Fulcrum Ruminations

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sound and Fury Come Round Again

So this week's sound and fury revolves around the ABC television movie regarding the build-up to 9/11. Democrats and the left blogosphere are outraged, outraged they tell us, due to the inaccuracies in the historical events portrayed. Republicans and the right blogosphere are outraged at the other side's outrage.

Controversy surges back and forth over the matter. ABC protests that the final edit is not complete (which seems unlikely for a production that's supposed to air in two days) and the critics haven't even seen the thing yet.

The critics charge that the film is partly or maybe even entirely a slam at President Clinton for deliberately passing up chances at cutting Osama bin Laden off at the knees when he had the chance. Reportedly various of his administration are portrayed in a fairly negative light as well.

I find this all very curious. First up, Hollywood's track record for accuracy in portraying historical events is pretty shabby. Remember back in the mid-90s when the Disney Company (parent of ABC, btw) film Pocahontas was heavily criticized for taking liberties with real events? And about the same time, the Mel Gibson vehicle Braveheart caught flack from historians for rearranging the real-life story of William Wallace. This is what Hollywood does. Unless the film is labeled "documentary", it's going to do this sort of thing. History is rewritten to make the story more interesting, or flow better, or whatever excuse the writers use. No-one should be surprised at this.

Heck, go back to 1976's All the President's Men and you'll find a partially fictionalized account of the Watergate affair. Or even farther, to all those rah-rah World War II movies showing the brave, infallible Americans tearing up those goofy Nazis and caricatured Japanese. This is nothing new.

I think what's got the Democrats and the left in such an uproar is that Hollywood is usually on their side. It's been a cozy relationship for a good long time, what with all the left-wing causes espoused and supported by the Hollywood elite. Hollywood still loves Bill Clinton, so perhaps that's what makes this sting so much. A lover scorned and all that.

At any rate, much hate and discontent is flowing thru the Democratic Party, the Clinton camp, and the left in general. ABC seems not a little bewildered by this.

From what I understand, Clinton and Sandy Berger, among others, are blamed for things that they didn't actually do, or are protrayed as doing things in a manner totally at odds with what they actually did at the time. If this is true then they have good cause for complaint. It's one thing to rewrite the history of someone like William Wallace, dead for several centuries, but it's quite another to pull the same stunt on someone who's still around to notice how poorly they're being treated.

The real danger of this whole thing, which is being overlooked in the course of the huffing and puffing going on, is that the public imagination will take in this fictionalized account and in short order get it all confused with the genuine history of the events portrayed. Reality will no longer be what history recorded, but rather what Hollywood says it was. Hardly a new phenomenon, to be sure, but still worrisome.

I notice with some degree of amusement that many of the very same people now so outraged over this were strangely quiet - in some cases even delighted - when Michael Moore's heavily propagandized film Farenheit 9/11 was in theatres. I guess your outrage depends on whether the lies - excuse me, dramatizations - are pointed at you or at your idealogical opponents.

There are rumors and demands that ABC will either edit their film or pull it entirely due to the rancor being generated. This would be unfortunate, for as flawed as the film may be, it is still protected by the first amendment as free speech. But then, that's another thing that seems to depend on whether it's working for you or against you.

The left blogosphere is orchestrating a movement to "google bomb" the film, so that any google searches on it will be directed to left-wing blogs where interested parties will be educated as to the "correct" version of history. Or the left's version of it, at any rate. And of course where the vast right-wing conspiracy that produced the film can be properly exposed and excoriated. It wasn't terribly long ago that the left-wing blogs were full of outrage at right-wing bloggers conducting a campaign on amazon.com to artificially inflate the reviews of a conservative author's book (I forget the details of this one). Again, the degree of outrage seems curiously dependent on which side of the debate is using the tactic.

I can only point out once again that Left and Right are two sides of the same coin. They use the same tactics, mouth the same inanities, charge each other with the same sins, and generally drift further and further out of touch with reality.



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