A slew of anti-American, anti-military, anti-Iraq mission films will be coming out and one in particular, the Brian De Palma directed Redacted shocked the Venice film festival attendees. The story portrays the rape and murder of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and then murder of her family at the hands of U.S. soldiers. This is a true story. It is a horrible story. It is a shameful story.
And it is one story.
Iraq overflows with stories. So much so that I remember Michael Yon writing about being overwhelmed with the information he has to process every day while embedded with various groups of soldiers. So a writer must choose his stories. The stories chosen reveal as much about the journalist, writer or director as they reveal about the subject.
In the sea of Iraq war stories, Brian De Palma swims into a particularly diseased water. He could swim all year. He chooses to swim during the red tide.
De Palma's choice, really all of Hollywood's choice, is to judge the military, judge the Iraq mission and judge America with a "realistic" eye. This is an interesting perspective. Other "realities" include soldiers who sacrifice themselves, soldiers who save babies, soldiers who save dogs, soldiers who befriend former enemies. The war is a complex tapestry, all of it real, some ugly and some beautiful. The Left sees the ugly and believes they see the truth. But while it may be real, it can't be said that it's true, because truth is a whole picture--the good and the evil.
It is especially easy to see the evil. It takes no special gift to portray the wretched and shocking and call it art. The Anchoress says:
Mostly this “offensive” art seems juvenile to me - it feels like the sort of stuff you come up with when you’re 14, or at least the stuff I would have come up with when I was 14. Daring? No. It’s actually as safe as denouncing Bush, because Christians do not riot or separate heads from bodies simply because someone drew a picture. This stuff is not edgy, just rather pedestrian.It's safe depicting those who protect you because you feel safe in the comforting arms of democracy and artistic freedom. No government agent will take your art and destroy it. No jack boot will be at your back.
Along these lines, I was reading G. K. Chesterton today. This time Heretics. Again, I'm delighting in his humorous skewering of modern thought. The progressives are nothing if not predictable. Chesterton wrote Heretics in 1905 and his arguments are as fresh during this murky post-modern mushy headedness today as they were then. Chapter two is titled The Negative Spirit. Does anything so describe Western Leftists as a "negative spirit"? No. Chesterton says this:
The tradition of calling a spade a spade starts very early in our literature and comes down very late. But the truth is that the ordinary honest man, whatever vague account he may have given of his feelings, was not either disgusted or een annoyed at the candour of the moderns. What disgusted him, and very justly, was not the presence of a clear realism, but the absence of a clear idealism.It's not the realism of De Palma's film that will be objectionable, for the facts he presents may well be the real ones (that remains to be demonstrated, however; Hollywood and the media in general excels at sins of omission). What I already object to, without having seen the film, is that in the totality of truth portraying only one factual story becomes, in essence, a lie.
Hollywood and a huge segment of the media seem determined not to see the truth but to see one reality. It is a narrative and parts of it are real, but it's not the truth. The truth is revealed by seeing the whole not just one small part.
If Hollywood and the media want to be viewed with respect again, perhaps they would consider telling the whole truth.
UPDATE: Roger Simon weighs in:
So why would DePalma choose to tell this story now?There are many films, real and truthful, that haven't been made.
Propaganda, of course. But there's a bit more. We are all creatures of our times and of our great successes. This is perfectly human. DePalma, quintessentially a man of my generation, equates Iraq with Vietnam not just because he may think they are the same (ridiculous as that is) but because Vietnam made him the man he is today. In other words, he was able to live a fantastic Hollywood life (even with the normal vicissitudes),including the fancy houses, cars, women, etc., by being a "groovy" man of his generation - militantly opposed to Vietnam War and for all traditional PC things. Why change? Indeed, why not drill down further into the old well when things aren't as they once were. Why think about the specifics of the current situation or about history? They would only disrupt personal progress.
Glenn Reynolds comments:
HOW ABOUT A MOVIE WHERE HOLLYWOOD FILMMAKERS TAKE MONEY FROM AMERICA'S ENEMIES TO UNDERMINE MORALE? It wouldn't be any more dishonest than Brian de Palma's latest.The truth? Hollywood can't handle the truth! How ironic that Jack Nicholson's A Few Good Men character displayed the sneering contempt of a corrupt military commander when the character more rightly embodies Hollywood's contempt for all things moral and military.