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Hollywood Loses the War in Iraq

Will Hollywood ever wake up and realize that all films about the Iraq war aren't doomed to failure — it's their bias that's the problem?

by
John Nolte

Bio

July 20, 2008 - 12:00 am
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It’s not just narrative anti-war films cratering at the box office. Documentaries are somehow doing worse. Even after winning last year’s Best Documentary Oscar, Taxi To The Darkside cleared an abysmal $286,000 at the box office. So in denial is Alex Gibney, the film’s director, that he’s suing his distributor for failing to publicize the film properly, as though an Oscar win wasn’t publicity enough.

Ever the studio enablers, the L.A. Times covered this recent spate of documentary flops but saw no correlation other than genre:

Critically acclaimed films about provocative subjects struggle to make money all the time, but rarely have so many lauded documentaries consistently failed to connect at the box office.

The article goes on to list a half-dozen box office failures, most of which approach their subjects from a decidedly left-of-center point of view: Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains, Standard Operating Procedure, Taxi To The Darkside, and Bigger, Strong, Faster, (a look at steroid use, promoted with an odd Bush-bashing trailer from Magnolia’s Mark Cuban, who should know better after his Redacted failed to clear $66,000 domestically).

Like the Washington Post‘s refusal to mention Vantage Point in their look at narrative war-themed failures, The L.A. Times conspicuously ignored a title, as well: Ben Stein’s conservative look at the intelligent design debate, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Stein’s conservative leaning Expelled may not have set the box office afire, but with a domestic gross of $7.6 million it made more than most of the left-wing documentary flops put together and currently ranks #5 as the all-time box office champ in the political documentary genre. But the L.A. Times remarkably (or not, if you’re a longtime reader) did not find this worth mentioning.

Media perpetrators of liberal bias generally look for refuge from criticism behind a “facts” defense, as though being “factually correct” is all that’s necessary in the proper and responsible reporting of a story. Bias, of course, as fair-minded people well know, is rarely as blatant and bizarre as Dan Rather’s attempt to usher John Kerry into the White House reporting on thirty-year-old military documents produced on a new computer. Instead, bias is generally the result of what is and isn’t covered — a lack of context.

One of the biggest entertainment stories of the year has been covered by Big Media in a way that can only be defended as “factually correct,” but the real story hasn’t been told.

What’s most worrisome is that Hollywood, the industry that stands to most profit from giving the public what it wants, appears to be even less interested.

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John Nolte is a screenwriter and director living in Los Angeles. He blogs at Dirty Harry's Place
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