Sunday, November 28, 2004

Where are the Hollywood Big Mouths?

What if a teacher was gunned down for teaching? What if a Doctor is gunned down for doctoring? What if a pastor is gunned down for pastoring? What would happen? I'm willing to bet for each incidence that maybe teachers, doctors and pastors would stand up and speak out demanding justice.

Well now, what if a filmmaker is murdered in broad daylight for making a film? Would filmmakers speak out? Would they be activist in demanding justice? Obviously, the answer is no. Some have argued that the outspoken celebrities of the election actually assisted in getting the opposition elected, but now they are silent. Celebs are more than happy to speak out obnoxiously on issues were they have no expertise or credibility, but now the issue presents itself where they have perfect expertise and credibility. What action do they choose? Silence....and it is deafening.
One would think that in the name of artistic freedom, the creative community would take a stand against filmmakers being sent into hiding à la Salman Rushdie, or left bleeding in the street. Yet we've heard nary a peep from Hollywood about the van Gogh slaying. Indeed Hollywood has long walked on eggshells regarding the topic of Islamic fundamentalism. The film version of Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" changed Palestinian terrorists to neo-Nazis out of a desire to avoid offending Arabs or Muslims. The war on terror is a Tinsel Town taboo, even though a Hollywood Reporter poll showed that roughly two-thirds of filmgoers surveyed would pay to see a film on the topic.

In a recent conversation with a struggling liberal screenwriter, I brought up the Clancy film as an example of Hollywood shying away from what really affects filmgoers--namely, the al Qaeda threat vs. the neo-Nazi threat. He vehemently defended the script switch. "It's an easy target," he said of Arab terrorism, repeating this like a parrot, then adding, "It's a cheap shot." How many American moviegoers would think that scripting Arab terrorists as the enemy in a fiction film is a "cheap shot"? In fact, it's realism; it's what touches lives world-wide. It's this disconnect with filmgoers that has left the Hollywood box office bleeding by the side of the road.(/snip)

The writer goes on to discuss the emergence of conservative filmmakers:
A month before the election, the Liberty Film Festival in West Hollywood generated a palpable excitement among conservatives in the industry and those lining up to catch a glimpse of the flicks. The diverse and hip crowd joined producers Stephen K. Bannon ("In the Face of Evil"), Lionel Chetwynd ("Celsius 41.11"), Doug Urbanski ("The Contender"), Mr. Zucker and others.

One film, by's Evan Maloney, "Brainwashing 101," highlighted attempts to stifle free speech on college campuses. After the film, an immigrant in the audience who identified himself as Boris angrily proclaimed, "This is just like Soviet Union!"

Another film, "Relentless," exposed Yasser Arafat's doublespeak in favor of the destruction of Israel and chillingly showed children on a Palestinian TV show expressing their desire to be suicide bombers, urged on by the host--who blew herself up in Jerusalem a week before the screening.

Movie after movie showed filmmakers on the edge, taking risks, telling truths that needed to be told. But Mr. van Gogh paid the ultimate price to make his film, and the ensuing silence of a community purportedly so interested in free speech is maddening. Agree with the man or not, what warranted his violent death?

Giving Hollywood the benefit of the doubt, I did one more search to find industry response to the van Gogh murder. I found the blog of novelist and screenwriter Roger L. Simon, who confirmed that I wasn't the only one who'd been wondering: "It's stunning how silent the American artistic community, Hollywood in particular, has been about the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam," he wrote. "Do they even know what happened to one of their own? Have they even heard of him? Do they care someone was killed for making a film which protested violent abuse against women? Are they even interested?"

Hollywood = Hypocrisy: Somebody prove me wrong.

Link via Brain Terminal