In the film Blood Diamond, journalist Maddy Bowen and smuggler Danny Archer have a conversation:

M: Hi. I'm Maddy Bowen.
D: How about you dance with me?
M: No, I don't dance.
D: Neither do I. Come on.
M: So, Danny...
D: Archer.
M: Archer. When did you first start moving stones? Was it Angola? Then you did the whole mercenary thing. Was that fun? So, what are you? Nihilist? Opportunist?
D: Maybe I wasn't breast-fed as a child, huh?
M: You think I haven't met people like you before?
D: I think you get off on people like me.
M: You think?
D: When did you first start working for Van De Kaap?
M: Christ, you never stop, do you?

The Free Dictionary defines the verb breastfeed as

To feed (a baby) mother's milk from the breast; suckle.

But I don't see the relevancy it has with the rest of the dialogue. What does "Maybe I wasn't breast-fed as a child" mean in this context?

Full transcript: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=blood-diamond

  • 1
    This question is off-topic because it is not about English. You would have the exact same question if it were translated word-for-word into any other language. – RegDwigнt Aug 8 '15 at 14:41
  • @RegDwigнt Although it is easy enough to look up the term "breast feeding" the OP is a cultural-based question. An Italian would not normally use this expression or "pseudo excuse". We can be pretty sure that the protagonist is not speaking literally here, if he were the dialogue would make little sense. This post didn't deserve to be closed so hastily. – Mari-Lou A Aug 8 '15 at 20:36
  • If the OP wishes to reopen the question, which is a valid one, may I suggest that he include the definition of "breast feeding" or "to be breastfed", and then ask why the protagonist uses this particular expression. The OP could also ask whether this retort is popular in the US, or something which the author created on the spot. The OP could also ask users for more advice on meta, the majority of folk are helpful and courteous. – Mari-Lou A Aug 8 '15 at 20:43

Breastfeeding has been linked in scientific studies to having a higher IQ and better immunity. As a result, in refined circles, it is considered the correct way to feed an infant.

In this context, as a response to a series of probing questions about his sordid past, it would mean: "So, you don't think I have the perfect genteel background, do you?", implying that his questioner is being overly judgmental from a position of privilege.

Later in the script, this is called out as hypocrisy on the part of the beneficiaries of the dirty work: "Dreamy American girls who all want a storybook wedding and a big, shiny rock"


I don't know this movie, or the idiom, but the meaning is clear:

Maddy asks

When did you first start moving stones? Was it Angola? Then you did the whole mercenary thing. Was that fun? So, what are you? Nihilist? Opportunist?

"moving stones" in context with Angola clearly means smuggling diamonds. Both this and being a mercenary are lucrative but dangerous professions.

Therefore when Danny answers

D: Maybe I wasn't breast-fed as a child, huh?

He is implying he had to learn to look after himself from a very young age.

This may or may not be true, but it is certainly the impression he wants to give: i.e. he is a tough guy who has made his own way in the world. He also tries to avoid giving too much away (or to appear mysterious) by saying "maybe." Also, as ecc says, his evasive answer implies "don't judge me."

The breast-fed part may be purely figurative.

  • Care to explain the downvote? What's the point of downvoting if you don't say what's wrong? – Level River St Aug 8 '15 at 20:21

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