“Come on, man,” Ed Morrissey implores. “Paramount bans showings of Team America: World Police in place of The Interview”:
Oh, the irony. After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview, a few theaters declared that they would show the 2004 hit Team America: World Police in its place as a protest against threats to free expression. That film also derided the government of North Korea, as well as the liberal Hollywood establishment that catered to anti-American despots in what was a prescient (if irreverent and very R-rated) satire.
As if to emphasize the latter critique, two cinemas have announced that Paramount Pictures has forbidden them to show the film publicly:
According to IMDB, Team America, while distributed by Paramount, was produced by Scott Rudin, the embattled (and uber-manic) Sony Pictures executive being eaten alive by the North Korean hacking scandal. I wonder if he put in a frantic call to Paramount to have Team America banned as a substitute for the latest anti-North Korean movie whose production he led. (If so, the Norks will likely let us know in their next round of hacks.)
A few years ago, when TCM or AMC reran Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road to Morocco, a 1942 Paramount production, I remember thinking, it’s a good thing this film is grandfathered in, as there’s no way Hollywood would make this movie today, in today’s leftwing hypersensitive, comedy-killing “multicultural” era. That iteration of Paramount was made of sterner stuff — but who knew that the 2004 version of Paramount was as well?
A couple of years after Team America snuck past Paramount’s leftwing censors, Mark Steyn had Hollywood’s number down pat: “Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won”:
Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era — though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose — he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than by the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.
That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.
A KNOWN WOMAN These films are “transgressive” mostly in the sense that Transamerica is transsexual. I like Felicity Huffman and all, and I’m not up to speed with the latest strictures on identity-group casting, but isn’t it a bit condescending to get a lifelong woman (or whatever the expression is) to play a transsexual? If Hollywood announced Al Jolson would be playing Martin Luther King Jr., I’m sure Denzel Washington & Co. would have something to say about it. Were no transsexual actresses available for this role? I know at least one, personally, and there was a transsexual Bond girl in the late Roger Moore era who looked incredibly hot, albeit with a voice several octaves below Paul Robeson. What about that cutie with the very fetching Adam’s apple from The Crying Game? And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. That’s to say, they’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market — a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the administration.
And nearly a decade later, that’s still how, in its heart of hearts, Hollywood would prefer to view America:
A few months ago, John Nolte of Big Hollywood was excoriated by the left for daring to predict that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO would eventually ban DVD sales or streaming of Blazing Saddles. But he was certainly on to something: Hollywood likely doesn’t want to admit that its earlier executives were made of much stronger stuff than those running the town now.
Update: At the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch documents the “Signposts of a Broken Culture:”
Think about this for a second. What we are saying—nay, what we have accepted, as a society—is a situation in which a totally blameless third party would be held responsible for the evil committed by an irresponsible actor. Sony and the theater chains are being punished for the mere potential of a terror attack against them.
I joked with a friend that tort reform immediately became my number one concern for 2016. He pointed out, rightly, that this is a much larger issue. Tort reform? That’s just futzing around at the edges. Our problem runs much, much deeper than concerns over insurance costs for doctors. Our true problem is that, again, we have accepted, as a society, that it’s okay to sue a party for the bad behavior of a second party even if the first party has no role whatsoever in the malfeasance.
“This is also totally and completely bonkers,” Bunch writes, before concluding that “We made this world. [Sony's] just living with the rules we adopted.” I’m not sure who “we” is, but I do know the top five list of Obama donors in 2012 include both Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, and Steve Mostyn, “a Houston-based personal injury attorney.” We now know which industry blinked first in that equation.