A Los Angeles Times article recently began by noting that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, the Tom Hanks post-9⁄11 film which opens on Christmas, is one of the very few Hollywood productions to try to come to grips with the impact of September 11, 2001 on our national psyche. The piece then went on to ponder the question, “Why so few Sept. 11 films?” and concluded that “the film industry has tiptoed around this national tragedy.” Indeed it has, but not for the reasons suggested in the Times article.
The Times points out that there have been plenty of documentaries about the day and its aftermath, but ten years after the terrorist attacks, only two major feature films — Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center and Paul Greengrass’ United 93 – have specifically dealt with the day in question, and “neither film was a roaring commercial success.”
“If anything,” the article continues, “the film industry has used the tragedy as an excuse to deluge TV and the multiplex with political thrillers focusing on terrorism,” citing Showtime’s series Sleeper Cell and Homeland, the feature film The Kingdom, and the upcoming film by The Hurt Locker filmmakers about the killing of Osama bin Laden. An “excuse” to focus on terrorism? Sept. 11 was not some vague “tragedy”; it was a terrorist attack. The enemy pretty much did that focusing for us. In any case, none of those thrillers exactly set the box office or Nielsen ratings on fire either.
Among the sources offering their thoughts on the topic was novelist Amy Waldman, author of The Submission, a novel about a Muslim architect who wins a contest to design a Ground Zero Memorial. Waldman thinks that Hollywood has steered clear of addressing 9⁄11 because overexposure of that fateful morning has squeezed out any possibility for imaginative interpretation:
Has any event in history been so visually documented and seen from every possible angle by so many people? There’s not a ton of room for the imagination there.
Really? No room for the imagination? If anything, the attacks have spawned some of the wildest flights of filmmakers’ imaginations – namely, Michael Moore’s fact-challenged Fahrenheit 911 and the even more outlandish Loose Change, which posit that the collapse of the Twin Towers was an inside job carried out by the demonic George W. Bush and his cronies. “No room for the imagination” seems like an, well, unimaginative explanation.
Closer to the truth is film critic Marshall Fine, quoted as saying that 9⁄11
[has] been covered almost too carefully. [Hollywood’s] been so worried about offending somebody’s sensibilities that they’ve held off. There’s so much caution.
Hollywood has been afraid of offending sensibilities. Where it once led the propaganda charge against the Nazis and Japanese imperialists, Hollywood is now afraid of offending the very Islamists who have declared war on us, because it doesn’t want to incur their violent wrath. It’s even afraid of being called Islamophobic. Hollywood is much more comfortable clinging to the multiculturalist orthodoxy which faults the racist, imperialist, warmongering America and the West for all international conflict.
“The one thing the [9⁄11 attacks] did do,” says film professor David Irving in the Times,
was open our eyes to this world in the Middle East, and I think a lot of the movies that came out as a result of that, it’s been a way for us to understand why [9⁄11] happened, because it was not some random act.
Indeed it was not a random act. But ten years after that morning, have the movies that resulted from it been helpful for us “to understand why 9⁄11 happened”? Or were they merely efforts on the part of left-leaning filmmakers to spread their morally obfuscating, America-loathing, anti-war messages?
One project did indeed strive to help America understand. The article neglects to mention the miniseries The Path to 9⁄11, a docudrama which drew 27 million viewers on the fifth anniversary of the attacks. A $30+ million project that aired on two September nights in 2006, The Path to 9⁄11 dramatized the historical thread that connected the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Islamic attacks on American interests throughout the ‘90s, and the terrorism of that fateful morning in 2001. Drawing upon The 9⁄11 Commission Report and other reliable sources, it connected the dots for audiences more thoroughly and accurately than any Hollywood project before or since, and had been slated for use as an educational tool in schools across the country.
But Clinton administration alumni, fearful that any portrayal of their flaccid response to the rising tide of Islamic terrorism in the ‘90s would tarnish their legacy, lashed out hard; ABC/Disney never aired that controversial miniseries again and still refuses to release it on DVD due to political reasons (check out the documentary Blocking the Path to 9⁄11 for the whole outrageous story).
Meanwhile, the bulk of Hollywood’s 9⁄11-related output supported the left’s narrative that America’s own hegemonic geopolitical meddling, not global jihad, is to blame for Muslim rage. Movies like Syriana with George Clooney, Traitor starring Don Cheadle, and Body of Lies featuring Leonardo DiCaprio all portrayed the CIA as no better than our enemy, and Muslims as victims of Western imperialist greed.
Tied closely to Hollywood’s depiction of the war on terror was its perspective on the war in Iraq. The Times article claims that Hollywood’s seeming reluctance to deal in a meaningful way with 9⁄11
might have something to do with the lessons learned from the failure of a slew of movies about the Iraq war — audiences would rather not pay to see a film about an event that is too close, too painful or has been too well covered by the media.
In fact, the Times and Hollywood itself remain clueless about the most glaringly obvious reason that slew of flicks failed. It wasn’t because the events are too close or too painful, but because every one of those box office duds – Matt Damon’s The Green Zone, Tom Cruise’s Lions for Lambs, Sean Penn’s Fair Game, In The Valley of Elah, Stop: Loss, Rendition, Redacted, The Hurt Locker and more – every one depicted the war as a Bush administration deception and/or our soldiers as traumatized, walking time bombs.
American audiences rejected that message. They have been repelled by Hollywood’s messages of moral equivalence and flagellating self-guilt, its disrespect and pity toward our warriors, and its refusal to celebrate American values and to take a patriotic stance in our war with Islamic fundamentalists. That’s why Hollywood has spent ten years failing at coming to grips with 9⁄11 and its aftermath.
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To get the whole story on why Hollywood leftists sympathize with enemy death cults, read Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.
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