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August 11, 2005

Terror-Apologism Summer Blockbusters!

All right, even I'll say it: the Right Must Boycott.

George Clooney, Oliver Stone, the Siblings Gyllenhaalenahallyllenahall, Mat Damon... all the gang's here and set to sap America's morale.

I still can't figure out why Steven Spielberg is making a movie about the Munich massacre that actually "humanizes" the Palestinian terrorists and dwells on the horrors perpetrated by... the Mossad agents who tracked those terrorists down and killed them. He's a big donor to the Holocaust Museum, he sounded moderate notes (which is extreme right wing for Hollywood) on Saddam Hussein and the War in Iraq... and now he'll be making a movie which, if not quite justifying the Olympic slaughter, will at least go a long way towards suggesting "They were both equally wrong, in their own ways."

I guess I know why prestige movies take the terrorists' side and as far as rah-rah stuff we get dreck like Stealth. It's always considered more mature and deeper to critically examine one's self, or one's country, and to reach out and try to understand one's enemies.

But I would say there are some cases where that general rule fails. Would anyone in Hollywood greenlight a sympathetic portrait of the Nazis? Or of James Byrd's killers?

How much barbarity does an enemy have to engage in before the reflexive masocistic impulse of liberals to "look at our own behavior" gets toggled off? Apparently 2800 deaths (and counting!) just isn't enough.

Meanwhile, of course, no such critical self-examination is going on in the Muslim world. Okay, yes, actually, there is some; one reads editorials from time to time suggesting a wholesale re-examination of principles. But Muslim pop culture isn't telling world Muslims that terrorism is bad; it continues to justify it.

And Hollywood's right there with them.

Thanks to JMSanchez.

Update: Hubris says he'll wait to judge the movie once it's actually made.

Kid, we're bloggers. Off-the-cuff opinions based on sketchy information are our stock in trade.

But This Ain't It Cool News link he provides, quoting a long NY piece on the film, does seem to demonstrate my opinion isn't that off-the-cuff, or the current information all that sketchy:

Mr. Spielberg's interest in the question of a civilized nation's proper response to terrorism deepened, aides said, after the 9/11 attacks, as Americans were grappling for the first time with similar issues - for instance, in each new lethal strike on a suspected terrorist leader by a C.I.A. Predator drone aircraft. In Mr. Kushner's script, people who have read it say, the Israeli assassins find themselves struggling to understand how their targets were chosen, whether they belonged on the hit list and, eventually, what, if anything, their killing would accomplish.

"What comes through here is the human dimension," said Mr. Ross, formerly the Middle East envoy for Mr. Clinton, who has advised the filmmakers on the screenplay and helped Mr. Spielberg reach out to officials in the region. "You're contending with an enormously difficult set of challenges when you have to respond to a horrific act of terror. Not to respond sends a signal that actions are rewarded and the perpetrators can get away with it. But you have to take into account that your response may not achieve what you wish to achieve, and that it may have consequences for people in the mission."

Mr. Spielberg's statement indicated that, despite the implications for other conflicts, his movie - to be shot in Malta, Budapest and New York - was aimed squarely at the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

"Viewing Israel's response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms," he said. "By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today."

Tragic... standoff? A Mexican standoff is where you all have guns but no one fires first.

This must be a different sort of standoff. One in which a group of people keep blowing up pizzerias and weddings and the other group occasionally kills those who are doing the killing.

I will admit that there wouldn't be much real internal human drama (and thus it wouldn't be a prestige picture at all) if the Mossad agents did not doubt and wrestle with their mission. It's that sort of thing that wins Oscars. Well, to be honest, it's that sort of internal conflict that separates a real movie from a popcorn bang-bang movie.

But... is it appropriate here? That is the standard template for this sort of movie, a serious movie about violence. But if the template doesn't really fit, you've got to get another template, or you've got to abandon the project as unworkable.

Let's review the facts. The Palestinian terrorists slaughtered 19 innocent Israeli athletes. The German government who captured them arrangned with the Palestinians to have a German plane "hijacked," so that they would have an excuse to release the terrorists without looking like, well, Germans. Denied any sort of judicial justice, the Isrealis sought justice of the extra-judicial sort.

And this is a cause for hand-wringing crybaby self-doubt?

Maybe this picture will tell us a lot about the Palestinian-Israeli "standoff" -- they kill innocents, the Israelis kill the killers of innocents, and then even feel guilty about doing so -- but perhaps not quite what Mr. Spielberg intends to tell us.

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posted by Ace at 12:56 PM

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