Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Man Date Update

Last weekend I went on a man date with Wyatt. We saw the very masculine movie “Kung Fu Hustle” and found it to be enormously entertaining (though apparently not everyone agreed with us. At least ten people walked out in the first half hour.) We were confident enough of our heterosexuality to not require an empty “gay buffer” chair between the two of us.

The only slightly gay part of the evening was when, on the drive home, we admitted to one another that we had enjoyed the movie “Pieces of April.” Wyatt buffered his admission by saying that he saw it against his will and liked it despite low expectations, but I had to admit that not only had my rental of “Pieces of April” been my choice, I had also watched it by myself. By the way, the conversation arrived at “Pieces of April” via the very masculine route of “Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle.” (Ten bonus points if you know the connection.)

So, having enjoyed my last man date so much I was looking forward to another. Perhaps, I thought, we should go and see “The Interpreter.” But then I came across Mark Steyn’s Column in today’s Telegraph:

The Sean Penn thriller, The Interpreter, was originally about Muslim terrorists blowing up a bus in New York. So, naturally, Hollywood called rewrite. Now the bus gets blown up by African terrorists from the little-known republic of Matobo. "We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way," said Kevin Misher, the producer.

Politics? It’s not politics! There are no politics involved when your country is in the middle of a life and death struggle with an implacable foe! Political correctness means ignoring the blindingly obvious: the terrorists are Muslims. The worst example of this in recent years was Ben Affleck’s abominable adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel, The Sum of All Fears. Steyn remembered that film debacle as well:

But, when every movie goes out of its way to avoid being "encumbered", it starts to look like a pathology. Whenever some hapless studio exec finds he's accidentally optioned a property that happens to have Islamist terrorists in it, the first thing he does is change the enemy. Thus, the baddies in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears were de-Islamicised and transformed into German neo-Nazis, a very pressing threat to America in 2005.

Imagine it's 1943, you're at a Warner Bros script meeting about Casablanca, and Jack Warner says: "I like it. But do the bad guys have to be Germans? How about if we re-set it in Massachusetts and make them sinister British neo-Redcoats?"

If Hollywood would come out with a movie where American troops were portrayed as good guys battling Islamofascists the movie would not only reflect the truth, it would also be an enormous blockbuster. I have hopes for the flick that Harrison Ford is supposedly doing about the Battle of Fallujah, but I’ll probably be disappointed.

Update: I saw The Interpreter last night and changing the Muslim bomber into a Sub-Sahara African made perfect sense and did no violence whatsoever to the story. Still, it was cowardly to make the switch out of a fear of being labeled a jingoist.

I liked The Interpreter although I could have done without the subplot involving the death/adultery of Sean Penn’s ex-wife. I could have also done without lessons on ancient Motubu wisdom. And though I generally have a very keen ability to suspend disbelief (I had no problem with the bit in Sahara where Matthew McConaughey shoots down a helicopter with a Civil War cannon that had been buried in the sands of the desert for 150 years) this movie seemed implausible at many points (why was the President of Motubu left alone in the U.N.’s green room just moments after an attempt on his life?) If the film had taken itself less seriously I’d let them get away with that sort of thing, but the movie was pretentious, so I couldn’t.

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