Loving Drones

FILE - This Nov. 8, 2011 file photo shows a Predator B unmanned aircraft landing after a mission, at the Naval Air Station, i
FILE - This Nov. 8, 2011 file photo shows a Predator B unmanned aircraft landing after a mission, at the Naval Air Station, in Corpus Christi, Texas. At the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, becoming a fighter pilot is still a hotly coveted goal. But slowly, a culture change is taking hold. Initially snubbed as second-class pilot-wannabes, the airmen that remotely control America's arsenal of lethal drones are gaining stature and securing a permanent place in the Air Force. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Here's an unlikely capper to a half-caf, no-foam conversation among people with decades-long IMDB pages: "Yeah, those drones are pretty cool."

Everyone smiles and nods and avoids eye contact with the kid collecting signatures ten feet away. "Homeless children?" "Plastic in the ocean?" "Darfur?" Whatever the can't-possibly-oppose cause, kids are there everyday recruiting guilt on these left-wing American streets.

And maybe that explains this sudden, widespread affection for drones among getting-up-there show biz types. If there's a hawk in the marrow of every liberal, drones have become the above-the-line escape hatch, a place to valet park our conscience and finally let us enjoy a bit of American muscle. It sounds as faux as a pas can get but here in Hollywood, we just adore those drones.

None of us is old enough to ever have been in favor of any of America's military actions. But our parents loved, loved, loved their big war and we felt left out. Enlisting in the entertainment industry promised endless warfare but somehow, rescuing a script from turnaround, while nice, never left us feeling as clean about our battles as our forebears did.

Luckily, nothing's cleaner than drones: Instead of underprivileged kids fighting and dying, techies go to states full of undisclosed locations to drop bombs then get home at a reasonable hour. What a field day for the heat.

It's amazing how all this meshes with our aging sensibility. For us, drones are like on-line shopping: accomplishing stuff without leaving home or dealing with people. After all, thirty-whatever years of negotiating humanity on studio lots... it's enough already.

In addition, just as the entertainment industry demographically whisks us toward the oblivion of our own nostalgia, the drones remind us of how much we once liked liking what we shouldn't like. Did you know drones can hover over a target for 40 hours before refueling? Incredible! It's like a Prius you don't have to be seen driving. Only with wings. And Hellfire missiles.

All of which is not to say we're unaware of the moral hazards. Fleshlessly deleting strangers from 7,000 miles away is quite the moral hazard bayou. In Hollywood, we keep those downsides on deep background. But inevitably, someone with way too many "story by" credits, cites a study claiming that some of the joystick bombers wear flight gear while they work and often suffer PTSD comparable to soldiers on the ground.

Well, we respond, listen here: These PTSD sufferers still have their limbs. You didn't have to star in one war movie and get three call-backs on another to know that's a big step forward. And by the way, we read too: At least President Obama is human enough to demand final say-so over military drone attacks.

This discussion won't run long. It will zigzag to plastic bag bans or gay marriage or how police shot to death a young mountain lion that wandered into downtown Santa Monica. "We gentrify animals out of their habitat, they drift into ours and we blow them away? Really? Why don't we rise up and --"

We rise up and finish our coffee. But, as we disperse to reshoots and rewrites, there's a sense of sanity in how the fate of that breathtaking creature inspires in us more despairing fury than the dispatches from the rest of the world's daily heartbreak.

Think globally, rage locally. It's the only way to stay relevant and still love those drones.