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Is Hollywood Too Timid for the War on Terror?

Old 01-26-07, 09:15 AM
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Is Hollywood Too Timid for the War on Terror?

I thought this was a good, fairly non-partisan article (although I suspect that the subsequent postings in this thread will beg to differ ). I think he brings up some very strong points as to why filmmakers are reluctant to deal with this subject---and it's more nuanced than just the standard "liberal, PC filmmakers hate America". But it did get me thinking about how much our society has changed when you look at the number and nature of WWII films coming out of Hollywood during that conflict, and compare that to the last 5 years or so.

Is Hollywood too timid for the war on terror?

Thanks to political correctness, you don't see much about the greatest conflict of our time on the big screen.

By Andrew Klavan, ANDREW KLAVAN's most recent novel is "Damnation Road."
January 26, 2007


I RECENTLY attended "FBI 101," a G-man seminar for Hollywood writers. I do this kind of thing a lot: law enforcement seminars, ride-alongs, citizen academies and the like. It's a simple deal. The writers get information and research contacts; the lawdogs get a fighting chance at being portrayed realistically and maybe, on occasion, even sympathetically.

Now, in my case, the federales were preaching to the converted. Any agency with a record of battling gangsters, communists and dirty pols can show up as good guys in my work anytime. And never mind just their record. Since 9/11 — chastened by blunders from within and above — the FBI has reinvented itself as a thin gray line against Islamic terrorism. Pulling 16-hour days, volunteering for repeated tours of duty at FBI outposts in the Middle East, constantly aware that their failures will be remembered when their successes are forgotten, the G-people are clearly heroes.

But if they're hoping that their seminar will win them props from filmmakers in general — a picture or two celebrating their courageous work in the war on terror — I suspect they are going to be disappointed. In the history of our time as told by the movies, the war on terror largely does not exist.

Which is passing strange, you know. Because the war on terror is the history of our time. The outcome of our battle against the demographic, political and military upsurge of a hateful theology and its oppressive political vision will determine the fate of freedom in this century.

Television — more populist, hungrier for content and less dependent on foreign audiences — reflects this fact with shows such as "24" and "The Unit." But at the movies, all we're getting is home-front angst and the occasional "Syriana," in which "moderate" Islam is thwarted by evil American interests. But the notion that this war is about our moral failings is comfort fantasy, pure and simple. It soothes us with the false idea that, if we but mend ourselves, the scary people will leave us alone.

The real world is both darker than that and lighted brighter in places by surprising fires of nobility. It's darker because our enemies were not created by the peccadilloes of free people and will not melt away before a moral perfection that we, in any case, can never achieve. It's brighter because there are heroes like the FBI, the military and the cop on the corner who will give up everything, even their lives, to stop these madmen.

That kind of rousing story seems tailor-made for films. So why aren't they telling it? It's not just about left and right, blue and red; it really isn't. You don't have to like President Bush or support our efforts in Iraq to understand the threat of conspirators plotting to kill your children in the name of jihad.

In all fairness, moviemakers have a legitimately baffling problem with the nature of the war itself. 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.

We cherish the religious tolerance of our society, after all. Plus, we're less than a lifetime away from Jim Crow and, decent people that we are, we're rightly humbled by the moral failures of our past. We've become uncomfortable to the point of paralysis when reality draws the limits of tolerance and survival demands pride in our traditions and ferocity in their defense. We can show homegrown terrorists in, say, "Déjà Vu" or real-life ones, as in "United 93," but we can't bring ourselves to fictionalize the larger idea: Islamo-fascism is an evil and American liberty a good.

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.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...nion-rightrail
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Old 01-26-07, 09:22 AM
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Why is it so difficult to understand that Iraq is NOT WWII nor will it ever be.

The American people supported WWII. Iraq is another in a long line of bullshit wars that no one wants.
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Old 01-26-07, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
Why is it so difficult to understand that Iraq is NOT WWII nor will it ever be.

The American people supported WWII. Iraq is another in a long line of bullshit wars that no one wants.
(sigh) umm...I'm not a supporter of the Iraq war either. Did you even read the article?
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Old 01-26-07, 09:39 AM
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Of course I read the article. It doesn't even mention WWII - that was your contribution.

Political correctness? Perhaps. Maybe we can make up something similar to "The Japs" and make some cool politically incorrect movies. Yay!
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Old 01-26-07, 09:57 AM
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Maybe it's just because not many people have an interest in watching movies about terrorists blowing shit up? I don't think a country that makes American Idol and The Da Vinci Code the most popular entertainment of their day is really interested in a Middle Eastern terrorist case study movie.
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Old 01-26-07, 11:20 AM
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Hollywood is just waiting to see how it ends first.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
I thought this was a good, fairly non-partisan article.
Really?

In all fairness, moviemakers have a legitimately baffling problem with the nature of the war itself. 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.
You have to? Really? "Little Caesar", "Scarface", the guy seriously needs to take a look at the history of American gangster films.

So I'll be waiting for films depicting "mythologizing of the terrorist" and then for a new Hays production code which will virtually outlaw such films, in favor of films depicting vigilante G-Men tirelessly hunting down terrorist scum.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
The American people supported WWII. Iraq is another in a long line of bullshit wars that no one wants.
Not until Pearl Harbor was bombed. Prior to that we were okay with the Jews going to "camp."

And the American people supported Iraq as well. As did congress (with one or two exceptions.

I read somewhere that an editorial staff was writing against the tv show 24 because of how it could make people hate Muslims. They didn't have a problem with how it might have made people feel towards Russians or Chinese in past seasons.

Hollywood is too timit for the war on terror. Hollywood is too timid for a lot of things. Hooray, we capitulate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris

You have to? Really? "Little Caesar", "Scarface", the guy seriously needs to take a look at the history of American gangster films.

So I'll be waiting for films depicting "mythologizing of the terrorist" and then for a new Hays production code which will virtually outlaw such films, in favor of films depicting vigilante G-Men tirelessly hunting down terrorist scum.
I'm not really following. When he says "you have to", he's referring to the depiction of the current struggle of the US against AQ, and the jist of his article is about Hollywood TODAY not dealing with the subject....I'm not so much disagreeing with you, as I'm really not getting your argument....
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Old 01-26-07, 12:41 PM
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Hollywood isn't fighting the "war" so who cares.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
I'm not really following. When he says "you have to", he's referring to the depiction of the current struggle of the US against AQ, and the jist of his article is about Hollywood TODAY not dealing with the subject....I'm not so much disagreeing with you, as I'm really not getting your argument....
I understand that Hollywood today is not dealing with the subject. My problem is with his argument that if Hollywood chose to deal with said subject, it WOULD HAVE TO be in films glorifying G-Men tirelessly hunting down terrorist scum. Hence my comparison to American gangster films. I know Hollywood is there to make a buck, but I cannot reconcile artistic freedom with WOULD HAVE TO.
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Old 01-26-07, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
I understand that Hollywood today is not dealing with the subject. My problem is with his argument that if Hollywood chose to deal with said subject, it WOULD HAVE TO be in films glorifying G-Men tirelessly hunting down terrorist scum. Hence my comparison to American gangster films. I know Hollywood is there to make a buck, but I cannot reconcile artistic freedom with WOULD HAVE TO.
Oh, OK--I get your point. Yeah, artists should have the freedom to deal with a subject as they see fit. I just think the point he was making is that most filmmakers, of any political stripe, would like to see AQ defeated militarily as opposed to taking over power and installing a Taliban-style government anywhere, and the stories they would tell would reflect that. And if you do stories where the West foils that, it's going to involve white christian/Euopean types fighting and killing darker-skinned, less economically advantaged non-Christians. And for a number of reasons, some quite justifiable--others not, filmmakers are reluctant to go there. And as a result, one of the biggest, most important issues of our time is not really being addressed by arguably the most powerful artistic medium we have.

I think it's just the nature of our society in general---given our history and some of the moral failings of the West, it's a lot easier for us now, in our films, to villainize blond-haired blue-eyed Nazis than it is to villianize people who come from quite different racial backgrounds. Certainly it's a reaction against the way Hollywood used to portray minorities as dim-witted or malevolent stereotypes in the past---but maybe it's a problem where now we go too far the other way, when filmmakers refuse to deal with the reality that AQ and most Islamic terrorists who are plotting to destroy the West are of Middle Eastern descent.
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Old 01-26-07, 01:16 PM
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Considering all of the bad 80s action movies that tried to "win" the Vietnam War ex post facto, it's probably not a bad thing they're leaving the "war on terror" alone.
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Old 01-26-07, 01:18 PM
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Basically, this guy is complaining that Arabs aren't all portrayed as mustache-twirling villains in Hollywood films.
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Old 01-26-07, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Basically, this guy is complaining that Arabs aren't all portrayed as mustache-twirling villains in Hollywood films.
So all Arabs are at war with the West?
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Old 01-26-07, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Not until Pearl Harbor was bombed. Prior to that we were okay with the Jews going to "camp."

And the American people supported Iraq as well. As did congress (with one or two exceptions.

I read somewhere that an editorial staff was writing against the tv show 24 because of how it could make people hate Muslims. They didn't have a problem with how it might have made people feel towards Russians or Chinese in past seasons.

Hollywood is too timit for the war on terror. Hollywood is too timid for a lot of things. Hooray, we capitulate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone.
I have to agree. How many GERMAN TERRORIST movies have we seen. Even up till this day, if I was to only watch Hollywood movies, I'd think Germany was responsible for 9/11. Hollywood doesn't fuck with Muslim Issues because they are afraid of having their studios bombed, and actors are afraid of getting their heads cut off. It pretty much comes down to that. Hollywood will insult as many people as they can to gain profits in the theaters. They only pick on groups who generally don't raise their arms in the air every second they are "offended" and only pick on those who politically cannot retaliate. Like Germans.

Last edited by DVD Polizei; 01-26-07 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 01-26-07, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Maybe it's just because not many people have an interest in watching movies about terrorists blowing shit up? I don't think a country that makes American Idol and The Da Vinci Code the most popular entertainment of their day is really interested in a Middle Eastern terrorist case study movie.

Really? I guess thats why '24' is such a flop then........Oh wait...
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Old 01-26-07, 04:15 PM
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The guy obviously never watched Sleeper Cell.
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Old 01-26-07, 04:37 PM
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Old 01-26-07, 09:13 PM
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I find it hard to take a writer seriously that is saying grand sweeping statements like "The war on terror will determine the fate of freedom in this century" and popping out the old "islamo-fascist" lingo. What's next, "enemy combatants" and "Freedom fries"?

'Cause you know we can predict the history of the next century. Terrorism will determine the fate of 'freedom' for the next 90 years. Sure.
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Old 01-26-07, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Bronkster
Hollywood is just waiting to see how it ends first.
yeah, they got burned on that Green Berets movie back in 68.
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Old 01-26-07, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds
You don't think it will have a lasting impact on our institutions? We created a whole new cabinet-level position in response to the first main attack. What do you think will happen if we're struck again?
Freedom will disappear?
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Old 01-26-07, 10:36 PM
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sum of all fears is a perfect example
changed the bad guys to neo nazis instead of islamofacists, although that technically was done before the WOT started with that term
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Old 01-26-07, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
I have to agree. How many GERMAN TERRORIST movies have we seen. Even up till this day, if I was to only watch Hollywood movies, I'd think Germany was responsible for 9/11. Hollywood doesn't fuck with Muslim Issues because they are afraid of having their studios bombed, and actors are afraid of getting their heads cut off. It pretty much comes down to that. Hollywood will insult as many people as they can to gain profits in the theaters. They only pick on groups who generally don't raise their arms in the air every second they are "offended" and only pick on those who politically cannot retaliate. Like Germans.
Or Bosnians. I mean when Hollywood changes the villians in a movie from what was in the books makes me think that the director and actors are afraid of Islamofascitsts firebombing their homes. I know that fear had a role in the networks not showing the Danish Mohammed cartoons. As I've noted in the past, Hollywood makes fun of every religion except Islam and Global Warming.


edit:mikehunt posted at the same time as I and I didn't see his post.
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Old 01-26-07, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mikehunt
sum of all fears is a perfect example
changed the bad guys to neo nazis instead of islamofacists, although that technically was done before the WOT started with that term
Well, it kind of started when True Lies was released. Muslims whined and complained. Then take a look at the Die Hard movies. And in all 3 movies, who were the evil terrorists terrorizing LA and NYC. Why, it was the Germans!
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