Critics have labeled the new movie “Rendition” a “political thriller.” Whether it thrills or not is subjective. But “political”? Absolutely. It’s merely the latest in an unbroken series of major films about the war on terror that range from those seeking to assure us that Islamist terrorism isn’t the threat we might think, to those depicting the terrorists as no worse than those who fight them – and by implication the American people as a whole.
Michael mentions The Sum of All Fears:
Consider, too, the odyssey of the conversion of Tom Clancy’s massive best-selling 1991 book, “The Sum of All Fears,” in which a nuclear bomb destroys an American city, into the 2002 film of the same name. In the book and the original script, the bad guys were Islamist terrorists. Little did Mr. Clancy know how realistic his choices of villains were: Federal court hearings in February 2001 revealed that as early as 1993, Osama bin Laden offered $1.5 million to buy uranium for a nuclear weapon.
But ultimately the Paramount movie depicted the bomber as yet another comic book character villain, an Austrian neo-Nazi. (Though at least he never says, “Vee haff vays uf making you talk!”)
Thank goodness for that. The villain was played by Alan Bates, my idol, fresh from his part on off-Broadway’s The Unexpected Man.
Mr. Clancy, who unfortunately had no control over the process, took a swipe at director Phil Alden Robinson on the special features section of the DVD. Mr. Robinson, for his part, made the incredible claim on the DVD extra that the change was in the name of realism.
In reality, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had lobbied to change the villains and won. “I hope you will be reassured that I have no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs,” Mr. Robinson wrote to them, “and I wish you the best in your continuing efforts to combat discrimination.” Paramount’s CEO at the time, Sherry Lansing, also suggested that she would steer clear of movies with Muslim villains.
I’m not sure when such a worldview developed; though James Piereson would argue this was the flashpoint. But in any case, the mindset that fuels Hollywood’s dangerously self-destructive cocktail of nihilism and a punitive blind spot regarding America and its role in the world is surprisingly similiar to the elite news media’s long-running sense of aloofness and cosmopolitanism.
As Glenn Reynolds points out,
“THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE PEOPLE THAT STARTED THIS. THE PROBLEM’S WITH US.” That’s a Robert Redford breakout line from the trailer to his new war-on-terror movie that just appeared on my TV. It certainly sums up a certain worldview.
Michael Fumento was my podcast guest last March, when we talked about his work as an embed in Iraq. You can listen to the podcast here.