Okay, I admit it: It looks like the Surge is going to fail.
No, not that surge. You know, the one that raised troop levels in Iraq just enough so that when we declare “victory” and start to pull out, we’ll be back to square one. We, and our new alien overlords at MoveOn.org had that scam’s number all along.
Then along came the little Dutchman from Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y., with the fruit salad on his chest, and four stars on each shoulder. Bush’s parrot didn’t drool, he didn’t pack any visible heat, and he didn’t come out of his chair and go for Tom Lantos’s throat, thus defeating everyone’s expectation about how a military officer looks and behaves.
And to think, just a few short weeks ago, we were all so jazzed. Rummy was gone, Jose Jimenez was on the run, the chief justice had keeled over, and the smell of Chimpeachment was in the air from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Pacific Palisades. Even TimeSelect got liberated, freeing MoDo to repeat herself in public and Frank Rich to redeploy all the awful things he’s always wanted to say about Andrew Lloyd Webber against this “president.” For one brief shining moment, it finally looked like we had the Smirking Frat Boy and Darth Vader on the run.
True, the Pelosi Democrats weren’t making much progress toward unilaterally declaring defeat and getting the troops out of harm’s way — which is what we all know they really want — and Bushitler’s desire to eavesdrop on my mother’s ma jong games in Teaneck actually got temporarily approved by the House and Senate.
Still, we here in Hollywood had our secret weapon: movies, lots of ‘em, each with a stronger antigun, antiwar, anti-Rethuglican message than the next. Movies just guaranteed to put fannies in seats:
Shoot ‘Em Up — a passionate plea for gun control, featuring a super-cool Clive Owen as the baaadest-assed gunman alive, who personally kills a hundred or so black-clad villains with every imaginable kind of handgun, plus a carrot stick or two, all the while blaming the mayhem on the Second Amendment.
In the Valley of Elah — a passionate indictment of the dehumanizing effects of war, written and directed by Hollywood’s current flavor-of-the-month, Paul “Crash” Haggis, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, so memorable in that passionate antiwar movie by Oliver Stone that nobody saw, Heaven and Earth.
Redacted — Brian de Palma’s passionate indictment of the innate murderous brutality that lurks in the heart of every American troglodyte, er, soldier. The hit of the recent Venice Film Festival, Redacted echoes de Palma’s earlier unsung 1989 masterpiece, Casualties of War; criminally, nobody saw that movie, which starred Sean Penn — which is precisely why it just had to be remade.
Grace Is Gone — a passionate plea to recognize the dangers inherent in sending people of all genders into a combat zone, in which John Cusack has to explain to his children that their mommy has been killed in Iraq. An indie hit at Sundance — how about that!!
And this doesn’t even count the upcoming The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition, nor does it include such recent films as George Clooney’s Syriana, Marky Mark’s Shooter, what’s his-name’s Jarhead, and Angelina Jolie’s A Mighty Heart — all passionate indictments of one thing or another vaguely connected to the military-industrial complex and the so-called “War on Terror.”
Now, what do all these films have in common — besides being passionate indictments?
They all flopped. Or will, soon enough. (Except for, maybe, The Kingdom, which apparently has an appalling whiff of vigilantism.) And this is something we out here in Hollywood just cannot wrap our minds around.
What the hell is wrong with this country? We support the troops, showing them as the dysfunctional, murdering, drug-addicted, red-state crypto-rapists in need of psychoanalysis we all know they really are. Hey — even the Marine officer in Alan Ball’s award-winning American Beauty a few years back was humanized by making him a sadist and a closet queen. And this is the thanks we get?
These days, when you go in to pitch a new war movie, the first thing the studio exec does after offering you some bottled water and asking you whether you’ve yet given to Al Franken’s senatorial campaign, is warn you that “we’re trying to avoid jingoism here.” In the old days, we made a million Bataan movies but only one The Best Years of Our Lives. It the interest of fairness, it’s time to change that. As some snarky punk — I think it was Robert Frost — said, “a liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in argument.” That’s us, baby — in spades!
So who cares if the American public is so benighted that it won’t go to see our antiwar films this season? Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do and a gay/lesbian/transgendered/bi-curious carbon-based life form’s gotta do what a gay/lesbian/transgendered/bi-curious carbon-based life form’s gotta do. Thank the top dog of your own personal belief system — or Nobody at all! — that we had a record summer this year, the Summer of the Threequel, to finance our consciences!
Still, there’s something nagging at me. A bunch of things, actually: The Bourne Ultimatum, $217 million and counting. 3:10 to Yuma, nearly $30 million after two weeks in release. And, worst of all, the No. 1 movie last week before the Resident Evil threequel knocked it off its perch — The Brave One, with “thank-you-for-respecting-my-choices” Jodie Foster as the vengeful love child of the Central Park Jogger and Bernhard Goetz, miraculously transported back to the Abe Beame/David Dinkins-era New York of 2,500 murders a year, and packing some serious heat as she rids the city of scum-sucking, bottom-feeding dirtbags, several of whom, shockingly, happen to be people of color.
Of course, it’s nothing by a callous rip-off of the odious, hateful, hurtful, bile-spewing Death Wish, pandering to the yahoo audience’s worst instincts for justice, er… revenge.
Come to think of it, that movie was a big hit. Better call my agent before some other writer figures this out, by jingo…
— David Kahane is a nom de cyber for a writer in Hollywood. “David Kahane” is borrowed from a screenwriter character in The Player.