Steven Spielberg Presents "The Eternal Arab"

|

Give Andrew Klavan some credit—it takes guts to write this in the LA Times and expect to ever get invited to any party ever again.

We need some films celebrating the war against Islamo-fascism in Afghanistan and Iraq—and in Iran as well, if and when that becomes necessary.

It takes guts, yes, but not reason. Klavan's argument is basically that Hollywood should—nay, must—return to the glory days of "Action in the North Atlantic" and "The Fighting Seabees." Not only would a wave of War On Terror propaganda films give the smart-ass college students of the future something to make fun of between Chinese classes and English lit (English 101: Darkness and Light in the Prose of Kaavya Viswanathan). They would stiffen our national backbone and gin us up to thwart the greatest enemy in the history of the universe—the Islamofascists. And while we're at it, let's cut it out with those gloomy movies, too.

Since the '60s, we have had, it seems, an endless string of war movies, from "Dr. Strangelove" to "Syriana," in which the United States is depicted as wildly aggressive and endlessly corrupt—which, in fact, it's not; which, in fact, it never has been.

I'm not even sure that the laws of physics allow us to mock a statement like that. Let's leave it for those future college students.

Klavan's chief problem, apart from his general lunacy, is his misunderstanding of America's foreign policy challenges. He believes the "outcome of the struggle" (the war v. "Islamofascism") is "much in doubt," and that it's potentially a greater challenge than World War II. That's an assessment at odds with our own government's. To fight the "good war," the government massively raised taxes, conscripted able-bodied men, rationed food and other goods, curtailed civil liberties, and basically demanded daily, grave sacrifices from all Americans. In order to fight the war on terror, our government's done none of this (apart from the civil liberties thing). There's no enemy army launching invasions or defending turf. There's no political leader who can be driven to surrender. The closest thing we have to a strategy is building up and democratizing Middle East nations, winning their citizens over from radical Islam to secular, West-friendly Islam. How would a wave of U.S. propaganda films, crafted to get Americans' blood pumping about Islam and terrorism, go over in occupied Iraq?

NEXT: The Surgeon General Warns You that Public Urination Is Harmful To Our Health...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maybe these new “glory of war” movies can have lead in cartoons like “Bugs Tugs the Towels”.

  2. “…Thwart the greatest enemy in the history of the Universe”?
    Having we been watching “Superfriends”?

  3. I’m going to make a movie that’s nothing but shots of American flags waving over war cemeteries, accompanied by inspiring and stirring music. Goddammit, it’ll kick ass. Everyone will be required to stand at attention while watching it.

  4. Why is it always the movies that have to be better for us to win wars? Why do movies outrank better counterinsurgency tactics, or military procurement that doesn’t view missile defense as being worth five times as much as the entire Marine Corps, as our best weapon in war?

    Perhaps if more people had gone to see John Wayne in “The Green Berets” our tactics in Vietnam would have been more effective.

  5. Americans as of right now appear that they are perhaps unwilling to make event he smallest sacrifices in purpuit of middle eastern democracy. That’s the whole point he’s making. Even a little support from the enterainment industry could go a long way towards strengthening our resolve to see our obligation to iraq through to the end. Showing the barbarity of the men tryign to hinder our efforts would certainly help in that regard. I figured that much was obvious.

    Geez, and you are saying he’s the loony one.

  6. This is truly the greatest threat to ever face our country. The Soviet nuclear arsenal, the industrial might of Japan and Germany, and the global superpower that was the British Empire cannot compare with the combined might of Bin Laden and his handful of surviving henchmen.

    If you don’t believe me, just read this article:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27999

    If we are to defeat this unprecedented threat, we must surrender whatever liberty still remained to us, and spend even more money on defense. Otherwise we are doomed! For they have boxcutters and they know how to use them!

  7. I just saw part of The Green Berets. It’s a different experience watching that movie since Sulu came out of the closet. If it ever comes out that he and the Duke were an item–not that there’s anything wrong with that–I may move to Australia.

  8. OK, what right-wing blog has linked to this posting?

  9. Reminds me of the demands conservatives have been making that the teevee nooz show more footage of WTC victims in their death throes. More bodies! More bodies!

    One side keeps using facts, and the keeps demanding emotionally-manipulative imagery.

  10. thoreau, do not despair. We still have the Weapon of Mass Destruction? that is Hollywood. Soon, thanks to ideas garnered during the NSA’s monitoring of the radical Hit & Run blog, a government-sponsored movie called Muhammad: The Musical will be unleashed upon the world. Shortly thereafter, the entire Middle East will surrender to the U.S. and give us free oil.

  11. It is a little odd, isn’t it, that the only movies made to date about the Iraq war have had a distinctly anti flavor?

    Its kind of hard to believe no good stories to be told about the courage and sacrifice of Americans and Iraqis fighting barbaric theocrats and neo-Nazi thugs.

  12. Americans as of right now appear that they are perhaps unwilling to make event he smallest sacrifices in purpuit of middle eastern democracy. That’s the whole point he’s making.

    So they need to be convinced by Hollywood into making such sacrifices that they’d otherwise have no desire to make? And what sort of sacrifices are we are we talking about here? Every able bodied citizen signing up for a few tours of duty? saving alumimum foil? victory gardens? interment camps for muslims?

  13. Jeez, I supported the war, but this guy makes me want to protest it.

  14. Yeah Joe, I mean, I always hear conservatives asking for more WTC body footage, but never do I hear antiwar liberals beckoning for more Iraq/Afghanistan gore on TV. Nope. Not even once.

  15. Ever since “Birth Of A Nation” which praised the Ku Klux Klan, Hollywood and TV dramas have been on the sicko side (except during WWll when they opposed Nazis but covered for communism.) The whore with the heart of gold (“Pretty Woman”) The gangster as principled family man (“Godfather”), The US cavalry slaughtering innocent women and children (“Little Big Man”), most civil war dramas sympathized with the south, if you are watching a TV murder story and a character is a successful business man or a devout leader of an anonymous church, you know who the villain will be. The baddies of the CIA are almost stock characters. Even if Hollywood bought a book with communist or moslem baddies, the screen version changed the villains to rich madmen, intent on ruling the world(Most James Bond movies). When the TV show “24” featured moslem baddies last season, they were forced to issue an apology on air.
    Davmos

  16. davmos, the writers of 24 didn’t have to issue any apologies in the second season, which also featured Muslim baddies.

    I don’t know why they apologized in the 4th season, but the shitty writing certainly deserved an apology.

  17. So they need to be convinced by Hollywood into making such sacrifices that they’d otherwise have no desire to make? And what sort of sacrifices are we are we talking about here? Every able bodied citizen signing up for a few tours of duty? saving alumimum foil? victory gardens? interment camps for muslims?

    So what are you saying, that if people arent convinced that the war is worth fighting with the various arguement pro and against right now that it would somehow be wrong to hope that the entertainment industry might step up to try and sway the arguement towards the pro side?

    It seems to me that it’s fallen pretty strongly the against the war up until now. Is that wrong as well?

    As of right now people havn’t been asked to sacrifice a thing, but perhaps in the near fuure we may need to be more fiscally responcible and decide between a strong sustained war effort or larger spending on social programs.

    Your comment about internment camps is just a non-sequitor. There is no reason to think some pro-war movies would lead to that.

  18. davmos,

    So instead of whining about all that here, why don’t you start your damn studio and make millions appealing to all those would-be movie goers just itching to plop down bills to watch the good news about American and all that’s wholesome?

  19. semm,

    it would somehow be wrong to hope that the entertainment industry might step up to try and sway the arguement towards the pro side?

    Likewise, step up yourself. No, it’s not wrong to “hope.” But your whining about it is rather insufferable. Put your money where your mouth is if you’re so sure there’s something other than profit motive accounting for the nature of Hollywood’s output.

  20. If Hollywood is going to subject the public to the likes of X-Men United Divided, Sliced and Pureed, Mission Impossible I-X, War of the Worlds, V is for Vendetta, and all of the rest of the big budget cartoon garbage they put out, why not at least do it for a purpose? These movies are not made for the American audience anyway. They are written with as simple dialog possible so that they can be translated and sent overseas where the real money is. Things like coherent plot, content and dialog written for someone over the age of 7 are not part of the formula. What the hell, maybe if they made big budget propaganda movies a few of them might have the desired effect and people might like the U.S. more. You never know, the movies might get better. The worst WW II propaganda movies are still better than the crap they are making now. The bottomline is Hollywood has hit absolute cultural rock bottom and cannot make any worse movies than what is being made today. It can only go up. What would be the harm of trying something different?

  21. Granted, it’s a TV series and not a movie, but FX’s Over There was a show pretty much dedicated to the decency of most American soldiers. It was pretty ambivalent about the mission he was sent to do, though.

  22. Granted, it’s a TV series and not a movie, but FX’s Over There was a show pretty much dedicated to the decency of most American soldiers. It was pretty ambivalent about the mission he was sent to do, though.

    Fixed font problem

  23. “Since the ’60s, we have had, it seems, an endless string of war movies, from “Dr. Strangelove” to “Syriana,” in which the United States is depicted as wildly aggressive and endlessly corrupt – which, in fact, it’s not; which, in fact, it never has been.”

    *****
    “I’ve been to one World’s Fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of headphones.”

  24. I’m still offended that they made the “bad guys” in Flight 93 to be Arab-Americans. Isn’t that just pushing it over the top, guys? The last thing this country needs right now is your anti-Semitic (yes, Arabs are Semites) drivel in the name of “historical accuracy”.

    The least you could have done is made the hijackers into Reagan-era Military men who are upset that Communism fell and are trying to bring back the glory days of the US having one huge enemy.

    If that’s too controversial, you can have the pilots explicitly state that Bush doesn’t know about this. That should placate the nay-sayers.

  25. What would be the harm of trying something different?

    Making less money, presumably.

    Now, we all have the right to criticize others for maximizing profit over supposedly more noble values, but unless the criticizer shows a willingness to DO himself what he’s telling others they should do, it’s all just so much hot air, ain’t it?

  26. “Yeah Joe, I mean, I always hear conservatives asking for more WTC body footage, but never do I hear antiwar liberals beckoning for more Iraq/Afghanistan gore on TV.”

    Actually, Jared, I don’t. The closest thing I can come up with is the debate over showing the returning caskets, which lasted about a month. Meantime, we still hear the 101st Fighting Keyboarders demanding to see the 9/11 dead on tv, five and a half years later.

  27. Making less money, presumably.

    Perhaps, but given the personal politics of the majority of actor, directors and writers, I am not so sure this is a given. At least if I thought the mvoies being made where being driven purely by the profit motive I’d very little to whine about as you say.

  28. So what are you saying, that if people arent convinced that the war is worth fighting with the various argument pro and against right now that it would somehow be wrong to hope that the entertainment industry might step up to try and sway the arguement towards the pro side?

    Wrong to hope? No, but it might be unrealistic to hope that people who are anti-war will start churning out pro-war propaganda in order to mobilize the masses into having an opinion that the disagree with. That said, I think that the effect of anti-war movies on national motivation is overstated.

    My foolish hope is that people will actually base their opinions on facts instead of movies.

    As of right now people havn’t been asked to sacrifice a thing, but perhaps in the near future we may need to be more fiscally responsible and decide between a strong sustained war effort or larger spending on social programs.

    I don’t think that either choice will be particular palatable for libertarians. Besides cutting things like social security & medicare to fund the war effort, what sacrifices do you have in mind? Tell me what you’d be willing to sacrifice to secure voting rights in the Middle East?

  29. joe,

    I think you’re using different standards for each side. Has there really been an outcry to show 9/11 carnage for the entirety of the past five and a half years? Seems to me I heard much more about the caskets than about showing WTC carnage, and it’s every bit the emotional image divorced from rational argument.

    That said, the casket issue revolved at least partly around government restriction of access, whereas the complaints about lack of carnage are purely aimed at other private citizens and businesses.

  30. “101st Fighting Keyboarders”

    LOL, that’s funny as hell. Starting to like you again joe.

    I can’t believe anyone is seriously advocating propaganda films on a libertarian blog. I think you guys are looking National Review or something.

    The reality is that this “war on terror” has gone so far afield it has nothing to do with 9/11 anymore. Showing those 9/11 images would only piss me off more as to how bad we have fucked up the aftermath and the response.

  31. I am not so sure this is a given.

    First, I was quoting John, who explicity said they were doing what they were doing to make lots of money.

    That said, you’re right: who knows what their motivation really is? I don’t claim to. But the larger point, as I’ve made several times now, is that unless Hollywood is benefiting from some sort of government protection, nothing’s stopping people who have different motives from getting into the movie business and doing something different. Okay, of course it’s not as easy as that for any one individual. But rumor has it there’s some conservatives in the country with money, and lots of small investments have been known to add up. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The will here seems focused on, yes, whining.

  32. another lurker,

    I can’t believe anyone is seriously advocating propaganda films on a libertarian blog. I think you guys are looking National Review or something.

    How do these folks make it through the libertarian purity test filter???? 🙂

    I’m kind of glad I exposed here to stupidities, I mean views, that I don’t ordinarily get exposed to.

  33. “I’m kind of glad I exposed here to stupidities, I mean views, that I don’t ordinarily get exposed to.”

    As am I, I mention it merely as a tool to shame them into a deep personal analysis. LOL

  34. That said, you’re right: who knows what their motivation really is? I don’t claim to. But the larger point, as I’ve made several times now, is that unless Hollywood is benefiting from some sort of government protection, nothing’s stopping people who have different motives from getting into the movie business and doing something different. Okay, of course it’s not as easy as that for any one individual. But rumor has it there’s some conservatives in the country with money, and lots of small investments have been known to add up. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The will here seems focused on, yes, whining.

    Oh I agree completely. I surely don’t want my arguement to be construed as one along the lines of “Something needs to be done about this”. But, let’s just say what you call whining I call the market clamoring for mmovies that perhaps don’t get made often enough.

  35. From Klavan’s website, Apr 27, 2006:
    The talented French fimmaker Eric Valette has signed on to direct “One Missed Call.” Andrew [Klavan] wrote the script for this remake of the 2003 Japanese horror film “Chakushin Ari.” The story deals with a series of cell phone calls that seem to predict the deaths of the people who receive them, etc.

    If this guy’s so gung-ho maybe he should quit adapting Asian shlock (a little to that party anyway, aren’t you, Andy?) and start churning out some crackerjack war movie scripts instead.

  36. Fyodor challenges me to make my own movies and all that money. He should learn that family friendly “G” rated movies earn far more than those movies he defends. The nature of the entertainment industry attracts people who oppose middle class values. Normal people do not frequently go into the narcissistic anti-establishment business. Read any gossip column, if you think my use of “Normal” is exagerated.I, for one, choose not to worry so much about money. I have my own priorities.
    Davmos

  37. Fyodor challenges me to make my own movies and all that money. He should learn that family friendly “G” rated movies earn far more than those movies he defends. The nature of the entertainment industry attracts people who oppose middle class values. Normal people do not frequently go into the narcissistic anti-establishment business. Read any gossip column, if you think my use of “Normal” is exagerated.I, for one, choose not to worry so much about money. I have my own priorities.
    Davmos

  38. I’ll note that, pace John above, the X-Men films have been quite good.

  39. The nature of the entertainment industry attracts people who oppose middle class values.

    What are the official “middle class values”?

  40. I have my own priorities.

    Yeah, telling other people what they should do with their investments. BTW, you don’t have to literally make your own movies and be involved in the industry directly, you could merely invest in movies more to your liking. Oh, but that would be too narcissistic for you, I suppose. Better to just make a lot of noise about how others should behave differently (although they are already behaving in a mutually cooperative manner).

    semm,

    All fine and good that you are not advocating legal recourse, but I think the criticism about Hollywood’s movies goes beyond merely trying to make the market work better. But at this point the debate threatens to enter the whirlpool of what is or is not “okay” in regards to exercising one’s rights to comment on others exercising theirs. I’ve said what I’ve had to say on the matter.

  41. The issue is not so much propaganda but radical Islam. Radical Islam is the issue and threat that the early of the 21st Century will be remembered. Where is Hollywood? Hollywood has yet to make a serious movie to look at the issues of Islam and the West. Instead we get jackasses congratulating themselves for having the courage to make movies about McCarthyism. A movie about Islam doesn’t have to be propaganda. What about a serious movie about Muslims living in the U.S. and the pull between assimilating and fundementalism? How about a movie about the plight of woman under Sharia law?

    Basically Hollywood doesn’t have the guts, ingenuity or integrity to make such a film. They are completely missing in one of the most important issues facing the world. Hollywood is completely irrelevent because for them the calender never changed from 1968.

  42. Don’t worry, John, I’m sure that Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer will come to your rescue with Bad Boys III: Killin’ Sand Niggas

    There’ll be pithy, swear-laden dialogue, cool gunfights, a soundtrack cranked up to 11, tits, and a scene where Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Nicolas Cage are all running in slow-motion while one of Saddam’s palaces is enveloped in a fiery explosive ball. Meanwhile, Stephen Tyler croons something about patriotism or sacrifice, or love or some other bullshit over the speakers.

    It will be glorious.

  43. “I, for one, choose not to worry so much about money. I have my own priorities.”

    Funny, but “psychic” Sylvia Brown said exactly the same thing about the JREF Million Dollar prize.

  44. John, you make a good point, but I think movies like you describe are being made, just not in Hollywood. There have been quite a few British movies about the experiences of Pakistani immigrants and the tension between the traditional and the modern, for example. There are probably more and better examples. But I think the gist is that Hollywood is more and more irrelevant, whatever side you come down on in this current debate.

  45. Hey, I know Arabs and/or Muslims in the Middle East aren’t too keen on dogs, seeing them as an unclean animal. But how are they on cats? Because I have never seen a picture of a modern Middle Easterner petting a cat.

    Which can be a dealbreaker for an anti-Islamo-fascist movie, because a good villain needs to be able to stroke a white Angora cat while lurking in his secret hideout in a volcano.

    Holy shit! I just figured out where Osama bin Laden is! The volcanoes! My god, did anyone think to check the volcanoes!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.