Friday, January 26, 2007

The Silver Screen

Consider a world where you can lose your pants as long as you don't lose face. Then look around you. The War on Terror "largely does not exist" for Hollywood, argues Andrew Klavan, because the idea of good American guys hunting down foreign bad guys is just not cool -- it sounds bigoted. In the LA Times Klavan writes:

In order to honestly dramatize the simple truth about this existential struggle, you have to depict right-minded Americans — some of whom may be white and male and Christian — hunting down and killing dark-skinned villains of a false and wicked creed. That's what's happening, on a good day anyway, so that's what you'd have to show.

Moviemakers are reluctant to do that because, even though it's the truth, on screen it might appear bigoted and jingoistic. You can call that political correctness or multiculturalism gone mad — and sure, there's a lot of that going around. But despite what you might have heard, there are sensible, patriotic people in the movie business too. And even they, I suspect, falter before the prospect of presenting such a scenario. ...

Which is a shame. It's a shame for so powerful an art form to become irrelevant because we can't find a way to dramatize the central event of our time. It's a shame that we live under the tireless protection of lawmen and warriors and don't pay tribute to them. And purely in artistic terms, it's a shame that so many great stories are just waiting to be told and we're not telling them.

But thanks, anyway, to the men and women of the FBI, for the seminar and, oh yeah, for trying to keep me alive and free. You truly have my gratitude. Just don't expect to see it at the movies.

Klavan's article is brilliant, but he fails in his choice of words in one singular respect. It's not a "shame" for "for so powerful an art form to become irrelevant because we can't find a way to dramatize the central event of our time". It's a scandal. Some individuals may find it convenient to blame President Bush for all the reversals that have taken place since he started fighting the War on Terror. And doubtless many reversals are the result of the President's mistakes and his alone. But to a certain extent whatever failures have befallen are partly ours too. The desire for safety without paying the price; the hope that evil men will back down simply because we believe they will. All will have its price. And it would be well to remember, for those who rejoice in watching George Bush pay the penalty for his errors, that the Wheel may round on us too. That one day we may awake to world grown weary of our childhood. Alone in the movies. And the lawmen gone away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another issue with Hollywood depicting reality is the "man bites dog" syndrome. A depiction of a routine event - a dog biting a man, a priest who isn't a pedophile or having an affair, a politician who is (relatively speaking) honest - doesn't seem as interesting as a depiction of a shocking or unusual event - like a soldier involved in a heist or atrocity.

Or, more appropriately, our entertainment industry is so unlacking in creativity that they can't build a compelling story out of a more realistic event. They have to fish at the bottom of the gutter, find the most shocking and out of place story, and then try to present that as "truth telling."

1/26/2007 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unlacking in creativity
Oops, self-editing error. Meant to write "lacking in creativity"

1/26/2007 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Chip said...

Both seasons of Sleeper Cell are very well done. But given the amount of unadulterated crap which is produced, it's really damning with faint praise.

It's particulary strange that the center of gay activism wouldn't care about a culture which generally accepts throwing gays off the nearest tall building. Makes James Dobson seem like a cute little teddy bear, but they're all over him. To their credit, Sleeper Cell adressed the issue in its second season, but graphically, if you know what I mean. It's Showtime.

Hollywood is a sore subject with me. Though I totally disagree with D'Souza's larger point (that 9/11 is Hollywood's fault) that Hollywood isn't helping is an understatement.

1/26/2007 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Various scenes from the latest James Bond movie gave the most straightforward and un-PC depiction of anti-terror warfare I had seen on the big screen for some time.

They don't seem to have dented its commercial performance.

1/26/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

the first episodes of 24 got a rise out of the hollywood left for showing middle eastern terrorists and a suitcase nuke going off in LA.

word is they recently arrested someone from the former USSR state of Georgia in a sting for trying to sell weapons grade uranium uraniumthe perp thought was going to mideast terrorists.

1/26/2007 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

From the LATimes? You don't reckon the left is beginning to stick a toe into the war-water, do you?

1/26/2007 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Good example:the screen version of Tom Clancy's "Sum of all Fears" where Arab madmen nuke the superbowl in Denver.The screen version turned the villains into white guys and made absolutely no sense at all.
The Hollywood films of WWII were full of racial stereotypes ,but they also dealt with eternal and transcendant values like freedom and sacrifice.They rallied the homefront.Now the public is kicked into a stew of relativism and national self loathing from Hollywood.You wonder where we still find folks willing to fight.

1/26/2007 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think it's worse than leftist political correctness.

Imagine Hollywood describing a situation where black Africans get massacred by lighter skinned Arab Muslims. Or where dark skinned Muslims get sneered at by wealthy arrogant Saudis. Or slavery in Mauretania. Or Niger. Or Sudan. Or documenting the endemic (anti-dark skin) racism of Pakistani society. Or documenting the brutality of Saudi masters against Filipino maids. Or documenting the horrific working conditions in Dubai of people who aren't getting paid. Or how the United Arab Emirates is the center of a generations-old international flesh trade to satisfy rich Arabs who seek to deflower adolescent girls of their virginity. And on and on and on. Islamism is the Jim Crow of the 21st century.

(What? We can't have some version of Total Recall with a bunch of decadent Gulf Arabs as the bad guys...?)

The fact is, it would not be difficult to have factual (or realistic) movie scripts with white Muslims as the bad guys and black non-Muslims (or Christians) as the good guys.

Let's not forget how the 20th century Ku Klux Klan was fostered by Hollywood's "Birth of a Nation". Let's not forget how Hollywood moguls tried to interfere with Charlie Chaplin's production of "The Great Dictator". Let's not forget Louis B. Mayer's critical role in defeating Upton Sinclair during the 1934 election for Governor of California. Far from being leftist "political correctness", I think Hollywood's unwillingness to make movies against Islamo-fascism is part and parcel of its historical legacy of bigotry and complacency.

As far as I can tell, the folks running the Hollywood studios are a bunch of racist dope fiends who masquerade their casual bigotry as political correctness. Expecting Hollywood to speak out against Islamo-fascism now would be like expecting Hollywood to speak out against Jim Crow during the silent movie era.

1/26/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

It would be interesting to find out how much revenue Hollywood derives from Muslims. Is it a lot or a little.

1/26/2007 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger IceCold said...

Not sure what real price Bush is paying. As someone who, comparatively at least, has shown himself to be the closest to a genuine and responsible leader in the WH in a generation or more, he has always been seemingly indifferent to polling numbers.

On the key matters of war, Bush has not governed as though it's "about him", which is as it should be. I think he's comfortable to await history's judgment, as well he should be.

All of that aside (sorry, big digression) .... what I've found very depressing is that Hollywood is no longer content with ignoring recent/current US military accomplishments and heroism - with Eastwood's Iwo duology, Hollywood is even reaching back and muddying the waters on WWII.

Leaving aside its great flaws simply as a movie (impossible to follow, didn't begin to tell the incredibly compelling and simple story that made the "Flags" book so memorable), the first Iwo movie left the average viewer with little more than the impression that cheap hucksterism was the driving force in war-time fund-raising, and that native Americans were mistreated and usually intoxicated during the war.

But the real head-shaker was the second movie ("Letters"), which managed to educate the movie-going public to the effect that the Imperial Japanese Army was plagued by a few hot-heads as opposed to an essential and pervasive brutality and barbarism, that the Japanese treated POWs with kindness, and Americans shot Japanese POWs in cold blood. A more spectacular and ridiculous inversion of historical reality is hard to imagine.

So to the scandalous refusal to tap the incredible dramatic potential of recent and current US military virtuousity, add the frustration of WWII buffs who are excited by the prospect of contemporary cinematic techniques being applied to their favorite historical topic, yet are greeted with revisionist stuff that ranges from disappointing to preposterous.

"Private Ryan" with its moral ambiguity arguably tilted towards the grim neccessity of war is the only exception in recent times, along with the superb "Band of Brothers" put together by the same Spielberg/Hanks team. But maybe I've missed something - truth is, unless there's a high-profile war flick of some sort that comes along, I very rarely venture into a movie theater any more. Been that way for years, only partly due to the issues raised in this post.

1/26/2007 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sgt. Mom said...

I think that basically, they're too afraid to actually make movies dealing with it all... I wrote about this in a memo to Hollywood in mid 2003:
"...since even mentioning the Religion of Peace ™ in connection with things like terrorism, mass-murder, and international plots for a new caliphate is a guarantee to bring CAIR and other fellow travelers seething and whining in your outer office… ohh, best not. Drag out those old villainous standby Nazis, or South American drug lords, even the odd far-right survivalist for your theatrical punch-up, secure in the knowledge that even if you piss off what few remains of them, at least they won’t be unleashing a fatwa on your lazy ass, or sending a suicide bomber into Mortens’. Just ignore the three large smoking holes in the ground; cover your eyes and pretend it away. Never happened, religion of peace, all about oil, la-la-lah, fingers in my ears, I can’t hear you.

5.To make movies about it all, is to have to come to grips with certain concepts; among them being the fact that we are all potential targets for the forces of aggressive Islamo-fascism, that it is not anything in particular which we have done to draw such animus, and that we are in this all together, and that we must win, for the consequences of not winning are not only unbearable for us all… but they would be very likely to adversely affect you, too. I would expect an industry dependent on the moods and fashions amongst the public at large to have a better feel for what would sell… but I guess denial is more comfortable, familiar space..."

1/27/2007 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger mnc said...

Recently watched The Hunt for Eagle One and its sequel THfE1:Crashpoint, Roger Corman produced B-movies with American/Filipino casts that went straight to video.

No ambiguity about who the bad guys were.

Over the top plots with some silly WW1 type scenes of Filipino troops charging entrenched heavily armed Moros over open ground, but the scenes covering house to house fighting by a combined USMC/AFP platoon were pretty good.

But as a B-movie that went straight to video, it does not stand as to contradict the proposition that Hollywood is dodging the issue.

1/27/2007 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Ice Cold -
Not sure what real price Bush is paying. As someone who, comparatively at least, has shown himself to be the closest to a genuine and responsible leader in the WH in a generation or more,

Well, a shattered Republican Party and loss of Congress for starters, which portends 2 years of investigations, 2 of lame duckhood where his only real power is to muck up Iraq further.

he has always been seemingly indifferent to polling numbers.

A good thing too. Ignoring how the public sees him is about the only way he can look himself in the mirror.

On the key matters of war, Bush has not governed as though it's "about him", which is as it should be.

No, he has governed domestically on what the corporatists want, and overseas not on what America needs, but on what he thinks the Religion of Peace and the noble, purple-fingered democratic, freedom-loving Iraqis want.
Neither a good thing.
But you're right. Bush has never thought it was about him, but all about what the fatcats and Iraqis tell him they want.

I think he's comfortable to await history's judgment, as well he should be.

If by comfortable, you mean accepting history's judgement that he was a more inept President than Carter or Warren Harding. Of the Bush actions - debt, economy, diplomacy, war, special programs, ability to get things done when he had a Republican Congress to address dangerous areas of American neglect - historians have already rated what he did with the tools he had as abysmal. His "accomplishments" such as no-negotiation on drug price Prescription Plan for seniors, No Child Left behind, tripling the ethanol and farm subsidies - are not likely to look better with time. I guess you and he have enormously wide comfort zones.

Currently there is a raging debate at SMU on whether to accept the corporatist's effort to build the 500 million monument to Bush II on campus, or ask the Bush II Library donors from Big Oil and Saudi Arabia go to Waco Community College or some other place.

On Hollywood, they have always been a pack of gutless Marxist Jewish Moguls and players that sanctioned WWII propaganda movies only because the Soviet Center of World Progressivism was attacked by the Nazis. Other than WWII, they view any pro-West, pro-American movie proposal with suspicion.
To be pro-West or pro-American is to undermine all their work in the cause of reshaping it into a "better place". To build a new and better West or America, 1st Marxist rule is that which stands in it's way must be undermined, weakened, destroyed.
That is one reason why Hollywood is largely silent on Islam. They may wish to kill most of the people in Hollywood eventually, but for now the Islamists are fighting the good fight against the Western and American institutions Hollywood players and Moguls revile.

1/27/2007 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

icecold: ...truth is, unless there's a high-profile war flick of some sort that comes along, I very rarely venture into a movie theater any more. Been that way for years, only partly due to the issues raised in this post.

Film is an art form that elicits a mood. That's why silent pictures worked. The best ones leave you thinking about them for days. But Hollywood has turned cinema into a format for preaching an ideology. Get the kiddies in, show them the helicopters and explosions, tell them how evil Bush's war policy is (or enviromental policy, or waterboarding policy), and get them out because they're really only interested in the ticket and popcorn money they leave behind. As soon as the filmgoers get to the parking lot again they've forgotten most of the narrative, and all that remains is a vague rotten feeling about American troops, the American President, and America herself.

But this is a self-defeating procedure, because people don't want to pay money and invest two hours of their life in a crowded theater with obnoxious patrons just to be made to feel lousy.

Occasionally a maverick director will come along to make an indie outside of the studio system that earns a billion dollars (like Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ) but the money, and the accomplished film itself, are the only rewards. No accolades, awards, and peer-adulation lie that way. But they will be made, because the very dearth of good war films will make it stand out that much more.

1/27/2007 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

What terrorism? It's all about America's appetite for oil: Syriana.

We're the bad guys.

1/27/2007 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hollywood is about distribution. With the internet and youtube anyone can be a Hollywood movie producer. And that means you, Cedarford. I guess we don't have to wonder what "patriotic" movies you will be making.

1/27/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger pauldanish said...

"Which is a shame. It's a shame for so powerful an art form to become irrelevant because we can't find a way to dramatize the central event of our time."

It's not a "way" they can't find. It's the intellectual honesty and integrity to do it.

1/27/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

"It's a shame for so powerful an art form to become irrelevant because we can't find a way to dramatize the central event of our time."

Oh, yes we can- have faith. Expect reels and reels of docu-melodramas on the perils of changing temps inflicted upon us by Texas oilmen and SUV-driving soccer moms with American flag decals on their bumpers. The Day After Tomorrow and An Inconvenient Truth are only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Btw, if lately you’ve experienced a hot or cool summer and either a mild or cold winter, then you should be a True Believer.

(During the election season to come, the second most central event of our lifetimes will be the absence of government-funded universal health care for all Americans and "guests." Expect Hollywood to address this, too, along with Michael Moore's Sicko.)

1/27/2007 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

Unlike the electorate, the political class fully comprehends the value of a good distraction.

___The Two Year Program of Catching and Releasing Iranian Saboteurs___

What would have happened to the Bush administration and the Republican Party in the 2006 election had the public known of the two year policy of catching and releasing Iranian saboteurs - some of whom killed American troops?

Where were the military bloggers, who knew or reasonably should have known of the two year policy of catching and releasing Iranian saboteurs – some of whom killed American troops?

The administration and their friendly military bloggers will be pleased with the distraction of the slap on the wrist planned by the United States Senate next week, with Republican senators in tow.

1/27/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Religion of Peace™. A religion that will remove a living girl's head for islamic charity with nary a complaint from their moderate contingent. Also known as the religion of human sacrifice.

1/27/2007 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

The next administration is likely to be Democratic: Hollywood's Party. When the United States, under a Democratic president, responds to the Islamist's attacks, which will of course continue, it will be interesting to see whether Hollywood will continue turning a blind eye to the conflict; after all, their gal-or-guy will be in charge. My guess: Hollywood will suddenly miraculously regain sight.

1/27/2007 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Don't you suppose the box office success of "United 93" made front office types sit up and take notice? It's well known that if something works in Hollywood, i.e. makes money, it will be repeated and repeated.

What does "United 93" have that's repeatedable? Americans as hero's and Arabs as villains.

Hmmmm. Having to make a choice between continuing to manufacture the "feel good" dreck that has been making audiences avoid the movies in swarms, or to come right out and show Muslims as bad guys and Americans defending themselves, which seems to be a money-making proposition. 'tis a puzzlement.

1/27/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger lugh lampfhota said...

Imagine C4s' angst when he discovers Joos in his lineage while conducting geneology research.

1/27/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Much of Hollywood's revenue comes now from overseas distribution, from audiences conditioned by a non-stop narrative of American wickedness, served to them by their local media mandarins.

Plots featuring an out-of-control CIA or a corrupt President not only fit foreign audience expectations, but also track closely the anti-establishment narrative which has been a Hollywood staple for more than a generation.

The idea of an arrogant, greedy, Gaia-destroying America winning anything against the world's virtuous downtrodden, those with with media-legitimized 'greivances' whom America has 'oppressed' and 'humiliated' simply doesn't fit the business model.

1/28/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Hollywood can not be bothered with the spread of Islamic fascism and it's affect on the world. Their best and brightest are producing "art" about real men lovingly having their colons ruptured......

1/28/2007 06:12:00 PM  

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