Thursday, April 03, 2014
EDWARD CLINE April 3, 2014
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.
Hollywood has rarely produced a trustworthy depiction of historical events. My own philosophy of historical fiction is that historic events should serve as background to the conflicts, aspirations, ambitions, betrayals and destiny of the principal characters in the story. Further, the plot in which these characters move – or, even better, when these characters move the plot itself – should not conflict with the historic events, but be in sync with those events. The principal conflicts should be between the characters, not between the story and history. I obeyed this rule while writing the Sparrowhawk series, and also my period detective novels.
Hollywood does not adhere to such rules. I don’t think it has even formulated them.
Thus we have such examples as the 1936 Charge of the Light Brigade, in which the sequence of events of the Indian Mutiny and the Crimean War was reversed (the war, 1853-1856; the mutiny, 1857). Otherwise it would have required Errol Flynn to survive the Charge and travel to India to rescue Olivia de Havilland from Surat Khan's filthy clutches. History was tweaked, but not by much, to accommodate the plot. The lavish 1968 Tony Richardson version, however, was a plotless anti-war statement, complete with animated period political cartoons and caricatured Victorian figures. And, because it was an anti-war statement, it was gorier than its predecessor.
There are innumerable films and TV series grounded in history. I could write a book about the subject. I might do that, some day. What looms largest in my mind, however, and at the moment, is David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962). At the age of 17, when I first saw it shortly after its release, I was literally smitten by it. It got me to read up on World War One. Although I entertained doubts about its accuracy, it was a grand scale film, one of the last. My positive appraisal of it gradually diminished over the years, the more I learned about how and why the Allied campaign in the Middle East was conducted.
Clinching my final negative appraisal was Efraim Karsh's August 9th, 2013 article, "Seven Pillars of Fiction," originally published in the Wall Street Journal and reprinted by the Middle East Forum. It concluded that Lawrence was indeed a consummate charlatan, and that the "Arab Revolt" was a fiction invented by one ambitious Arab potentate and cashed in on by another, the Saudi "king," Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. Saud sat out the war and did not participate in any of the warfare conducted against the Turks by Lawrence under the aegis of Hussein ibn Ali, the putative "Sharif of Mecca," and Prince Faisal, one of his sons. Hussein also sought the title, "King of the Arabs." I provide many more details of this pragmatic episode of "nation building" in my detective novel, The Black Stone.
It also led me to the conclusion that David Lean, one of the finest film directors to ever peer through a camera lens, was just another ingenuous dupe of the legend of Lawrence of Arabia. At the time, questioning the stature of T.E. Lawrence would have been treated as slanderous heresy. His film, which I still maintain is a magnificent example of what films could be, was inspired by and produced as a result of the success of Terence Rattigan's 1960 play, Ross, which was closer to the truth in its depiction of Lawrence than was Lawrence of Arabia.
I've often written about Hollywood's Leftist, anti-American crusade, and its penchant for obliging the sensibilities of offended Muslims in the past, for example, here, here, here, here, and most recently, here, about the Disney/ABC Family Group's capitulation to the demands of the Hamas-connected Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that it cancel a TV program, "Alice in Arabia." Nick Provenzo wrote about the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2006, why Hollywood had little or nothing to say about it, and why Hollywood changed the villains from Muslims to "neo-fascists" in the production of Tom Clancy's novel, The Sum of All Fears. Wikepedia has the "low-down" on why the villains' identities were changed. The screenwriter, Dan Pyne, protesteth too much.
The Disney/ABC decision garnered little or no mention in the mainstream media, nor did the announcement that Disney/ABC would work with Muslim screenwriters to produce future programs that would not offend Muslim feelings or invite chares of blasphemy or "slandering" the good name of Islam. The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a Muslim Brotherhood front group, announced also that it would provide Disney/ABC with this "talent."
That boils down to: MPAC wonks voluntarily installed by Disney/ABC as paid censors of its output. It means: Disney/ABC is willing to submit to Islamic Sharia law, and avoid any criticism of Islam, and the Muslim wonks will be there to ensure that Disney/ABC complies.
(I have sent this column to the executives of Disney/ABC Family Group. It would be interesting to know that they have read the MPAC links provided in the foregoing paragraphs – that is, if they wish to bother to learn with whom they are partnering. As for the history of CAIR, that's pretty much public knowledge, and I'm sure those executives know the history, too.)
Have Hollywood studios no shame? Apparently not, if shame is regret for betraying one's freedom for some tenuous notion of "security." Hollywood has been submitting to all kinds of pressure for decades: to federal pressure, Communist pressure, union pressure, feminist pressure, "gay rights" pressure – and Islamic pressure. This is aside from the Hays Office of censors, which exercised its own moral arm-twisting on Hollywood back in the 1930's.
Islamic dhimmitude is just the latest chapter in Hollywood's submission to threats, regulations, and "social pressure" to produce what is acceptable film fare at the moment. While the Hays Office expired in the 1950's, and beginning in the 1960's the Production Code succumbed to the Left's film philosophy that anything goes and the only stricture is something called "parental guidance," Hollywood remains in thrall to whomever fills the vacuum of "moral uplift" and shakes a vigorous fist at Tinsel Town.
It's generally thought that it doesn't matter if Hollywood succumbs to self-censorship, to government regulation and censorship, or even to Islamic censorship because, as one reader of a Breitbart article on the tapping of Kevin Spacey to play Winston Churchill in a future production, remarked, "Rational people have the ability to realize it's just a fictional show and don't change their opinions on whom to vote for because of a TV show." (This was in reference to Spacey's hit TV series, "House of Cards.")
Here I expand on my reply to the reader's comments:
Rational people don't denigrate, debunk, or satirize their political affiliations or their political principles. Nor do they wish to see them denigrated, debunked, or mocked – not unless they think it doesn't matter, that they'll come out on top, and people don’t take ideas seriously anyway, they're just a bunch of goofballs.
Kevin Spacey is basically a nihilist. He can dramatize the truth about how Washington works, and believes telling the truth won’t matter. He thinks his Democratic Party will still triumph and continue to put the screws to the American people. He counts on people thinking: Well, it's only TV, it's only actors, and sets, and scripts, no one will take it seriously. It's just "entertainment."
However, fiction and film have a more powerful effect on people's minds and the course of politics than you might realize, especially if they're well done, as "House of Cards" was. If they didn't, no one would bother writing political fiction or making political films. Why did Oliver Stone make JFK or any of his other political films? To influence viewers. Why do leftists and conservatives blow a gasket when any of Ayn Rand's novels are mentioned? It's because they're afraid her novels will influence readers by showing the evil of statism and the consequences of selflessness. Why did Khomenei issue a death fatwa on Salman Rushdie and call for the banning of The Satanic Verses? Because he and his mullahs believed his book would damage Islam, so they called it "blasphemous." People do respond to political films, novels, and satire whether or not they realize they're just fiction, and their producers and directors know this.
This is why the executives behind Disney/ABC's cancellation of "Alice in Arabia" at the behest of terrorist front group, CAIR, don't think it matters. It's just a TV show, people won’t take it seriously, and won’t miss it if they never see it. And, besides, we really don’t want to get the Saudis mad at us. Why, they could buy a controlling interest in Disney/ABC. That would be too much. We're willing to cooperate. And our female executives might not want to wear head scarves or Hefty trash bags. We don’t want people thinking ill of the Saudis, or of Islam.
Not allowing TV audiences to see it, however, misses the point. It was a conscious decision to cancel the show. It's as significant an action – moral cowardice – as if a "Gang Busters" radio drama from the 1930's was cancelled on the complaint of Al Capone or Frank Nitti some other gangster, because the show allegedly "stereotyped" gangsters or gave people the "wrong idea" about the character of gangsters. But the truth about Islam is that it is brutal, primitive, and totalitarian in nature. Saudi Arabia is a theocratic monarchy determined to perpetuate itself and corrupt the West, in particular, America. King Abdullah is a grosser caricature, physically and metaphorically, of a gangster than was Al Capone. Forget Batman's nemeses, the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. King Abdullah can't be exaggerated.
What happened to the initial motive to produce a show that depicts the efforts of an American girl kidnapped by Saudis to escape her captors? It was regretted, suppressed, and discarded. Disney/ABC waved the white flag. Please don’t accuse us of "Islamophobia"!
To date, Hollywood has not produced a single film or TV series in which the villains are Muslims or Muslim terrorists, not even 24. It's usually "Serbian" nationalists, or South Africa-based neo-Nazis, or some other concocted terrorist group with designs on the U.S. But never Muslims. If Muslims appear on 24 or in some film, they're usually portrayed as blameless "innocents." Daniel Greenfield, in his January 24th column, "Hollywood's Muslim Lies," noted about The Sum of All Fears":
Its writer Dan Pyne dismissed Islamic terrorism as a “cliché”; even though a plot can’t be a cliché when it never appears in movies, only in real life. Pyne however found a more realistic villain. “I think, there was some neo-nationalist activity in Holland, and there was stuff going on in Spain and in Italy. So it seemed like a logical and lasting idea that would be universal.”
Later, about cliché-burdened Pyne, Greenfield wrote;
Instead Dan Pyne went on to write a remake of The Manchurian Candidate in which Communist China was replaced by the “Manchurian Corporation”. He’s currently working on a movie featuring a Syrian rescue worker who gets mistaken for a terrorist while trying to save lives during Hurricane Katrina. It’s a cliché, but it’s the kind of cliché that Hollywood likes.
If a movie is made about September 11 a decade from now, the villains will probably be Serbian nationalists. It would be a cliché to have 19 Muslim hijackers murder 3,000 people. And then the camera will linger meaningfully on a Muslim rescuer wrongly taken into custody by a bigoted NYPD cop who is overlooking the real Serbian/Dutch neo-nationalist corporate villains.
The original 1962 Manchurian Candidate is a taut, suspenseful, knuckle-chewing, unabashedly political film starring Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey. Its IMDB synopsis reads: "A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin." The 2004 "remake" stars Denzel Washington (an otherwise fine actor, but who possesses poor judgment about what kinds of films he appears in) in the Frank Sinatra role and is a convoluted, unabashedly politically correct, anti-business mess that blames, not a Communist plot to seize the White House, but a high-tech arms dealer, the "Manchurian Corporation." The purposeful butchery of the original story was called a "reimagining."
"Reimagine" the American Revolution as a French plot to install George Washington as "George the First" of America, or the Civil War as a British plot to dissolve the United States to perpetuate slavery. Or, "reimagine" American history as told by Howard Zinn and "Common Core." And how many times can anyone retell Custer's Last Stand, or "reimagine" The Front Page, The Big Clock, and The Four Feathers to fit the politically correct sensibility of the moment? I guess until there's as little connection between an original film and its latest "remake" as between a trumpet swan and a tomtit.
Finally, there's that old reliable government-business partnership to fall back on when looking for extra revenue and capitalization, otherwise known as fascism. Dreamworks went to China. The Los Angeles Times reported in February 2012:
The creator of the "Shrek" movies said it was forming Oriental DreamWorks, a joint venture with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group in concert with Shanghai Alliance Investment – an investment arm of the Shanghai municipal government – to establish a family entertainment company in China.
With an initial investment of $330 million, the Shanghai studio would develop original Chinese animated and live-action movies, TV shows and other entertainment catering to the China market. The deal was among several business ventures announced in downtown Los Angeles during an economic forum attended by visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to be the country's next leader….
The new studio, which has been recruiting some staff in Hollywood, plans to begin operations later this year and could eventually surpass the size of DreamWorks' headquarters, which employs more than 2,000 people, Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said in an interview.
You can bet that Dreamworks China will not be producing animated films about the freedom of speech, the right of political protest, free enterprise, and individual rights. No, it will be producing more "Kung Fu Panda" films, and maybe a "reimagined" "Shrek" as Chairman Mao.
It had to be the natural course of moral collapse that Hollywood, dominated by the anti-American, anti-business, anti-esthetics, post-deconstructionist Left, would ally itself with anti-freedom, totalitarian Islam. It comports with the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda of sabotaging the West from within. The Brotherhood's May 22nd, 1991 memorandum details how especially America can be conquered and made Sharia complaint. The Investigative Project reported:
Written sometime in 1987 but not formally published until May 22, 1991, Akram's 18-page document listed the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded "organizations of our friends" that shared the common goal of dismantling American institutions and turning the U.S. into a Muslim nation. These "friends" were identified by Akram and the Brotherhood as groups that could help convince Muslims "that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
Thus the “grand jihad” [….] envisioned was not a violent one involving bombings and shootings, but rather a stealth (or “soft”) jihad aiming to impose Islamic law (Sharia) over every region of the earth by incremental, non-confrontational means, such as working to “expand the observant Muslim base”; to “unif[y] and direc[t] Muslims' efforts”; and to “present Islam as a civilization alternative.” At its heart, Akram's document details a plan to conquer and Islamize the United States – not as an ultimate objective, but merely as a stepping stone toward the larger goal of one day creating “the global Islamic state.”
Hollywood is but one miserable wing of the "house" the Brotherhood and its Islamic terrorist allies wish to bring down and convert to their own brand of totalitarianism. Just as the Soviets infiltrated our government and our culture in the 1930's, including Hollywood, just as Hollywood obeyed Washington and refrained from producing movies during World War II critical of our totalitarian ally, Josef Stalin's Soviet Russia, Islam has made a key beachhead in Hollywood, to guide its Leftist denizens in the Sharia way.
Ultimately, it will not be the Brotherhood's hands that will help to destroy America, but the pragmatic, amoral, manicured hands of Hollywood, busy "reimagining" it.