: January 18, 2002
CAP Score: 48
CAP Influence Density: 2.65

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

BLACK HAWK DOWN (R) -- disturbingly efficient filmmaker's account of the vile and extremely brutal horrors of military combat.

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Director(s): Ridley Scott
Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer, Branko Lustig, Terry Needham, Chad Oman, Ridley Scott, Mike Stenson, Simon West
Written by/Screenplay: Mark Bowden (book), Ken Nolan, Steven Zaillian
Cinematography/Camera: Slavomir Idziak
Music: Hans Zimmer, Mel Wesson, Hans Zimmer
Editing: Pietro Scalia

There was no John Wayne or Kirk Douglas in Black Hawk Down. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas are from a time when respect for others and honor of command structure meant something. My WWII veteran dad told me of a time when duty and compliance with orders were valuable and undoubtedly led to rich and deep personal self respect and worth: of the realization that no leader can be a good leader without good followers. Now, "subordinate" personnel (in the movies anyway) appear to each be a commander on his own mission with his own interests paramount and team dynamics and willingness to serve being "necessary evils": that their mission supports or conflicts with command decisions is coincidental. Whatever happened to the courage and strength to be a follower? Whatever happened to military personnel serving as a well-tuned unit rather than a collection of individuals wearing the same insignia? Portrayal of rightful and life-saving subordination was occasionally there in Black Hawk Down in pieces and parts, but it seemed such protocol was inserted as a duty or obligation to the unavoidable viewers who honored such integrity as they served God and country in uniform. I somehow doubt that the few but present portrayals of "little boys shooting guns" attitudes in Black Hawk Down was accurate to the attitudes of the professional warriors who were actually there.

Black Hawk Down is not a political movie nor does it try to explain our involvement in the Somalian civil war beyond Major General William Garrison's (Sam Shepard) disastrous attempts to take the Somalian leader, Mohamed Farrah Aidid and a few of his key aides who controlled Mogadishu out of commission. Eighteen of our servicemen and well over 1000 Somali men, women and children have "seen the end of war" [Plato] by dying in it. The quote from Plato at the opening of the movie, "Only the dead have seen the end of war", sets the stage for this well-constructed and disturbingly efficient filmmaker's account of the vile and extremely brutal horrors of military combat operations in this insertion and extraction campaign. However accurate the movie is in portraying the coldness and evil brutality of what happened in Mogadishu, the opportunity for this entertainment to desensitize the viewer to violence is real.

Much of Black Hawk Down was similar to the moulage in Saving Private Ryan (SPR) including a warrior blown in half at the waist and field surgery to clamp a femoral (hip/thigh) artery by the medic shoving his hand into the meat of the wounded soldier to fetch the retracted severed artery. And the victim is alive without anesthesia. Even the cinematography that sometimes resembled the quality of a shaky hand-held camcorder and the special camera filters to flatten color to mimic the dirty and messy business of war did not reduce the impact of this film. But what made this film stand out over the other high-tech war movies was the portrayal of chaos and disorder: the embarrassing failure of the campaign.

On October 3, 1993 General Garrison ordered the Army Rangers into Mogadishu with Aidid and his aides as the objective. Well-equipped and battle-ready Somalians were not expected. Soon, a Black Hawk helicopter is down along with its crew. The creed of the Rangers, "Leave no man behind" dictated that rescue operations be launched to fetch the downed men. Soon after that, the well-equipped Somalia militia downed another Black Hawk chopper and its crew now need rescue. Leave no man behind. Even if it costs the lives of more men. I guess if I were one of the chopper crewmen I would want my buddies to try and rescue me. But then, if two or three of them were killed in the attempt, how would I then feel? War is a messy and ugly business.

Granted this movie is rated R, but that does not stop underage attendance. As I sat waiting for the movie to start, I saw one pair of parents come walking down the aisle with an eight or so year old boy prancing in front of them and a toddler in dad's arms. A couple ten year olds were cutting up in the front rows ... no parents in sight. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard parents say "If I had only known..."

As expected of a movie emulating war the greatest matters of inappropriate programming were violence, gore and foul language. Maybe lots of foul language is typical in war, but that does not excuse it as entertainment [Col. 3:8]. Violence and gore are certainly realities of war, but what does that say about us if we enjoy them as entertainment [Phil. 4:8, Ps. 101:3]?


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
  • Ps. 101:3 I will set [shiyth {sheeth}: to put, set, lay (hand upon), station, appoint, fix, set mind to] before my eyes no vile [beliya`al {bel-e-yah'-al}; wicked, ungodly, evil, naughty] thing.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]

    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Black Hawk Down (2001) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • dead mummified bodies
  • many, many warfare/battle deaths by gunfire repeatedly, some extremely graphic some not so graphic, some sadistic
  • imagery of genocide
  • gunfire threat to kill in comedy
  • reckless gunfire
  • gunfire to disable
  • many battle sequences
  • using women and children as shields
  • graphic imagery of human mutilation
  • graphic death of father by son's gunfire
  • multiple replays of gore and violence
  • many graphic injuries/deaths with much gore
  • battle frenzy
  • spewing blood
  • extremely graphic field surgery
  • dozens killed in seconds
  • father carrying dead son

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 36 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • 31 uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • insolence in combat

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • pin-up still photos
  • vulgar gestures

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • seven uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and two without

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • multiple murders by gunfire
  • brutal murder of an unarmed soldier

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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