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Ed Driscoll

Fake but Accurate, Hollywood and WaPo Style

August 22nd, 2010 - 3:04 pm

Richard Armitage? Who’s he?!

As P.J. Gladnick writes at Newsbusters, “Imagine a movie about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination that neglects to include the character of John Wilkes Booth. Ridiculous, right? Well, that is pretty much what has happened in the movie Fair Game, in which the person who leaked the name of Valerie Plame to Robert Novak, Richard Armitage, never appears in the film”:

So how to excuse such an absurd situation? Simple. Just write off complaints about this as political insider nitpicking. That is what Washington Post writer Ann Hornaday has done in her article that sets up laughable excuses in advance to what is sure to be a firestorm of criticism about the absence of the very leaker responsible for why we even know the name of Valerie Plame. The photo caption accompanying her story encapsulates her excuse:

In Washington, watching fact-based political movies has become a sport all its own, with viewers hyper-alert to mistakes, composite characters or real stories hijacked by political agendas. But what audiences often fail to take into account is that a too-literal allegiance to the facts can sometimes obscure a larger truth.

Read the whole thing, which concludes with this observation from Gladnick:

Hornaday concludes her justification of political film fact twisting with some stunning reasoning straight out of “1984″ that is painful to read:

As long as dramatists seek to make protagonists out of mere humans — to reduce their tangled webs of contradictions, complexities and banalities to a set of single-minded motivations and fatal flaws — audiences will need to approach these narratives with a blend of sophistication and skepticism. But maybe the best way to understand these films isn’t as narrative at all, but an experience more akin to ritual. When religious pilgrims travel to the sacred sites of the Holy Land, for example, the locations they visit often aren’t the literal places where a biblical figure was born or baptized. Instead, they’re the sites that, through centuries of use and shared meaning, have become infused with a spiritual reality all their own.

Thus, the movies about Washington that get the right stuff right — or get some stuff wrong but in the right way — become their own form of consensus history. “Follow the money,” then, assumes its own totemic truth. Ratified through repeated viewings in theaters, on Netflix and beyond, these films become a mutual exercise in creating a usable past. We watch them to be entertained, surely, and maybe educated. But we keep watching them in order to remember.

Wow! So the “truth” of a “usable past” can be “ratified” through repeated viewings in theaters? That is the Orwellian reasoning that makes Valerie Plame name leaker Richard Armitage a non-person. Armitage never existed because he doesn’t appear in “Fair Game.”

A few years ago, Dennis Prager wrote, “As a famous Soviet dissident joke put it: ‘In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it’s the past which is always changing.’”

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