Jewish World Review April 22, 2005/ 13 Nisan, 5765
"The Interpreter," a new movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, is a thriller about a terrorist assassination plot at the United Nations. The Wall Street Journal's "Hollywood Report" ran a piece last week detailing how the picture has been "changed" since it was first conceived about 10 years ago. Nothing unusual about that finished movies almost never resemble their original concepts. There was one major change in the story that I found interesting, however.
The terrorists in the story, as originally written by two screenwriters, were to have come from a fictional Middle Eastern country. Throughout the 90's the script bounced from producer to producer, each claiming the story just wasn't ready to be filmed in its present form. Finally Kevin Misher became interested in the project and the plot was reworked.
Because of the 9/11 attacks by Middle Eastern terrorists in 2001, Misher didn't want to make the terrorists in his movie Middle Eastern. "We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way," Misher said. So now the assassination plot involves a fictional African country called Matobo. Matobo great name.
Did you get that? He didn't want to "encumber the film in politics." What is he talking about? Middle Eastern terrorists have been blowing people up all over the world for years. Are there terrorists that come from other regions? Yes. But the preeminent terrorist danger to the civilized world right now happens to be oozing out of the Middle East, not Africa, not Northern Ireland, not Antarctica. Besides, in the original treatment the Middle Eastern country mentioned was also fictional. Why is it okay to have terrorists from a fictional country in Africa, but not from a fictional country in the Mid East?
Is Misher afraid of offending Middle Eastern Islamists? Is he scared for his life? Does he want to avoid Arab "racial profiling?" My sense is, the guy is in liberal Hollywood denial over Islamic Wahhabi terrorism. If he doesn't want to "encumber his film in politics," then instead of making a film on terrorism maybe he should have produced the next Benji picture. No politics? Almost every movie to come out of Hollywood in the last fifteen years has had a leftist political bent. Who is he kidding?
This isn't the first time Hollywood changed the ethnicity of terrorists from Arab to something else in a movie. Who are they afraid of insulting Arab terrorists? Funny how they've never worried about changing the ethnicity of Italian Americans in all the gangster/Mafia movies they made.
The fact is, Hollywood does not want to make movies about Arab terrorists, or the Iraq war, or radical Islam's jihad against the western world. As far as show biz is concerned the World Trade Center's Twin Towers fell down because of high winds. The Pentagon was hit by a gaggle of crazed geese. And all the Americans that were killed were killed by Republicans living in Orange County.
Funny how things have changed. Movies didn't have any problem in depicting the rotten Germans in World War I and II. No problem in calling the Japanese our enemy for bombing Pearl Harbor. There have been plenty of films made about the cold war with no hesitation in referring to the Russians as Russians. Imagine a producer making a cold war spy picture and saying he "doesn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way." Why then, this current reluctance to call a Muslim terrorist a Muslim terrorist?
If you're waiting for Hollywood to make some old fashioned patriotic movies like they did in the 40's concerning today's enemies, you've got a long wait. Ain't gonna happen. No, they'll continue to make patriotic period pictures of good ol' World War II, because it's safe to hate Nazis, but not today's wars with today's enemies.
As a matter of fact, the reason they won't make ANY movies concerning Arab terrorism and the war in the Middle East is because they don't know how to do it. They know that the vast majority of Americans support our military efforts in the war on terror, but to make a pro-American film on the war on terror would be going against the European elitist attitude, the leftist thinking in our own media, the vast majority of university professors and administrators, not to mention their own personal politics. On the other hand, if they make a film that smacks of a pro-Arab or pro-Muslim viewpoint, Middle America will stay home in droves.
So if Hollywood makes any more films with plots revolving around terrorist activities, expect to hear a lot more fairy tale country names, like Maldaviana, Kendaro, Transgovia and AbbaZabbastan.
The Hollywood "dream factory" has always been expert at turning out the pure make-believe stuff, that's what they've always done best. Talking animals, flying monkeys, outer space adventures, and middle earth denizens are what Hollywood can do all day long with great success. When they attempt to rewrite history or preach their social agendas to their audience, that's when they start to lose it.
Fairy tales, mythologies, and flights of fantasy have been the bread and butter of the movie industry for a century. Considering the world political views and mentality of most producers and film executives today, they would do well to stick to that proven formula and stay away from "real life" like terrorism.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.