"It Just Was A Thing That Happened"
By Ed Driscoll · October 2, 2007 09:50 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Hollywood, Interrupted · Oh, That Liberal Media! · War And Anti-War
I am watching “Flags Of Our Fathers,” which I believed was a gritty, realistic, reverent account of the battle of Iwo Jima. It may yet become that. So far, aside from some horrifying battle sequences, it is movie about the cynical, callous exploitation of the famous flag-raising picture. Apparently every state-side government employee was a brittle, shallow, two-faced, glad-handing PR-minded ass who regarded soldiers as ignorant cattle. I also have the Japanese version of the movie, Letters from Iwo Jima. I have this odd feeling it will concern itself very little with the issues raised in this movie. I have the feeling I’ll be hearing a lot about honor.Tempting though it might be, this is one Hollywood trend you can't blame on President Bush or the War On Terror; as Mark Steyn wrote nearly a decade ago:
Purporting to be a recreation of the US landings on Omaha Beach, Private Ryan is actually an elite commando raid by Hollywood and the Hamptons to seize the past. After the spectacular D-Day prologue, the film settles down, Tom Hanks and his men are dispatched to rescue Matt Damon (the elusive Private Ryan) and Spielberg finds himself in need of the odd line of dialogue. Endeavouring to justify their mission to his unit, Hanks's sergeant muses that, in years to come when they look back on the war, they'll figure that `maybe saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we managed to pull out of this whole godawful mess'. Once upon a time, defeating Hitler and his Axis hordes bent on world domination would have been considered `one decent thing'. Even soppy liberals figured that keeping a few million more Jews from going to the gas chambers was `one decent thing'. When fashions in victim groups changed, ending the Nazi persecution of pink-triangled gays was still `one decent thing'. But, for Spielberg, the one decent thing is getting one GI joe back to his picturesque farmhouse in Iowa.You could see that same worldview hidden beneath an otherwise much more comic book version of war in Paul Verhoeven's 1997 film of Starship Troopers. Writer-director Lionel Chetwynd (who wrote the made-for-TV movie starring Tom Selleck as Ike) described to Cathy Seipp his encounter with that same attitude when he pitched a story about the allies' attack on the French town of Dieppe in 1942:
When Chetwynd was a successful Hollywood writer specializing in historical dramas, he told the Dieppe story during a Malibu dinner party — as a sort of tribute to the men who died there so people could sit around debating politics at Malibu dinner parties. One of the guests was a network head who asked Chetwynd to come in and pitch the story.I'm not sure when such a worldview developed; though James Piereson would argue this was the flashpoint. But in any case, the mindset that fuels Hollywood's dangerously self-destructive cocktail of nihilism and a punitive blind spot regarding America and its role in the world is surprisingly similiar to the elite news media's long-running sense of aloofness and cosmopolitanism.
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