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Is 'Green Zone' really appallingly anti-American?

When it comes to healthcare legislation, congressional Republicans keep saying let's scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. That's sort of the way conservative bloggers feel about Hollywood movies, with an emphasis on the "scratch the whole thing" part of the equation. In fact, conservatives have been blasting away with all cylinders against the two leading Oscar movies, regularly attacking both "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" as being either anti-military or anti-American in general.

Green_zone_movie_poster_matt_damon_01 So it should come as no surprise to Universal Pictures that conservative bloggers are going to be lying in the weeds for the studio's upcoming Matt Damon-starring Iraq thriller, "Green Zone," especially since Damon is known in conservative circles as one of those bleeding-heart-liberal types. And sure enough, the New York Post film critic/blogger Kyle Smith, who's been pounding away on "The Hurt Locker" for months, has just seen "Green Zone" and, well, he's frothing-at-the-mouth crazy mad about it.

In fact, he admits that "if I were the kind of excitable guy who believes in boycotts, I'd say 'Boycott NBC-Universal' for its appalling new anti-American flick, 'Green Zone,' an absurdly awful would-be actioner that stars Matt Damon as a U.S. warrant officer in 2003 Baghdad."

What's gone so wrong with the picture, which after all, is directed by Paul Greengrass, who made the extraordinarily powerful 9/11 picture "United 93"? According to Smith, Greengrass' new film depicts some Americans as -- gasp -- the bad guys. In fact, he claims -- and I say claims, because other people who've attended early screenings of the film didn't see it this way at all -- that the film has sequences where "we're supposed to cheer because our soldiers are getting shot down -- but it's okay because they're evildoers at worst or stooges at best who are trying to kill the one guy in the country who can prevent an insurgency from taking root."

Smith also proposes the quasi-preposterous claim that the film's Judith Miller-like reporter character is portrayed as working for the Wall Street Journal rather than the New York Times "because Hollywood liberals can't accept that The Times ever gets anything wrong." In fact, according to my colleague John Horn, who just wrote a post about the fictionalized reporter character, "in the film's original screenplay, [the character] was identified as a reporter for the New York Times, but the legal departments at Universal Pictures and producing partner Working Title Films changed her affiliation to the Wall Street Journal so that audiences wouldn't confuse the character with an actual journalist."

I'm not so sure that the Journal will be flattered that a big studio film is portraying one of their reporters as being duped by government misinformation, especially when it was their arch rival whose reporter was the real dupe, but it seems clear that the studio did it for legal reasons, not political ones. But when conservatives ridicule Hollywood movies for their politics, it's a rarity for anyone to let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

But for those looking to make up their own mind about the film, "Green Zone" hits theaters March 12.

Recent and Related:

'Green Zone': The Wall Street Journal takes sniper fire

'Avatar' arouses conservatives' ire

Comments () | Archives (29)

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Most conservatives I know (As a libertarian, I pretty much don't like either of you) don't think of Matt Damon as a 'bleeding heart' liberal. They think of him as a 'commie who wants to control your life' kind of liberal. If you are blind enough to think that the reporter being changed to the Wall Street Journal was not politically motivated, ESPECIALLY coming out of NBC, then you must be one of those liberals yourself. Further, if you are not smart enough to know that political activism is one of the reasons people avoid Hollywood movies, you may be beyond hope!

Rational Conservative Americans have to understand one thing about the Hollywood business which precludes any political motivations: The block-buster movie model is dependent upon the global market. Given the perverse amount of money that these producers, directors and high-profile stars make from these big budget movies it should be more than clear to any student of Econ 101 that to optimize their marginal utility curve that they must use themes and messages that will reach the hearts, minds and, most importantly, the wallets of the most people throughout this planet.

The Hollywood producers, directors and stars will drive their Prius and laud feel-good liberal messages but they live their lives in mansions behind private gates, fly around in private jets, relax in private yachts and dine in the most expensive restaurants. It makes all the sense in the world that they say and do in public and in their product (movies) that which makes them as popular to as many people in the world as possible: Their private lives tell you what they really think while their movies tell you - the global market - what you want to think.

For example, think about James Cameron and Avatar. The message of the movie is that people need to be more thoughtful about using and sharing the Earth's resources which uses a hypothetical Western/American conglomerate as a corporate villain: Meanwhile, Cameron flies around in his private jet, has one of the biggest private yachts on the planet and goes home - one of them - to an extremely private property that is hundreds of acres in the Hollister area north of Santa Barbara.

Don't take the message of Hollywood movies too seriously. It's only business...

Everyone has a dark side; this includes people, corporations, and countries. To create a story such as this is not to say that it is "anti-American", but does reflect the fact that there are Americans and governmental agencies that do these kinds of things. Films often mirror our own cultural values or history, and to believe that Americans are the greatest people ever or are incapable of harming others is proposterous. Does Hollywood stretch the truth? Does it spin the story to make it seemingly more interesting or to catch the public's attention? Of course it does, and if it didn't it wouldn't be doing it's job, but one must also acknowledge that many of the stories that are told on the silver screen are simply dramatized versions of similar events that have actually happened. Everyone is capable of evil, even Americans, and to make any ad hoc rationalizations that they're not is a commonly misplaced belief.

Hollywood is not liberal. They want to make you think they are, but really they are a bunch of conservative loonies. Look at how racial matters are handled in films - you'd think it was the 1950's. How many big minority stars are there on TV?

Why all the fuss? Either it is a work of fiction (so the newspaper name is the least to be upset about), or the Iraq war was unjustified and illegal, (so the newspaper name is the least to be upset about).

"I'm not so sure that the Journal will be flattered that a big studio film is portraying one of their reporters as being duped by government misinformation, especially when it was their arch rival whose reporter was the real dupe, but it seems clear that the studio did it for legal reasons, not political ones."

No, because the filmmakers know something that you and Mr. Horn don't: anyone who plunks down $10 to watch Matt Damon in anything doesn't have a working brain cell!

name of "star" + subject matter (name of "film") = absolutely no interest on my part - how many of this type of money-loser will Hollywood make?

It's a movie. That's all. For every neocon that says it's anti-American you're going to get another person to say it's not. You can read into it anything you want. It's not a documentary, and although it may have parts that are based on some actual incident, (and no one is saying it does) it's just a film. It's a writers vision of whatever he or she wants to say. Directors, Producers and Movie Studios are going to pick up and make a film that they believe will have a large draw. It's about making a buck, for them and their shareholders. It's an industry, like oil and gas. (Talk about huge profits) It just happens to be an Industry that has a bigger, farther-reaching platform than most other industries. That's what they're trying to do, take advantage of that platform. Granted, some movies are made to make a statement, but those are up front about it, as well as being obvious about their intentions. Movies like "GREEN ZONE" are, of course going to stir debate, but after all is said and done, it's just a movie... no matter how badly some want you to think otherwise.

The sentence construction in Smith's blog item is horrendous. Sort of diminishes the impact of his mouth-frothing.

The Hurt Locker is "anti-American"?

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