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Iraq Movies: Why They Fail

by Chris Jones (writer), Houston, April 14, 2008

What Hollywood should do is another movie like "Blackhawk Down" which is both accurate and highly entertaining.

In his latest column, NY Times Op-ed writer Frank Rich gets it wrong (as usual) when talking about Iraq. This week in particular Frank misses the mark with his explanation of why movies about the Iraq war do so poorly at the Box Office.

He claims Americans want to avoid talking about the war or seeing images of it, because it's all too depressing and horrific to come to terms with.

It would take another column to list all the movies and TV shows about Iraq that have gone belly up at the box office or in Nielsen ratings in the nearly four years since the war’s only breakout commercial success, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” They die regardless of their quality or stand on the war, whether they star Tommy Lee Jones (“In the Valley of Elah”) or Meryl Streep (“Lions for Lambs”) or are produced by Steven Bochco (the FX series “Over There”) or are marketed like Abercrombie & Fitch apparel to the MTV young (“Stop-Loss”).

Frank says in the above quote that movies about Iraq "die regardless of their quality or stand on the war", but that is a misleading statement in itself. The only "stand" movies about Iraq have taken up to this point is an anti-war, anti-American, and anti-military stand. Which is precisely why they have been total and complete failures, and will continue to be no matter who stars in them or how many of them are made.

Americans would flock to see a kick-ass movie about the Iraq war that wasn't laden with anti-war/anti-American sentiments. When people go to the movies they're not looking to be preached to or indoctrinated by a hardcore left-wing agenda. They want to be entertained for 92 minutes and leaving the theater feeling good, or at least not leave feeling worse than when they went in.

Hollywood thinks the military is a bunch of country bumpkins turned war criminals who only joined the service to escape a miserable life of poverty and despair. I think John Kerry said it best when addressing a group of high school kids a year or so ago.

"Education -- if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well," said Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat. "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

The idea that only idiots without an education end up fighting for their country shows an ignorance about who the men and women of the military are that is nothing short of breathtaking.

The vast majority of Americans are proud of their country and don't see it as the evil, "torture nation" that many misguided liberals do. Our effort in Iraq has taken a toll on the American people, because of the incredible sacrifice in both blood and dollars.

Which is why it's so damn insulting for Hollywood to constantly promote the idea that our soldiers are victims or pawns and America is a terrible country.

As Frank mentions in his column, Hollywood distributor "Lions Gate" is holding back the release of their latest Iraq movie called "The Lucky Ones" which is said to be "sympathetic" to the veterans and allegedly made with full Army support.

In case your waiting for the other show to drop, it's starring Tim Robbins as one of the veterans which is sure leave moviegoers feeling warm and patriotic when they leave the theater.

What Hollywood should do is another movie like "Blackhawk Down" which is both accurate and highly entertaining. It's a movie that depicts the battle accurately while capturing the bravery and humility of the American soldier.

Take that formula and make a movie about the battle of Fallujah without anti-war activists as soldiers and you will have a hit movie. Get Ridley Scott to direct it and Joel Silver to produce it, and you'll have the biggest hit of the year.



About the Writer

Chris Jones is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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6 comments on Iraq Movies: Why They Fail

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By Glenn T on April 14, 2008 at 05:37 pm

Well put, Chris... That John Kerry quote gets me pissed off every, single time I read it.  I wonder if he's ever been just up the road from D.C. to Annpolis... where he'll find a bunch of young men and women who studied hard, did their homework, made an effort to be smart, did well... and are STILL headed off to Iraq, the moment they are called.

What an unbelievable ass that guy is. 

I saw In the Valley of Elah, and it wasn't half-bad... I do think it's important to try and get our heads around what sort of effect that war actually has on the men and women that fight it... the scenes with the amputees was particularly difficult for me to watch.

I'm not sure that Stop-Loss is a bad idea of a movie to make -- it's important that the youngest generation takes ownership of this war, since they're the ones fighting it.  I just hope that there can be more than one "MTV" point of view. 

Either way, this is sure to get folks thinking.  Well done.

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By Venditto on April 14, 2008 at 06:49 pm

Interesting article, but can you tell me specifically what has been "kick ass" about the Iraqi war so far.  I'm not being a smart ass or anything, I'm just an ignorant kid who only hears all the negative shit that every news program and Presidential candidates seems to be spewing.  Thanks.  By the way In the Valley of Elah was a wee bit slow, but still really powerful- At least Tommy Lee Jones was.

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By Chris Jones on April 14, 2008 at 07:16 pm

Glenn,

I agree with you about Valley of Elah it was a pretty entertaining movie. However, it had very dark anti-military undertones to it. Tommy Lee Jones hanging the flag upside down at the end was way over the top.

"Stop-Loss" wasn't bad either, it was also entertaining. But both movies were forgettable and predictable.

I've watched all the anti-war movies with the exception of one. "Redacted" I couldn't finish because it was truly the biggest piece of garbage that Hollywood has ever put out. A truly despicable movie that isn't worth the film it's printed on.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are a gold mine for hit movies if they would just quit with the left-wing message flicks.

Probably the best "War on Terror" movie I've seen recently was "The Kingdom" with Jamie Foxx. If you haven't seen it yet your missing out, it's a bad ass movie.

I totally agree with you about Annapolis. The kids who graduate from Annapolis, West Point, and the Air Force Academy are the best educated men and women in the world. Your average college student wouldn't make it a week at one of those institutions.

The academic load at a military academy is twice what it is at the best civilian universities anywhere.

As for John Kerry, he's a world class douchebag who never misses an opportunity to grandstand and rarely knows what the hell he's talking about.

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By Chris Jones on April 14, 2008 at 07:23 pm

Venditto,

The Iraq war has by no means been kick ass. What I meant was that Hollywood should make a kick ass movie that celebrates the many historic battles and incredible bravery of our troops. The numerous Medal of Honor winners that did absolutely incredible things under the most unimaginable of circumstances.

There are so many stories that are never told, just the same anti-war mantra over and over again.

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By D. E. Carson on April 14, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Chris:  I've seen none of the Iraq War movies that have been pushed out because I know that the Hollywood anti-America machine is pandering to the ultra-left wing, George Soros wackos out there.  I have to agree with you that Hollywood could make a Sergeant York for the Iraq War and if done right, do it very well, but as you said, our soldiers are being prtrayed as pawns and America as a terrible country.  I know that John Kerry's comment was intended to be a slam against George W. Bush, but I also know that Kerry isn't that smart of an individual.  Johnny Carson could have written a better joke.  I side with the troops on this one.  Kerry slapped every one of them across the face in a mere 37 words.  I also side with you that if Hollywood would get out of the liberal hate tank and make entertaining movies instead of homilies about the evil of war, people would start going to the movies again.  I'm sure that people are tired of the war.  They're also tired of seeing America run down time and time again by its own people.

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By Glenn T on April 15, 2008 at 02:15 am

Hey Chris,

I did see the Kingdom... it really was tremendous... and the only flick, so far, that really captures the craziness of what it must be like over there.  I found myself watching with utter disbelief - like life on a different planet...  I didn't even mind the fact that it was Jamie Foxx...

As for your statement on the service academies - your praise nearly rises to the point of hyperbole... but it's still nice to know that people still respect those places, and the task that it is to survive them.  I am certain, beyond any doubt, that I would not be the man I am today if not for my time spent on the shores of the Severn.   What kills me most is that John Kerry was a naval officer - who likely served alongside Academy men... and he dishonors each of them every time that sound bite is played. 

You're right about the upside-down flag at the end of Elah... I had almost forgotten... and it was way too much... put a crappy ending on an otherwise pretty good flick. 

This conflict should have its own Blackhawk Down... I don't want a film that celebrates George W. Bush, or justifies our getting into this mess... but there are hundreds of real heroes from this war - they deserve their war story to be told somplace besides the Good Book (our nickname for the CMOH commendation collection).

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