The plaintive adumbrations of utopian poesy, not unmixed with a stern if implicit adjuration to reform (especially by rejecting the Christian Science metaphysics of the Drug War, which, last time I checked, God himself said that his creation was good as regards both flora AND fauna, thank you very much)

June 2014

Denzel as Terrorist in John Q

Sundog, Maize 12, 2014

Author reveals the untenable philosophical message of the movie John Q. and offers an alternative ending in which John's own son takes his father to task for acting immorally.

Despite all the on-cue cheering from the crowd, John Q is a piece of irresponsible agitprop (especially for a movie released in 2002, one year after 9/11) that sanctions vengeance, mob rule and anarchy.

Denzel Washington was a terrorist in John Q

Denzel Washington as Terrorist in John Q

How many patient and law-abiding parents did John Q leap-frog in order to get immediate care for HIS offspring? (Talk about the 'selfish gene'!) Of course, writer James Kearns makes it all work out for the best -- to the point that the hospital actually seems to run better when it's being lorded over by a hothead with a gun. But then Kearns had improbably staffed the hospital with a fiendish administrator who was a cross between Eva Braun and Anne Robinson of the Weakest Link -- for which the script writer, incidentally, owes an apology to the vast majority of hospital administrators who (agitprop notwithstanding) actually have a heart -- and are forced to work within restraints that are for the overall benefit of everybody and shouldn't be subject to veto by any angry parent with a firearm.

John Q Memorial Hospital: First gun, first served

I could tolerate this film if John Q had shown any repentance at all, ever -- but far from it, he rides off into the sunset (to an incredibly short stint in the pokey) with a self-satisfied smirk on his face -- apparently totally uninterested in the fate of the sniper whom he gratuitously sucker punched so hard as to likely cause internal bleeding that could easily lead to death in real life -- possibly depriving that sniper's son of a father. But then John Q has made it clear all along that he's not interested in "sons" in the abstract: he just cares about his own son, thank you very much.

If I could have rewritten the movie, I would have ended it with the grown Mike (now enrolled in college) chastising his father as follows:

Mike: "Dad, I'm grateful for you saving my life, but..."
Dad: "But what, son?"
Mike: "Well, it's just that I've been reading Immanuel Kant in philosophy class and...."
Dad: "You've been reading WHAT?"
Mike: "And I fail to see how your actions square with the Categorical Imperative."
Dad: "Look, you got a new heart son: be happy."
Mike: (after a moment of frustrated silence) "Dad, have you ever even HEARD of the word 'ignoble'???"
Dad: "Enough with the 50-cent words, son. Now how are you fixed for money? I'm sure that college expenses add up."
Mike: "I'm doing fine, Dad."
Dad: "Are you sure?"
Mike: "I'm sure."
Dad: "'Cause just say the word, and I'll take hostages at the nearest bank until they loan you the necessary do-re-mi."
Mike: "Dad, I'm an adult now: I can live my OWN life, thanks."
Dad: "You're right, son: If the bank needs robbing, I'm sure you know how to fend for yourself."
Mike: "Dad!"
Dad: "After all, you learned from an expert -- if I do say so myself."


What have we learned?

Questions for further discussion

John Q Logic Problems

John Q recently had a very busy week. Each day he had a different grievance with society that called for immediate resolution through the medium of threats and intimidation. Using only the info found below, can you determine the nature of each grievance, the threats he made to resolve it, the weapon that he used to back up his threat, and the ridiculously short sentence that he ultimately received in court for the wrong-doing in question?

1) It was not on Wednesday that John Q threatened the Food Store manager with a knife.

2) John Q threatened the clinic nurse (but not with a gun) the day after he threatened the bank guard (but not with a canister of the Ebola virus).

3) John Q served no time for threatening the bureaucrat with a gun but served a full 4 days for the threat carried out on Thursday.

4) John Q threatened the sharpshooter with either a tactical nuclear weapon or a bottle of weapons-grade anthrax.

5) The bureaucrat was not threatened with a gun.

6) The anthrax was put to work the day before the gun was used.

7) John Q got a tougher sentence for the threat using the tactical nuke than he did for the Ebola threat, which was tougher than the sentence for the Anthrax threat (which was not made on Tuesday).

8) The manager was not threatened on Friday and the bureaucrat was not threatened on Monday or Wednesday.

Keyword Prayer to Father Google

Dear All-Powerful Google,

We come before you today recognizing that we are nothing without you. We therefore beseech visibility for this our philosophically minded post about the movie called John Q Public that was released in 2002 (the movie I mean, not the post) starring Denzel Washington and written by James Kearns. We remind you that the producer was a certain Nick Cassavetes, whom, as you may recall, later went on to perpetrate 'The Astronaut's Wife' and 'Hangover Part II'. Forgive both Nick and James for implausibly casting the otherwise lovely Larissa Laskin as a recalcitrant Nazi nurse (Ellen Klein, a sort of Irish Dr. Mengele), when all the hospital staff, Ellen included, were really trying to do was give the best possible shake to every single patient, not just those who, in the vehemence of their familial discomfiture, were packing heat. And finally, O Google, remind Herr Kearns, his obvious Marxist leanings notwithstanding, that it is not yet a crime in America to enjoy a round of golf of a weekend, even if one has committed the faux pas of being a middle-upper-class white bureaucrat who is loath to drop everything to attend to the needs of one solitary patient, never mind how much of a hip persona that he might thereby acquire in the eyes of the rabble that are surrounding the grounds of his health care employer at that very moment, irresponsibly protesting in favor of the untenable doctrine that "might makes right," and that the mere possession of a Saturday Night Special allows a distraught father to leap-frog the often equally pressing medical needs of his grieving patriarchal counterparts -- let alone to race off actually smirking about his crime after getting a ridiculously short sentence from a judge, never mind the fact that John has, in the process of his armed moral showboating, probably consigned a 100% law-abiding fellow citizen (who no doubt ALSO had a son) to a painful life in a wheelchair.


UPDATE Editor's Note: March 20, 2022

Psst! Between you and me, the author is now in favor of universal health care. Can you imagine? I say this lest you conclude from the above observations that he is a straight-up conservative. That said, he still harbors pretty much the self-same ethical misgivings about the propriety of John Q's gun-toting protest that he scrupled over eight years ago when he first consigned his thoughts to paper (and/or to the digital equivalent thereof). One therefore has to deeply respect this author of ours, and pray fervently that he will continue to bless us with his sometimes unpopular yet apparently crucial home truths what will lead us to peace, love and justice, absent all the grand-standing hoo-hah of the unprincipled progressives, who would throw out the baby of common sense with the bath water of injustice. For make no mistake: Emerson was wrong. Reform is not good in and of itself, but only insofar as it is PRINCIPLED reform.

Am I right or am I right? Or rather, is Brian right or is Brian right? (I'm thinking he's right, me.)

denzel washington, john q, hospitals, health care, terrorism, james kearns

Akhenaten -- Another Interview with Greatness -- Bombshell: Webmaster Insists that Everybody Must Get Stoned -- Buoyancy: Review by the Moviegoer of the United States of America -- Dear Lance Morrow -- Denzel as Terrorist in John Q -- Don't Read This -- First Lab-Grown Hamburger Financed by Brian Quass -- How the DEA Determines if Your Relgious Beliefs are Real -- Human Beings Ain't Jack S--- -- Merry Christmas 2021 -- Minnie and Me -- More things that Dr. Fauci will and will not be doing now that he's been vaccinated -- Pipe Dream or the Next Big Thing: You be the judge -- Portrait of the artist as a young witch -- Psst! This post is for artists only! -- The Drug Problem is a Social Creation -- The Man of Mode by George Etherege -- The State v. Homo sapiens -- The Theory of Aesthetic Relativity -- The Turing Test Bias -- The Visit -- Thoughts about Cultural Geography, dawg -- Three Arguments Against Political Correctness in Academia -- Why Zero Tolerance is Bullshit -- Willie Who? --


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