"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Answer: yes, but the raw material ain't that smart to start with

Powerline has an interesting article on Hollywood and its love/hate (mostly hate, it seems) relationship with military subject matter of late (http://powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/03/025795.php); it's titled - rhetorically, IMHO - "Does Hollywood Make You Stupid?" In selling his latest collaboration with Steven Spielberg and HBO, Tom Hanks has some fairly thick-headed comments on America's involvement in World War II and the striking - to the Hollywood mind, anyway - parallels to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hanks' hand has helped create some of the most profoundly moving and historically accurate big- and small-screen entertainment in recent years. "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" stand as two works of art that bring the Greatest Generation's suffering and triumph on the field of battle to unvarnished life. Yet apparently the reading of history done to produce those gems wasn't deep enough to supercede the Howard Zinn/Noam Chomsky theory of life. To reduce the causes of World War II to some cultural misunderstanding based on racism is both insulting to the Allied men who fought and displays a disappointing intellectual laziness on the Hanks' part (not that I've ever thought Hanks untouched by intellectual laziness - he did, after all, star in the screen adaptations of Dan Brown's slanders of the Catholic Church/art travelogue for dummies; but when it came to the Second World War, he seemed to 'get it'). So: we fought the Japanese Empire because they were slant-eyed yellow devils who were "different" and not because they bombed the crap out of us first, raped and pillaged China and most of the rest of the Pacific rim, and were poised to establish their own version of the Reich based on a similar notion of racial superiority? Shame on us, I guess. Now, I have no doubt that HBO's "The Pacific" series will equal the quality of "Band of Brothers", and I also have no doubt that someday I'll own the DVD boxed set because it's HBO, it's based on the some of the best military memoirs written about that war, and it's Marines kicking ass everywhere they go. I'm just tired of our entertainers continually displaying their own ignorance of and antipathy toward those many occasions when American greatness changed the world.

At the bottom, the article also briefly touches on Hollywood's latest anti-Iraq box office bomb, Matt Damon's "Green Zone" (so loosely based on the book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" that Damon's character isn't even in the original). I haven't read the book but I believe it examines the well-documented disconnect between the CPA and military (and CPA and rest of the country it was supposed to be re-constructing). Damon and director Paul Greengrass evidently decided to distill that to the popular "Bush lied/people died" mantra (popular in Hollywood; not so much in the real world, as evidenced by its weak opening weekend) and then throw in a splash of Jason Bourne to make it more interesting. Not interesting enough, as it turns out; "Green Zone" is well on its way to joining a long series of anti-Iraq duds which, in the wake of "The Hurt Locker"'s success, certainly does beg the question: is Hollywood stupid? Time and time again, the movie-going public has pointedly avoided Tinseltown's take on the War on Terror, yet Hollywood's lefties insist on churning them out at enormous financial loss. I suppose the directors and producers think this is about principle, not money; and so long as they're not wasting my money, I suppose I don't care. But at some point, shouldn't movie financiers take these principled idiots into a room, lock the door, and beat the snot out of them until they agree to make movies that TURN A PROFIT? As my darling wife would say, "whatever"; I won't lose sleep over it, and there's some comfort in the knowledge that Big Hollywood's version of Iraq is doomed to the dollar bin at Wal-mart.

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