Pirates of the Carribean as Political Commentary

Have you gone to see the New Pirates of the Caribbean movie yet? No? well if you want to see a scene bashing the Bush administration that’s about a subtle as rusty claw hammer, then this is your flick.

–Movie SPOILERS and political commentary below–


You were warned…. spoilers here….


The scene in question is the opening of the film. Lord Cutler Becket, which you may remember form the last film is the representative of the East India Trading Company, and now with control over Davy Jones, has complete control over the Caribbean.

And we see the result of that control personified as a long line or prisoners being slowly marched to the gallows. The gallows itself is a large, six person at a time monstrosity. And people are being hanged non stop.

Over this visual, a guard is reading a proclomation, that due to the impact of Piracy, and the Company’s fight against it, Lord Beckett has "temporarily" suspended the following rights:

  • The Right to Legal Counsel
  • The Right to a trial of your peers
  • The Right of Haebeus Corpus

and so on.

The scene ends with the hanging of a young child, who is singing a pirate song. All witnessed by Lord Beckett himself.


I was surprised to say the least. This was a pretty strong scene for a film aimed at children, it never explicitly shows anything scary, but the imagery is haunting enough. But I watched this with no doubt in my mind that this was an explicit image of our curent government and a shout out to the future under the Military Commisions Act. It’s not even subtle.

You have a mousy looking administarator [Beckett/Bush] under the direction of a massive corporation [East India Trading/Halliburton] using a percieved threat [Piracy/Terrorism] to justify the removal of individual rights.

That in and of itself isn’t that shocking, but the fact that this scene is in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, and that it will be watched on video over and over for years makes it extraordinary.

When the Military Commisions act was signed, no one made a peep outside of the political geek class, because no one understood, or could visualize the impact of the loss of those rights. It was all some etherial issue, and to most folks they just can’t make that kind of leap or connection on their own.

Well, this made it for them. If you see this, you will remember it. And I will bet that the kids that watch this movie over and over will have this idea swimming in the back of their heads for a long time. The visualization of the loss of rights will be more easily made for them because of this.

I expect to see something like this in "V for Vendatta" or something by Michael Moore, but this was a surprise. And if it plants the seeds in some impressionable minds that these kind of losses have consequences, then that’s a good thing. IMHO.