It’s no breaking news that Hollywood has been largely a liberal enterprise, with occasional exceptions like The Passion of the Christ. But it’s also largely been too darn predictable. Hollywood needs to shake things up a bit, get some new storylines. Surprise people.
Admittedly, I have a little bit of an agenda to hoist upon Hollywood — or, at least, a slant in another direction, a new way to look at the world. If I were issuing Think-Outside-of-the-Conventional-Box grants to filmmakers for Hollywood blockbusters, I’d have two main project themes I’d be looking to fund: First and foremost, we’re at war and we could really use inspiring war stories. We’ve had some tributes and fiction attempts I applaud, but we need more. We’re at war and the culture should reflect that. Secondly, the “Feminism Does Not Speak for Me” project, because it doesn’t and I’m not the only American woman who can say that.
I have no money to offer anyone, but here are a few sample proposals. If you’re reading this from a major motion-picture studio, go in peace – I won’t ask for royalties.
Infidel. In November 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh (great-grand nephew of painter Vincent) was found shot on an Amsterdam street. A note was left on his body for a Somali-born woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali, then a member of the Dutch parliament, had worked with van Gogh on a documentary (Submission) criticizing the treatment of women in Islamic societies. The note threatened that Ali, a former Muslim, would be next. The life story of Ali, who ultimately fled the Netherlands (after fleeing forced marriage in Kenya) to the United States highlights the clash of civilizations at the root of the war on terror. Halle Berry should be cast as Ali.
Soldiers’ Angel. With an enlisted Marine son and a daughter who’s helped the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, D.C. mom and veteran politico Barbara Ledeen spends her off hours talking to and advocating for young men, some of whom lost limbs to enemy IEDs. In a culture where sacrifice is slim and protest often casual (including the antiwar protests she encounters outside medical centers where our wounded are being cared for), Ledeen’s encounters are heartbreaking, startling, and inspiring.
Power to the People! I’ve stolen the title from radio-talk show host Laura Ingraham’s upcoming book, so she might want royalties. A group of media conservatives helps kill a bad bill against all odds. With the power of the White House pushing an amnesty-for-illegal-immigrants bill, a dramatic debate ensues, with name-calling, broken friendships and eventually some redemption. The White House loses big, but it’s a victory for law-abiding Americans who let themselves be heard via phone and e-mail, against the backdrop of heart-wrenching stories and the need for law and order.
Beauties and the Dishonorable Beast. A girl named Nazanin waits in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, sentenced to death in an Islamic court for the crime of self-defense. (She stabbed a man who was trying to rape her and her younger niece.) A Canadian model and aspiring pop singer, also named Nazanin, learns of the girl’s outrageous case and lobbies human-rights groups to insist that her life be spared. After a long, hard battle, the Nazanins win. It’s a wake-up call to Eastern and Western countries alike. Can these women prevail against centuries-old practices?
Blessed Are the Airwaves. The biggest feminist of them all turns out to be a Catholic nun. And, no, she’s not fighting the patriarchy to become a priest. Born Rita Rizzo, Mother Angelica is a modern media success story. The founder of the Eternal World Television Network , she’s a Poor Clare nun and media mogul (with worldwide TV, radio, and Internet outlets), who started her venture with nothing but a little money and a fervent prayer. Hers is a story of a tough girl from a broken home, a life of physical pain, heartache, and against-the-odds victories.
Cheney. He was White House chief of staff. He was secretary of defense. They thought his career was over. And then he became one of the most hated and feared politicians in the land, one heartbeat away from the presidency. But that was only the beginning. After months of the politicos’ eyeing the field, Dick Cheney surprised them all by storming in late in the race and taking the Republican nomination for president in 2008…
You get the idea. There are a lot of stories out there. No need for us to be seeing the same movie. Or worse than that: an Al Gore production.
© 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.