January 27, 2007
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 â€” more populist, hungrier for content and less dependent on foreign audiences â€” 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. . . .
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 â€” some of whom may be white and male and Christian â€” 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 â€” 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.
(Via Michael Barone, who has further thoughts.)
UPDATE: Related item here.