If you are as old as you feel, then I am one of those things that archaeologists write about at great length. But rather than get into that, I want to talk about something that was briefly talked about during a prolonged conversation in my youth. I believe I was somewhere between the ages of fourteen and seventeen at this time. I do not remember exactly what segment of the year it was, but some people that I met during one trip into central Sydney came with me on the ride back. In order to understand the nature of conversation, you have to understand a bit about the Sydney to Parramatta (and beyond) route.
Sydney is easily the biggest place in the country called Australia. Although it stretches out from a “central” business district on the coast in Northern, Southern, and especially Western directions, the West is by far the longest arm, with growing branches so long that traveling from the Westmost point of Sydney to the central district by private car can take upwards of three hours. A journey by express route train from Sydney to Parramatta is approximately thirty minutes. Depending on conditions such as passenger pick-up times, a train that stops at more stations in order to pick up passengers along the lesser-visited areas generally doubles that time. So conversations along the Sydney to Pendle Hill route tend to go on for a while. Now, this was back in the days when bulletin board systems (BBSes) were just beginning to lose users to the Internet as it existed then. Companies like CompuServe and America Online (or Assholes Online as I liked to call them then) were being hailed as the next big thing in investment terms. Given that I do not believe I had even turned eighteen or nineteen when Assholes Online folded and declared bankruptcy, you can imagine how laughable that all looks to me now. But at some point in the conversation, talk turned to certain users of the BBS we knew one another from, and the tendency of certain users to issue verbal threats on forums or in real-time chat like they were going out of fashion. Now, one of the participants in this conversation was a bit older than the rest of us, and I did not have any problem believing his claim that he worked as a bouncer or security guard. He, not surprisingly, was the one that used the words that we are going to talk about here today: Rambo Syndrome.
In order to understand what Rambo Syndrome is, one needs to understand what Rambo is. In 1972, an author by the name of David Morrell wrote a novel called First Blood. First Blood as a novel is essentially a story that Morrell based upon the experiences that students in the tertiary courses in English that he taught reported to him. These students, the story goes, had served in the Vietnam war. In the novel, a returned soldier named John Rambo picks a fight with a sheriff in a small town, a fight that ends in the deaths of both Rambo and said sheriff. The idea being that the war has scarred Rambo to the point where he simply wants to die in battle rather than live to see another day. Unfortunately, by the time First Blood was made into a film, the John Rambo character became something so incredibly different that one wonders if Morrell recognises the character he created in the onscreen version of Rambo at all.
One reason for this is because of the absurd lengths to which the films, especially the middle two, go to make Rambo a symbolic expression of America’s might. The first film is an above-average stalker-thriller film in which Rambo uses his skills as a special forces soldier to get the better of small town policemen who take exception to him. Films two and three… I will sum this up with a quote from my male parent that I think puts it best. In order to have that many people shoot at you with automatic weapons and not be hit whilst you pick them off one by one, you would need to build a brick wall around yourself with a peephole to poke your gun out of, and selectively pop shots at them as they return fire. And even then, do not bet on it. The Dead Kennedys even have a song about the film version of John Rambo, titled Rambozo The Clown. If you go to read these lyrics, and have not seen any of the Rambo films, then I can tell you that where films two and three are concerned (and to a lesser extent the first one), they are dead on.
With the impossibility of the killing methods shown in the films, and the general “war is fun” culture in the media of the 1980s that the second and third Rambo films represent, it should be fairly easy to guess now what the expression Rambo Syndrome really means. I look around, particularly at comments made on boards like the CNN message board with regard to the murder of Trayvon Martin. This link will take you to a post commenting about the content of some of the comments on the CNN board. What you see in these comments is an acute case of Rambo syndrome. As I commented on Jamie’s post regarding the matter, the people who have posted the commentaries that offend her so greatly are all suffering an acute case of Rambo Syndrome. Behind their keyboards, bullets bounce off them and explosive shells harmlessly explode with just the right burst pattern to miss them completely. As I said in one part of my comments, however, get these clowns in a parade wearing the same kind of sign that Jeremy Irons‘ character made Bruce Willis‘ wear in a crucial scene from Die Hard With A Vengeance, with an armed force pressing them to keep marching through Harlem or Brooklyn, and you would also need a sanitation team following the pusher team (as I am inclined to call it) in order to clean up the resulting mess.
Rambo Syndrome in all of its forms has a few causes, most of which are easily discernable. In the competition that we call survival, appearing to be weak, irrespective of the reason, does not promote success. Even if you only appear to be weak, others will act upon it, coming after you because you appear to be easy prey to them. So creatures from the cobra to the frilled-neck lizard to the Homo Sapien all have an instinctive desire to appear much stronger than they really are. This is especially true of Homo Sapiens who have experienced abuse and/or debasement as a result of not being optimally strong in the past. When a Human has had a gun held to their head or witnessed someone holding a gun to a loved one’s head, an instinctive response is to obtain and learn to use a gun for “next time”. Beating one’s chest and telling people how one is going to tear their heads off and shove them where the sun does not shine is another instinctive response.
The thing is, when any creature from the Scorpion to the Whale picks a fight, one has to be careful about whom they are picking it with. It is one thing if you box a little and can win a few three-rounders to use your fists in response to an attempt to attack you for money. That is a perfectly natural response and one that should even be encouraged. But when you pick fights with large groups of people over the Internet, as is so often the case with people exhibiting Rambo Syndrome, you just never know when you might be talking to a seventh-dan black belt who regularly works as security at rock and roll concerts. Common sense tells most people who have been in hairy situations that the extent to which people who meet the description talk up their prowess in hand to hand combat is a lot lower because, frankly, once you have attained black belt status, you really do not need to prove anything further.
Powell Aspies tend to be unique in this situation. Although Powell Aspies like myself often only have a tenuous grip on their temper at the best of times, a lot of us as we grow older try to refine our sense of which fights we should pick and how best to win them. But the people who are most inclined to post comments like the offending ones mentioned in the journal entry I have linked tend to not be on the autistic spectrum. It is a matter of logic. Contrary to what a certain moron I will not glorify by mentioning here would like you to believe, being autistic means that more of everything, whether it be sight, sound, smell, or even the feelings of others, is coming in. The “monkeysphere” (more on this in another entry) of an autistic adult tends to be larger than that of any other adult of comparable age. This is not to say that there is absolutely no racism, sexism, or other -isms among the autistic. We all, after all, reflect what we have learned from those who are around us throughout or lives. But this is belabouring a point that I think I have already made enough times already.
So for now, I will bring my discourse concerning the diagnostic label of Rambo Syndrome, its symptomology, and its causes, to a close. If you read this far, thank you. If you have learned from it, thank you. If you intend to put what you have learned from it into practice in future, thank you even more.
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