Now playing at multiplex: Propaganda

May 27, 2004|By Linda Chavez

WASHINGTON - Remember when movies aimed to entertain? You could take the whole family and escape the quotidian for the silver screen, watching bigger-than-life heroes engage in daring and admirable deeds. Or you could share a few laughs without worrying about offensive double-entendres or scatological references.

No more. Now, if Hollywood isn't drenching its audience in blood or titillating it with naked bodies, it is propagandizing us with left-wing paranoia or pushing a radical social agenda. Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9-11, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last week, is a good example. The film claims to be a documentary, but it doesn't document anything but Mr. Moore's dementia.

Mr. Moore spins a tale of perfidy involving Osama bin Laden, Saudi princes, President Bush and his father, President George H. W. Bush, among other villains and evildoers. He blames the Bushes for creating bin Laden and, by extension, for killing nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, not to mention thousands of Afghans and Iraqis, and hundreds of U.S. soldiers.

Mr. Moore isn't interested in entertaining us, much less depicting the truth. He wants to defeat President Bush at the polls in November, plain and simple. His propaganda fest won plaudits at Cannes, but I doubt it will draw droves into the local multiplex.

The Day After Tomorrow, which opens tomorrow, is director Roland Emmerich's $200 million gift to Al Gore Democrats. The film depicts ice storms freezing Paris, tidal waves destroying Manhattan and tornadoes ripping apart Los Angeles, all on the same day. And why has Mother Nature turned so malevolent? Because we benighted Americans failed to heed the warnings of enviro-visionaries such as the former vice president, who once wrote that the internal combustion engine posed a threat "more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront."

Mr. Emmerich says climate change is the only problem "big enough to force all countries of the world to stop fighting and work together to save the planet." Yeah, right. Maybe al-Qaida and Hamas can be persuaded to use only carbon-neutral components in their suicide bombs. The biggest disaster Mr. Emmerich's film portends, however, may be at the box office. Who wants to pay anywhere from $7.50 to $12 to be propagandized for two hours?

And it's not just political agendas Hollywood pushes. Even ostensibly innocuous films such as the blockbuster Shrek 2 sneak in a message here and there. When I took my granddaughter to see the film over the weekend, I was amazed to see a foppish Prince Charming go off into the sunset with a transvestite "ugly sister" when Princess Fiona chose the ogre Shrek over him at the conclusion of the film. Larry King's unmistakable gravelly baritone made the character's cross-dressing obvious to the adults in the audience. Sure, the gag went over the heads of most of the kids in the theater, but it wasn't particularly funny and seemed aimed only at adding a "gay" theme to a children's film.

No wonder an increasing number of Americans never go to the movies these days. The Gallup Organization reports that nearly one-third of Americans haven't set foot in a movie theater in the previous 12 months, and even those who did go to the movies saw fewer films in 2003 than the previous year.

Samuel Goldwyn, one of the giants of the movie industry, is reported to have said, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." But too many producers, directors and actors these days fail to heed his advice. Hollywood will start filling theaters once again when it stops churning out agitprop and starts producing entertainment.

Linda Chavez's syndicated column appears Thursdays in The Sun.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.