Friday, March 23, 2007

"The Right's Michael Moore"

Making my way through the magazines that have been piling up since January, I finally got to the New Yorker piece about "24" creator Joel Surnow and the Vanity Fair piece about ex-Hollywood-agent-turned-pro-war-documentarian Pat Dollard. (Unfortunately, the Vanity Fair piece, which was in the March 2007 “Hollywood” issue, is not online, but you can read a little about “The Right’s Michael Moore” in this WaPo article.)

The thing that sticks out about both of these clowns is that when they make their “art,” the law of unintended consequences takes over, only the consequences aren't confined to Hollywood. It’s entertainment industry-generated blowback.

The first half of the New Yorker piece describes the role that torture plays in every episode of “24.” (I don’t watch the show, so this was all news to me). Then the article shifts to efforts by the dean of West Point and officials of human rights organizations to clue the “24” staff into the fact that (a) torture doesn’t work and (b) that their glamorized weekly depictions of it are making it difficult to convince the people in the military that torture is, you know, not okay. From Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece:

Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors – cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal, but what s right. However, it had become increasing hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. … “The kids see it and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’”
Surnow could give a shit. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the victim: “Conservatives are the new oppressed class,” he joked in his office. “Isn’t it bizarre that in Hollywood it’s easier to come out as gay than as conservative?” (BTW, the picture of Surnow at the link speaks a thousand words.)

Then there’s Pat Dollard who's going to, you know, balance all the anti-American war documentaries out there. You need to get your hands on that March Vanity Fair article, because when Dollard’s little “pro-war documentary” comes out – woo boy! – we are going to have some fun. The article is chock full of vivid descriptions of Dollard’s, um, "colorful" character and wretched excesses (with cocaine, alcohol, and meth, among other delights). Author Evan Wright:
Somewhere between the Roman orgy and the mental ward [Dollard] became a staunch supporter of George W. Bush's.
Makes perfect sense to me. Tough-guy Dollard, who also whines about being a victim of big bad liberal Hollywood, was embedded with the Marines in Iraq and his antics (believe me, “antics” is a kind word to describe what Dollard was up to over there) result in a gunfight, looted liquid valium, and commander complaints about how hard it is to get the troops to do their jobs when he’s making a general pest of himself in their war zone. Somewhere along the line he shoots a bunch of footage that he turns into a movie and when it’s released, I think the family values crowd is really going to love it.

John "Torture Memo" Yoo digs "24." Ann "Faggot" Coulter loves Dollard.

The company you keep...

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