It’s amazing: The 9/11 hearings have turned into a sweeping partisan indictment, not of the Wahabhi terrorists who wantonly murdered more than 3,000 innocent citizens in the name of anti-American fanaticism, but of (as usual) the Bush administration. We’re practically at the point of charging G.W. with knowing full well that the massacre was coming–but choosing to play golf in Crawford instead of worrying. As The Other Charlotte pointed out yesterday in a wonderful post linking to Dorothy Rabinowitz’s searing piece the Wall Street Journal, the “Jersey Girls,” the four hysterical Bush-blaming 9/11 widows, have become Big Media’s anointed (and only) spokesman for the the other thousands of bereaved Twin Towers family members who clearly have saner heads. (See Dorothy Rabinowitz on Jersey Girls Fatigue, April 14–and read Dorothy’s piece!) As TOC says, this is like blaming Winston Churchill for the London blitz.
And my favorite fellow blogger James Lileks points out today, we won’t even be allowed by the liberal powers that be to make a decent movie out of 9/11. As Lileks says, the horror, the heroism (of the hundreds of firefighters lost, among many others who distinguished themselves that day), the sadness, the sheer villainy of the terrorists who pulled it off, would be the stuff of a blockbuster. Likeks cites Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan as examples of fine and also immensely popular works of cinematic art that told positive stories of individual heroism during another time of bloody crisis and pervasive moral wickedness, World War II. (I would add We Were Soldiers, the best Vietnam movie and another stirring, beautifully told story of American bravery–in Southeast Asia and also on the home front.) Lileks also cites the astounding box-office success of The Passion of the Christ as a response to millions of U.S. Christians’ deep desire–so far rejected by mainstream Hollywood–to have their religious beliefs glowingly affirmed and finally taken seriously.
But no, we won’t have anything like that from Hollywood, Lileks warns. Instead, he predicts, we’ll get a cynical Oliver Stone-like massage of the events of 9/11 accompanied by the message that it’s All America’s Fault (oh, and Israel’s, too). Lileks writes:
“9/11 would make a hell of a movie.
“It’s the most dramatic day of modern times. The story lines are clear; it writes itself. You don’t have to make up heroic characters; every minute has a dozen. No Hollywood falsities need intrude ‘ no star-crossed lovers, no cheerful archetypes, no swelling music….Just tell the story as it happened that day, and people would cram the theaters by the millions. Just like they went to see ‘The Passion’ And with the same emotions, I’d bet: from the opening moments the audience would have the same sick clot in their stomachs, the same old throb of dread we all felt during ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ This wasn’t pleasant, but it was important to see it, and know.
“It doesn’t demean the day to make a movie of it, anymore than it would be an insult to write a novel about the events. Movies are how we tell stories; they’re the means by which the culture coalesces around certain ideas, or learns which ideas they should coalesce around.
“And that’s the problem. I wonder whether Hollywood execs shy from a 9/11 movie because they think it might send the wrong message.
“It would anger people anew, and we’re supposed to be past that. It would remind us what was done to us instead of rubbing out noses in what we do to others — I mean, unless you have a character in the second tower watching the plane approaching and saying ‘My God, this is payback for supporting Israel!’ it’s going to come across as simplistic nonsense that denies the reality in the West Bank, okay? It would have to tread lightly when it came to the President, because even though we all knew that he wet his pants and ran to hide, we’d have to pretend and do scenes in Air Force One where he’s taking charge instead of crying help mommy to Dick Cheney, right? I mean the idiots in flyover people believe that stuff, and you’d have to give it to them or they write letters with envelopes that have these little pre-printed return address stickers with flags up in the corner. Seriously. Little flag stickers. Anyway, we would have to show Arab males as the bad guys, and that’s not worth the grief; you want to answer the phone when CAIR sees the dailies of the guys slitting the stewardess’ throats? And here’s the big one: if we make a patriotic movie during Bush’s term, well, it doesn’t help the cause, you know. People liked Bush after 9/11. Why remind them of that? Plus, you can just kiss off the European markets, period….
“It’s like it’s 1943, and Hollywood turns down a Pearl Harbor movie in favor of the gripping account of a Washington bureaucrat who warned FDR that the oil embargo would needlessly anger Japan. The attack on Hawaii would take up five minutes ‘ and even then it would be a shot of the hero listening to the radio with an expression of stoic anguish. If only they’d listened.”
Right on. So–let’s hope for a 9/11 Mel Gibson with the guts, genius, and bankroll to make for our starved culture the blockbuster about that dreadful day that we deserve.