James Lileks once dubbed Hollywood’s output post-9/11 as “the Golden Era of beating around the bush” for its fear of actually tacking the Big Story of Our Times head-on. And of course, it’s also the golden era of beating around the bush about beating up on Bush, and often in the same picture.
For the latest in a never-ending stream of examples, check out this quote from David Koepp, the writer of the upcoming Cruise/Spielberg version of The War of the Worlds (which started filming just after the November presidential election, incidentally):
“And now, as we see American adventure abroad’ he (David Koepp} continues ‘in my mind it’s certainly back to it’s original meaning, which is that the Martians in our movie represent American military forces invading the Iraqis, and the futility of the occupation of a faraway land is again the subtext”
(Found via PoliPundit.)
Hey I agree–invasions are futile; let’s get the troops out of foreign lands ASAP. Mind if we start in Germany, where Koepp probably feels our troops have been futilely stationed for 60 years after we won what Spielberg once essentially dubbed the futile battle known as World War II?
Then there’s that whole Red Planet thing. Boy, after the November election, the wag who said that the newspapers should send some foreign correspondents to report on the Red States didn’t know the half of it! Red states as a foreign country? Heck, they’re a whole other planet as far as Hollywood is concerned!
It’s curious how time (and a different president) changes both Hollywood’s perspective, and its critics. When Starship Troopers was released in 1997, Paul Verhoeven was roundly criticized for making a seemingly pro-fascist movie. (“Doogie Himmler!” was the reaction of a film critic on Comedy Central’s Daily Show when Neil Patrick Harris showed up at the end of the film in a leather trenchcoat.) Had Verhoeven released his film in 2004, rather than receiving brickbats, he would have gotten many of the same accolades from the critics that Michael Moore received for producing a trenchant satire of the modern US military and the propagandistic nature of the conservatively biased media.
I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with any of the post-9/11 films, if there was some balance. Nobody begrudged Hollywood producing anti-war films like Paths of Glory or All Quiet On The Western Front (both superb pictures of course, especially the former), as long as we were also getting Casablanca and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. Even as late as the 1980s, Hollywood could gave its audiences both Platoon and Cruise’s own Top Gun.
A while back, Mark Steyn noted that the leftwing fetish for multiculturalism has had the perverse effect of making Hollywood movies less ethnocentric than ever before.
And just as with newspapers, an industry that obsesses over cultural diversity is writing more and more of its stories from the exact same homogenized cookie-cutter template, even as they wonder why they keep losing audience share.