Saturday, November 24, 2007

Iraq War is Hell on Box Office

So says Joe Garafoli in his San Francisco Chronicle column Friday.

Despite A-list casts - including Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones - and generally good reviews, war-related dramas tanked this fall at the box office, failing to attract a substantial audience during Hollywood's serious film season. And now, with the lighter holiday movie fare blanketing screens beginning this weekend, the cultural window to bring narratives about the war to multiplex patrons is closing.

But to some Iraq veterans, like [Army National Guard sergeant Jabbar] Magruder, who have tried to raise awareness about the war's perils, the apathy represents a larger disconnect many Americans feel toward the war. Implicit in the Redford, Streep and Tom Cruise film "Lions for Lambs" is a challenge to filmgoers to become impassioned about the war.

"I thought that with the casts (of these films), at least a portion of America would go to see them," said Magruder, a 24-year-old who is taking premed classes at California State University Northridge and is the Los Angeles chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Like many soldiers, he joined the service out of a sense of duty and, because his family had limited financial means, to pay for college.

"America doesn't want to deal with Iraq, period," Magruder said. "There's just apathy. And that's what a lot of veterans, no matter what their position on the war, are finding when they come back home."

It's typical that this story is coming out the the San Francisco area, where people "don't want to deal with Iraq" or the military. What Magruder wants from America is for them to oppose the war the way he does, the way Hollywood does.

Hollywood these days loves to make movies that show America and Americans as the bad guys. In their eyes, the military is nothing but a bunch of hormone-raged killers and rapists, and their movies reflect that view. The problem for Hollywood, though, is that most of America doesn't share their jaded hearts.

I love going to movies, but I try not to go until I know it's safe. If there's a question about the viewpoint of a film, or about how heavy-handed it is, I'll wait until I hear from someone who has seen it before I decide whether to go.

Wednesday, I caught the last hour of Michael Medved's radio show, and he talked about the movies that were opening this weekend, two of which are about the war in Iraq. He said In the Valley of Elah is a "hateful film." And Redacted is almost as bad. Lions for Lambs (already out) is another film that blames America first, which seems to be why columnist Garafoli and the anti-Iraq-War Magruder like it so well.

The Iraq War movie I want to see is the movie Hollywood doesn't want to make. I want to see the We Were Soldiers of the Iraq War, a movie that tells of the bravery of our soldiers and the difference they made over there. I want to see a movie about the best of who America is, but Hollywood only wants to tell us about the worst of who we are.

It's not that the Iraq War itself is hell on the bottom line for the box office. It's that Hollywood's version of the Iraq War is. But Hollywood and the anti-military crowd just can't figure that out.

Other movie notes:

Some of the other movies Michael Medved mentioned were:

The Mist: "A dog." It's a Stephen King story, but the (liberal) reviewers have said the Christian character is scarier than the monsters out there in the mist. Another anti-Christian movie portraying Christians as one-dimensional rabid zeaolts. I won't be seeing it.

Enchanted: "Delightful." A fairy tale princess and her prince get zapped into modern New York City. I'm planning to see it with friends after church tomorrow.

The Golden Compass (coming soon): Michael Medved didn't talk about it, but the publicity surrounding it says it's an anti-God, atheism-promoting film. They won't get a penny from me for this movie.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is scheduled for May 16, 2008. Such a long wait...


Charlie said...

Apathy isn't the reason why movie-goers aren't rewarding Hollywood for criticizing the war. It's that we go to the movies to be entertained, not lectured or made to feel like we're stupid. Film-makers want to use their art to "speak truth to power." But the people who pay 10 bucks for a ticket just want a couple of hours of escape from reality.

SkyePuppy said...

Good point, Charlie. Let's see... I have 10 bucks. Do I want to pay to get browbeaten, or do I want to pay to see something fun? Hmmm... Tough choice. NOT!

janice said...

I just finished reading "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell. I wrote the reveiw on my blog. Great story that needed to be told.

That's a movie Americans will flock to the theater to see!

SkyePuppy said...


Of course, Hollywood won't make the movie, because it doesn't fit their preconceived notions about America. Unless maybe Randall Wallace (Braveheart, We Were Soldiers) decides to make it...

Malott said...

An elder at my sister's church announced on Sunday that the Golden Compass was meant to be Hollywoods answer to C.S. Lewis.

He urged us not to go.