Where Were You When the Title Card Stopped Turning?

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Liberal blogger TBogg has a hilarious blow-by-blow account of conservative activist Jason Apuzzo's quest to discover whether the ending of "United 93" had been altered by the studio. Originally the film ended with a title card reading: "America's war on terror had begun." But The Village Voice reported that the title card had been changed for public screenings, to "Dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001." This sent Apuzzo reeling.

… we now know that there apparently is a 'chill wind' blowing on free speech in America, and that 'chill wind' is coming from Hollywood's executive suites, where apparently some thoughts still aren't allowed…

Of course, we will hear no cries of 'censorship' from liberals about all this, because the cultural Left wishes to de-couple the emotionally shocking events of 9/11 with the ongoing War on Terror. The Thought Police have won on this one, and it's a shame.

As it happened, the studio didn't cut the title card. Director Paul Greengrass did, because "when I saw that particular card at the end, I thought 'that's not right' because that's going to divide people."

Apuzzo fixed his previous post on the subject with a shrug.

I understand Greengrass' desire to avoid making a 'political' statement, but the original postscript to his film simply states a fact: America's war on terror had, indeed, begun with the passengers of Flight 93 fighting back! It's not as if the postscript read: Vote for Giuliani in '08.

This crystalizes a view that's been fairly prevalent among pro-war journalists, critics, and bloggers. "United 93" is more than a movie—it's going to help the president and the war effort by reminding Americans of "That Day." Rush Limbaugh got a screening and predicted it would "refocus, for those who see it, the exact reason we are in the war on terror." Dennis Prager intimated that the people who won't like the movie are "those who don't want Americans to become aware of just how conscienceless, cruel and depraved our enemy is, or those who think that our enemies can always be negotiated with and therefore object to depicting Americans actually fighting back."

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  1. And every German who was alive in the 1940s and didn’t want to watch Schindler’s List is pro-Nazi!

  2. For fuck’s sake…
    can’t anything just be apolitical anymore?

    Why can’t it really just be a tribute to the people who perished, without it having to be fucking co-opted by asshats with an agenda trying to use it to prove the correctness of their position and the incorrectness of their opponents position.

  3. Yes, now that I am aware of how conscienceless, cruel and depraved those behind 9-11 are, I can refocus on why we needed to invade Iraq and why our government doesn’t need to heed our (or anyone else’s) civil liberties anymore.

    Do these conservatives really believe that those who disagree with do so cause they think, aw those terrorists aren’t really so bad, we don’t need to worry about them…?

  4. we live in the hyperreal age of farce. say what you will about those silly frenchmen and their deconstructionist tendencies, call it heterotopia or simulacra, but whatever the fuck it is, it’s insane.

    everyone who is not for you is against you. and not nearly as smart or attractive!

    is this a side effect of being in continuous communication? maybe we really are this boring, stupid, predictable and silly.

  5. I suppose, Tom, that was the motivator for Greengrass to be rid of the “war on terror” card. God for him. He did the right (as opposed to Right) thing. Besides, having a war on 19 dead loonies really is a silly notion.

    JMJ

  6. Regardless of the subject or message of a “major motion picture,” show business is business.

  7. I read a pretty angry review of the film. It pointed out the fact that 10% of the film’s weekend opening ticket sales was going to be given to the 9/11 victim’s fund. The reviewer was going nuts that the filmakers were attempting to get some sort of moral highground by giving some of the money to the relatives but at the same time grinding them down to a measly ten percent of a two day window. Not sure if that’s fair but there’s perhaps a faint whiff of exploitation.

  8. A really nice ending title card would read “America’s war on terror had begun. But unlike later on, at least the Americans on this flight tackled their actual attackers.”

  9. How about NO title card? Title cards suck.

  10. This is the silliest cause for ranting ever. Seriously, we’re not talking about substituting the last 10 minutes of the film with an interview with Michael Moore. It’s a fucking title card. The old text was okay; the new text is also okay. Neither is winning any awards for well-crafted phrasing anytime soon.

    I don’t think, as has been suggested, that we live in a culture of hate, or fear, or negativity. We live in a culture of perpetual outrage. Whatever ‘the other guy’ does, or seems to do, is the OMG Worst Thing Evar. Everything that can be even slightly flavored with political secret sauce becomes the Waterloo of the culture wars. And then, in a few weeks or less, it’s gone from public and blog awareness, never to return except as a bullet point in a year-end round-up of why the other side is Evil And Wrong.

    This ongoing meta-conversation about reporting seems like a lot of handwaving and distraction from actual, you know, issues. Like civil liberties, like national defense (or lack thereof), like nuclear proliferation, like biotechnology.

    But outrage grabs readers and pageviews, I suppose, and is safe ground for pundits that have no real ideas of their own.

  11. For fuck’s sake…
    can’t anything just be apolitical anymore?

    Why can’t it really just be a tribute to the people who perished, without it having to be fucking co-opted by asshats with an agenda trying to use it to prove the correctness of their position and the incorrectness of their opponents position.

    Or, failing that, can’t anybody just be out to make a fast buck by making their exploitation of tragedy appeal to as broad a segment of the populous? Alienating people based on politics is a dumb business move for the entertainment industry.

    Not that I have a problem with movie studios making a cynical buck. But I just can’t bring myself to think of this as a tribute.

  12. PS: I am so damn tired of hearing the words ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’ used in connection with the actions of a private enterprise. You don’t get free speech on someone else’s dime, and it isn’t censorship if I decide I don’t want to pay for your megaphone.

  13. dhex,
    “is this a side effect of being in continuous communication? maybe we really are this boring, stupid, predictable and silly.”

    This scares me, too.

  14. “This is the silliest cause for ranting ever. . . . But outrage grabs readers and pageviews, I suppose, and is safe ground for pundits that have no real ideas of their own.”

    So what you’re saying is that you are outraged against outrage?

  15. I pretty much agree with Lunchstealer above –

    Isnt the thing worth objecting to that they made a commercial, dramatized hollywood film out of the event in the first place?

    I mean, not that there’s any rule against it – but I think it’s just ….tasteless on it’s own…. regardless of what the #~^@!*$ title cards are.

    I would have less problem with straight up ‘why we fight’ propaganda… it just kind of gets my goat because we’re making commercial entertainment out of tragic misfortune.

    Not that that’s a new thing = but I think there are certainly better ways to treat a topic/event than make a ‘die hard’ style drama out of it.

    JG

  16. The first title was absurdly jingostic. The second translates to “Sure, we used this story to make a buck, but it’s okay because we’re making the appropriate noises about this being a tribute.” I’m with Tim Cavanaugh. No cards is a better option.

  17. Pick a card, any card. Go fish.

    This is a pretty lame, who cares.

  18. America’s war on title cards has begun.

  19. Mark writes: “The reviewer was going nuts that the filmakers were attempting to get some sort of moral highground by giving some of the money to the relatives but at the same time grinding them down to a measly ten percent of a two day window. Not sure if that’s fair but there’s perhaps a faint whiff of exploitation.”

    The way box office results are these days, most of the business *is* in the opening weekend, and then drops off rapidly. Especially if the movie wasn’t very good, but it affects most movies at varying rates of decline.

    Movies don’t even stay in theaters that long these days…

  20. I think everyone’s overlooking the most important question about this film. Do we get to see any tits?

  21. Shouldn’t that be “America’s war on violent extremism had begun.”?

  22. It is the director’s job to decide what goes and what stays in the film, according to his own criteria. If he likes one title card better than other, he should change and not have to explain.

    As for the critics, if the only thing they complain about is that title card, then he’s very lucky.

  23. “I think everyone’s overlooking the most important question about this film. Do we get to see any tits?”

    I think the very first on-screen titty I’ve ever seen was in the movie “Airplane” back in the 70s.

    So yeah, having a topless woman run across the shot during the climax would definitely make this flick more credible to me.

  24. our enemies hate our freedom to have topless women in our movies

  25. Will it be as good a war movie as ‘Tora Tora Tora!’? My crystal ball says no.

  26. “Airplane!” is a truly great movie. The IMdB has some nice quotes:

    “Steve McCroskey: This fog is getting thicker.
    Johnny: And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.”

    “Ted Striker: It’s Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he’s Ethel Merman.
    Lieutenant Hurwitz: [singing] You’ll be swell, you’ll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin’ here, startin’ now. Honey, everything’s comin’ up roses..”

    “Elaine Dickinson: There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”

    Panic ensues.

    The best 9-11 film is “Team America” though.

  27. “Airplane!” is a truly great movie. The IMdB has some nice quotes:

    “Steve McCroskey: This fog is getting thicker.
    Johnny: And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.”

    “Ted Striker: It’s Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he’s Ethel Merman.
    Lieutenant Hurwitz: [singing] You’ll be swell, you’ll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin’ here, startin’ now. Honey, everything’s comin’ up roses..”

    “Elaine Dickinson: There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”

    Panic ensues.

    The best 9-11 film is “Team America” though.

  28. “Airplane!” is a truly great movie. The IMDb has some nice quotes:

    “Steve McCroskey: This fog is getting thicker.
    Johnny: And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.”

    “Ted Striker: It’s Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he’s Ethel Merman.
    Lieutenant Hurwitz: [singing] You’ll be swell, you’ll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin’ here, startin’ now. Honey, everything’s comin’ up roses..”

    “Elaine Dickinson: There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”

    Panic ensues.

    The best 9-11 film is “Team America” though.

  29. I wonder in the United 93 movie they have two jive-talking passengers with subtitles?

    That would up the taste factor of this project.

  30. Rush Limbaugh got a screening and predicted it would “refocus, for those who see it, the exact reason we are in the war on terror.”

    Yes, I imagine it will. Saddam Hussein doesn’t appear anywhere in the movie, to the best of my knowledge.

  31. I like the way Apuzzo thinks it’s wrong for the ending to remind people of the victims and their families, rather than of politics. Tells you a lot about his priorities.

    Because, of course, we all know that the most important thing that happened that day had to do with American foreign policy.

  32. joe:

    Maybe it will also remind people that for all our bluster and pissing the entire world off, we haven’t gotten the guy who funded/organized/inspired/ordered said terror act. Then note the absence of Iraqis in the operation and put 2+2 together.

    Sadly, evidence to date doesn’t suggest it’s likely.

  33. I can’t help thinking that had the title card read “America’s war on terror had begun”, some pundit would have an argument against that as well. People always seem find what just they’re looking for with this stuff.

  34. For fuck’s sake… can’t anything just be apolitical anymore?

    I seem to remember a few weeks after 9/11 that the conservatives were bloviating about how the MSM wasn’t showing footage of the attacks as often as they would have liked. They claimed that without a constant reminder of the events of that day, we’d lose the resolve to fight the (largely imaginary) Islamofascist hoards threatening to bring down good, clean, white, Christian, America. To the War-pigs like Apuzzo and Limbaugh, every depiction of the 9/11 attacks, whether it’s raw footage of the airliners crashing into the WTC towers to dramatic presentations like this, meant to be America’s Two Minute Hate ala 1984.

    Yes, I forgot 9-11… or at least I would be able to if it wasn’t for the GOP jingoists who keep dredging it up. I have better things to do with my life.

  35. Akira MacKenzie wrote: “To the War-pigs like Apuzzo and Limbaugh, every depiction of the 9/11 attacks, whether it’s raw footage of the airliners crashing into the WTC towers to dramatic presentations like this, is meant to be America’s Two Minute Hate ala 1984.”

    On the subject of people who glory in the 9/11 footage:

    http://www.churchofeuthanasia.org/iltow_300k.wmv

    BTW, that link is *not* work safe.

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