What’s the Difference, Jed?

swayze sheen red dawnSteve Benen and DougJ give NewsBusters’ Tim Graham a hard time for noting that the Washington Post obituary for Patrick Swayze, who died overnight from pancreatic cancer, fails to give “Red Dawn” its due, quipping, “There are clearly no fortysomething Reaganites working in the Washington Post newsroom.”

I was prepared to chide Benen and DJ for failing to get a self-deprecating joke, titling the original draft of this post “A Wolverine Ate Their Sense of Humor,” until I clicked through and read Graham’s original.  Sadly, his irony must be too subtle for me as well, as he titles the post “WaPo Patrick Swayze Obit Gets to His Drag-Queen Movie Before ‘Red Dawn'” and begins “Here’s a sign the Washington Post is a liberal newspaper.”  Later, he observes,

“Red Dawn” was not a prestigious film, but it was a breakout lead role for Swayze, and a completely shocking product coming out of a Hollywood: a movie about American teens fighting a resistance against a Soviet invasion of the United States.

While I haven’t seen the movie since college, I do recall it being quite enjoyable, although not as much so as “Taps,” another kids-go-martial flick of the same era.  But it’s not the sort of thing a film critic is going to gush over.  Heck, they even give short shrift to my favorite Swayze movie, “Next of Kin,” for reasons I perfectly understand.

Regardless, Swayze made quite a few good movies and seemed like a pretty good fellow.  It’s a shame that he died so young.

FILED UNDER: Media, Obituaries, Popular Culture, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    I for one am shocked and appalled that so much time was devoted to “Ghost” while “Roadhouse” was barely mentioned. This clearly shows that the Post is biased in favor of the paranormal and simply hates practical philosophers…

  2. Rick Almeida says:

    James, I loved “Taps”!

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Since Red Dawn is getting a remake, it is arguably the most important of the movies he starred in.

  4. John Burgess says:

    I first came across ‘Red Dawn’ in a hotel room in Latakia, Syria, back in ’84 or ’85. The irony was not lost on me.

    I liked most of Swayze’s films, actually, though not the rom-coms so much. ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Road House,’ ‘To Foo Wong…,’ and let’s not forget his role in ‘Danny Darko!’

  5. odograph says:

    I think I’ve mentioned here that the movie works on an important “reversal.” It’s been a while for me too, but I think it’s the Cuban communist who says something like “we used to be liberators but became occupiers.”

    For that reason, the movie “works” for an Iraqi kid who puts himself in the Wolverine role, with another “reversed” force as occupiers.

    I mean, how prescient was it that the Wolverines set IEDs to kill Russian convoys? Hello?

    I’m shocked that some conservatives can still look at that movie and not see the irony.

  6. odograph says:

    BTW, this wasn’t to suggest that American “Wolverines” and Iraqi “Wolverines” have moral equivalence.

    The parallel is more basic than that. High school students, occupied by a foreign power, are not operating on that sophisticated a moral compass. It’s in the genes.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    odograph, I’ve heard the remake makes even more perplexing comparisons with recent events. The writer apparently wants to update the previous fear of Russian domination with post-9/11 fundamentalist Islam. But the USSR “conceivably” could have been an occupying power of the United States, as it has a large conventional army. Nobody is afraid that some Islamic power is going to occupy the United States; the fear is the Dark Knight scenario, where a small group can so undermine order and security that society breaks down. You don’t send the wolverines to take care of that.

  8. odograph says:

    Heh, could they still call it Red Dawn? Or do they forget what “red” meant?

  9. G.A.Phillips says:


  10. Herb says:

    And no mention of Steel Dawn? I’m not sure what Swayze rocked better in that one, the sword or the beard. Both were pretty awesome.

  11. Mithras says:

    Nobody is afraid that some Islamic power is going to occupy the United States; the fear is the Dark Knight scenario, where a small group can so undermine order and security that society breaks down.

    Is that the fear? I always wondered what conservatives were wetting the bed over.

    Also, did anyone ever have a realistic fear that a foreign power like the USSR could take and hold territory in the continental US? I mean, just think of what their supply lines would look like.

  12. anjin-san says:

    Nobody is afraid that some Islamic power is going to occupy the United States

    Clearly, you have not met bithead.

    But on to a worthwhile subject, Road House is my favorite guilty pleasure movie. Swayze did a lot of good work, (check out “The Beast”) and it is indeed a shame that he died so young.