May 25, 2004


I've almost made it through the full cycle, so tonight was Rocky IV.

I didn't really live through the Cold War. I mean, I did, but not in the way my parents did. I vaguely remember the Wall coming down, but it didn't really mean that much to me as a 12 year old. However, I do remember the era's movies. Superman IV. War Games. Rocky IV. I distinctly remember seeing these movies, and I remember feeling scared about the bad guys and cheering for the good guys.

We don't have movies like that anymore.

Lileks recently wrote that he'd like to see them make a movie about 9/11. I would too, but it'll never happen.

I think people would like these stories to be told, but we can’t have war movies anymore unless it’s an old war, or one that happened in some place with an oversupply of consonants. It’s not that Hollywood is unpatriotic or wishes America to lose; they’d bristle at the charge. But they want Bush to lose first and foremost, and after that we’ll see what happens. To make a movie about The War admits that there is a war, and sometimes I think a third of the country rejects this notion out of hand. We’re only at war because Bush made us go to war! or we’re only at war because we don’t let Interpol handle it! or some such delusion. I swear: there are people who see the conflict in such narrow terms that if Bush on 9/11 had announced he was forcing Israel back to pre-67 borders, and the hijackers had heard the news in the cockpit, they would have hit the autopilot and let the planes resume their original course.

So what happens in Rocky IV? The Soviets challenge the Americans to a boxing match, and Apollo takes the bait. In the press conference, the reporters boo the Soviets for claiming they could beat Apollo Creed. Let me repeat that: the reporters boo the Soviets. Apollo dies, Rocky trains (and gets more muscle than humanly possible), and the arena is filled with Drago supporters for the big fight. Rocky holds his own, and suddenly the Soviets are cheering for Rocky. Rocky breaks Drago, and then he takes the mic and tells the Soviets they can change and the crowd goes wild.

Propaganda? Of course so. But it's a plot we all wanted to see at the time.

Our movies were optimistic. We thought we were the good guys and we wrote movies where the bad guys wanted to be us in the end. The Soviets cheer Rocky. He said he learned to like them and maybe they could learn to like him, and the crowd went wild. And when Rocky shook his American flag (which apparently is a no-no in 2004) the Soviets cheered and the Politboro stood up and clapped.

Look, I know it's just a movie, but movies influence our thinking. I strongly believe that those who fought back against the terrorists on Flight 93 would never have done so if they hadn't been raised on movies like Passenger 57 and Air Force One. What will our kids be raised on if they never see movies about the brave folks on 9/11 or the courageous soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? We need a made-for-TV movie about Pat Tillman, not Jessica Lynch. Don't give us the victim-hero; give us the hero-hero. If our kids grow up on Fahrenheit 9/11 and the movie about Richard Clarke's book, we'll be in deep trouble in twenty years.

We made Cold War movies during the Cold War, but I don't think we'll see one War on Terrorism movie anytime soon. I think that's a travesty.


More above.

Posted by Sarah at May 25, 2004 09:14 PM

We've got the Moore movie on 9/11 coming out - but I somehow don't think that counts.

Somebody will make a 'real' movie on 9/11. And the big shots in Hollywood will refuse to distribute it. And somebody else will, and will make a fortune ('The Passion' ring any bells? Mel - are you listening?)

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