Troops 10, Hollywood 0

During the Second World War, Hollywood mobilized right alongside the troops to fight the Axis.  We've all seen those old Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny cartoons glorifying our military, and encouraging civilians to serve the cause by buying war bonds, recycling rubber and scrap metal, and willingly paying taxes.  For the breathing movie stars, a USO tour was obligatory; Bob Hope was the most dedicated star to entertain our troops overseas, but practically all the rest did as well.

The movies produced during the war years -- though rarely seen today -- served to both encourage those on the home front, and to make our soldiers feel proud as they did their job.

Fast forward a few decades.  Today, Hollywood encourages every military institution that is not a part of the United States.  Instead, today's movie stars praise the regimes of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein while hiding their various atrocities.

There are still some celebrities appearing at military bases in Arabia, but for every one that does, there's another who stands with the Dixie Chicks.

It took a while to get the bandwagon rolling, but after 6 years of war, Hollywood has begun churning out war movies.  This year has seen such fare as The Kingdom, Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, and now Lions for Lambs.  Two common themes unite these offerings.

The first is a disdain for the War on Terror, and to a large degree, those fighting it.  Rendition portrays an innocent and sympathetic Muslim, snatched out of a U.S. airport and whisked off to some Middle Eastern hellhole, for torture at the hands of CIA agents commanded by a parody of a Republican government official.  Rendition sees fit to cast the war through the light of American soldiers brutally abusing and murdering innocent Iraqis - based on an incident which (the movie does not consider of sufficient importance to mention) ended with the arrest, trial, and conviction of the individuals involved by the U.S. forces.

The other movies, at best, view our activities overseas as amoral, with the U.S. as no better than the terrorists, and oftentimes worse.  These films desire to balance the scales of history so as to accredit as much evil on the conventional "good guys", regardless of any motive or reason, so long as they were participating in the fighting too - sort of a motherly finger-wagging on everyone involved.

Last year's Munich, for instance, managed to scold the Israelis for responding to the Olympic massacre in 1976.  And there was Kingdom of Heaven which assured audiences that Christians originally started the whole Middle East conflict to begin with.

What a shocking contrast to the patriotism and loyalty of the Hollywood's golden age; Bob Hope and Bing Crosby must be rolling over in their graves.

But the truly astounding thing about this whole sorry record, the second common element which unites the lot, is that these antiwar movies are all losing money by the truckload!  Indignity after indignity comes for these star-studded disasters - Rendition was out-grossed by a re-release of a 14-year-old holiday special; Lions for Lambs was lapped by a universally-panned Santa takeoff.   It would be understandable, although no less unseemly, if the film industry kept making these movies because they were profitable.  But, film after film, release after release, opening night after opening night, the sound of chirping crickets resounds throughout the theaters as the audience stays home in droves.

We see revealed at last that, contrary to popular belief, the luminaries of Hollywood do not worship solely at the altar of Mammon.  There is a greater god that they worship, which can overwhelm even their legendary greed: and that is the shrine of "Blame America First."

As each of these films comes out and falls to the ground with a damp thud, we are reminded yet again that the studios and stars are willing to flush hundreds of millions of their own money in a futile attempt to get their own political views out - as if they are not already available from every other mass media organization coast-to-coast.

It's been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result; it would appear that all the therapists in LA aren't enough to solve this problem.

So on this Veteran's Day, we can honor our troops, for what it's worth, by the knowledge that the vast majority of Americans have no interest in such defeatist fare; and that those who generate it are thereby becoming poorer every day.

As Adam Smith tells us, wherever there is a clear demand in the market that is not being filled, sooner or later someone will fill it.  Let us hope that next Veteran's Day brings us a string of hugely popular and profitable movies that put our soldiers and our country in the place of honor so richly deserved, and so scurrilously withheld in recent years.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Brilliant.  Very well put.

November 12, 2007 3:04 PM

military good.  tv/hollywood/mtv bad.  blah, blah.  you right wingers are all the same.  funny though how you don't like hollywood because <among other things> it's too violent for your kids, but you do support the u.s. military which actively carries out untold evils around the world.  so the pretend is bad but the real thing is good?  ha!

November 12, 2007 4:29 PM

This is good - "So on this Veteran's Day, we can honor our troops, for what it's worth, by the knowledge that the vast majority of Americans have no interest in such defeatist fare; and that those who generate it are thereby becoming poorer every day".

Here's to that.

November 12, 2007 8:46 PM

I occasionally live in India.  I have noticed the same progression with our Hindi cinema: what you call "Bollywood".  I believe that Hindi cinema is about 30 years behind the US regarding loyalty and patriotism.  I am interested to know why performance artists and writers are subject to this.  Is it just a need to "push the edge" such that their audience finds them unqiue and fresh?

November 13, 2007 8:11 AM

to nihilistic: you left-wingers support abortion, the killing of an innocent child who never even had a chance to live, yet abhor the death penalty, which kills those who would rape your daughter, son, mother, etc.

you question almost everything the media says thinking that almost all of it is part of the right-wing conspiracy by the government to murder every last person who lives in poverty and turn the rich into robber barons, but when they spew anti-war bullsh** you just jump right along with it.

and then you call the army evil because they have to perform some unpleasant tasks in order to stop terrorists, dictators, and other people who would rather see everyone they disagree with hung by the neck. congrats, sir, you are a hypocrite and an asshole.

November 14, 2007 9:16 PM

You know, this is right on.  Nihilistic is just about as politically  retarded as they come.  SOMEBODY wasn't listening in high school civics class.  I'm active duty Navy, and it seems people forget that we follow orders.  If I'm sent to Iraq or the Persian Gulf (again!), I'll do what I'm told unless it's just not right.  And then I'll stop.  For crying out loud - the military has the same rates for drunk driving as the cities we're in - yep!  Sounds like brainwashing to me!!!  I think I know enough people here to say I have a pretty good idea of where these people are at morally.  If you don't support the politicians - FINE!  But get with the program and support the only people who would defend America with weapons should somebody try to take over our country!!!  Nevertheless, I put my life on the line for idiots like Nihilistic.  *sigh.

November 14, 2007 9:16 PM

Most Americans have NO IDEA what an "order" is in the military because there is no civilian equivalent.  When you take a job, you sell your boss the right to tell you what to do.  If the boss gives you an order, you have the right to refuse the order and he has the right to stop paying you.  It's dishonest to take the boss' pay and not do what you're told.

In the military, in contract, YOU CAN BE SHOT FOR DISOBEYING AN ORDER.  It doesn't happen often, but it CAN.  This is why there is no civilian equivalent to Derek's "we follow orders."  Follow they do.   They can fight my wars anytime.

November 16, 2007 8:26 PM
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