Thursday, February 02, 2006

Do Political Movies Make An Impact? (UPDATED)

I'd have to say they do, which is why the older and more political I get the less patience I have for Hollywood's frankly dangerous POV.

I hate to admit this, but as I didn't become remotely politically-minded until I hit middle age, my political views , where I had them (which was almost never) were almost completely in lock-step with the political movies I watched in their TV runs in the 70s and early 80s. Not knowing any better - and this because my conversations with Dad centered exclusively on me whining about not wanting to mow the lawn - I just assumed that Hollywood movies, just like TV documentaries (sigh . . .), basically presented factual stories. Surely, they told it How It Was, I naively thought.

It took a long time for that kind of innocent political ignorance to slough off; it was mostly gone before 9/11, thank God, so it took me only, oh, roughly a split second after I turned on the TV on the morning of 9/11 to decide where I stood on many, many things.

And I even forget sometimes that I was a much more politically liberal person, and that I owed it all to swallowing without question Hollywood's politics.

I forget about the power a movie has to inform a person's woldview. It came back to me today, however, as I read Mark Steyn's review of Spielberg's latest mangling of history, Munich. This piercing critique by Steyn should tell you all need to know:

‘Humanising’ the Arabs is fine, but the film works hard at dehumanising the Jews, not just because of the thin characterisations but also through the demands of the narrative arc: the Israelis are cold loners living in the shadows coolly observing Arabs taking their little girls to music lessons in Paris or chatting affably to the local storekeeper in Rome; then the Jews move in and clinically blow them to pieces. The Arabs have fully formed lives, the Israelis don’t.

It seems a heavy accusation to make. After all, Spielberg is a Jew and did a lot for educating people about the Holocaust, didn't he? Well, sure - but Schindler's Jews were simply "Jews" and Israel didn't exist yet; Spielberg is still enough of a Hollywood twit to think that one can despise "Israel" without also despising "Jews."

But I didn't actually need Steyn to point out the film's intent, and Steyn eventually argues that the movie is not as anti-Jew as other critics say it is. But a recent experience obliges me to question Steyn's generosity: One of my barely-out-of-his-teens co-workers actually shocked me - I mean, it literally took me a few seconds to believe that I had really heard what I just heard - in the Barnes & Noble breakroom when, the day after he saw Munich, he casually said, in much the same way one would point out the color of the sky this afternoon: "Man. Those Israelis. That's just the way they are; they'll kill a hundred innocent guys just to get near one guilty guy and not even think twice about it."

Who needs Goebbels anymore when we've got Hollywood?

Anyway, read Steyn's excellent shredding of Munich. It even has the phrase "ludicrous boomer narcissism," so you get some fine dessert with your excellent meal.

UPDATE: Think I'm being a little harsh on the idiocy of Hollywood's denizens? I don't.

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