Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the film The Hurt Locker, claiming that screenwriter Mark Boal based the film's central character on him after Boal was embedded in Sarver's bomb squad unit in Iraq. I can't speak to the overall merits of the case, but one claim rings particularly hollow. The Detroit News reports:
Sarver said the very title of the movie was a phrase he coined in Iraq, and that Boal asked its meaning after hearing him use it. Boal has since copyrighted the phrase, Fieger said.
Sarver explained today that the term is akin to Davy Jones Locker, where legend says drowned sailors are kept.
"It's just a horrible place you go when you mess up," Sarver said. "It's a mental state. A place that's full of pain and hurt."
Unfortunately for Sarver, (in the) hurt locker is military slang dating back to 1966, as a quick trip to Google News Archive readily shows. I give the full history of the expression in my latest Word Routes column on the Visual Thesaurus. Check it out.
[Update: For more on the supposed "copyright" of the phrase, see Dave Wilton's post on Wordorigins.org.]