Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper

By Daniel Greenfield

American Sniper is the movie that should not have existed. Even though the book was a bestseller, nobody in Hollywood wanted the rights.

 And why would they?

 The Iraq War already had an official narrative in Hollywood. It was bad and wrong. Its veterans were crippled, dysfunctional and dangerous. Before American Sniper, Warner Brothers had gone with anti-war flicks like Body of Lies and In the Valley of Elah. It had lost a fortune on Body of Lies; but losing money had never stopped Hollywood from making anti-war movies that no one wanted to watch.

Even the Hurt Locker had opened with a quote from leftist terrorist supporter Chris Hedges.

An Iraq War movie was supposed to be an anti-war movie. There was no other way to tell the story. Spielberg’s own interest in American Sniper was focused on “humanizing” the other side. When he left and Clint Eastwood, coming off a series of failed films, took the helm, it was assumed that American Sniper would briefly show up in theaters and then go off to die quietly in what was left of the DVD aisle.

And then American Sniper broke box office records that had been set by blockbusters like Avatar, Passion and Hangover Part II by refusing to demonize American soldiers or to spin conspiracy tales about the war. Instead of pandering to coastal progressives, it aimed at the patriotic heartland.

In a sentence you no longer expected to hear from a Hollywood exec, the Warner Brothers distribution chief said, “This is about patriotism and all the things people say the country is lacking these days.”

The backlash to that patriotism and the things the country is lacking these days didn’t take very long to form and it goes a lot deeper than snide tweets from Michael Moore and Seth Rogen. Academy members were reportedly passing around an article from the New Republic, whose author had not actually seen the movie, but still denounced it for not showing Chris Kyle as a bigoted murderer.

Hollywood progressives are both threatened and angered by American Sniper. And with good reason.

The most basic reason is the bottom line. Between Lone Survivor, Unbroken and American Sniper, the patriotic war movie is back. Hollywood could only keep making anti-war movies no one would watch as long as that seemed to be the only way to tackle the subject. Now there’s a clear model for making successful and respectful war movies based around the biographies and accounts of actual veterans.

Hollywood studios had been pressured by left-wing stars into wasting fortunes on failed anti-war conspiracy movies. Matt Damon had managed to get $150 million sunk into his Green Zone failed anti-war movie before stomping away from Universal in a huff. Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe had a real budget estimated at around $120 million, but had opened third after Beverly Hills Chihuahua whose titular tiny dog audiences preferred to either star and their political critiques.

But why spend over a hundred million on anti-war movies no one wants when American Sniper has already made over $120 million on a budget only half that much?

Hollywood progressives don’t look forward to having to write, direct and star in patriotic pictures and if they can’t destroy American Sniper at the box office, they can taint it enough that no major star or director will want to be associated with anything like it.

Adding to their undercurrent of anger is the way that American Sniper upstaged Selma at the box office and at the Academy Award nominations. Selma is a mediocre movie, but it was meant to be a platform for the usual conversation that progressives want to have about how terrible Americans are. Instead audiences chose to see a movie about how great Americans can be even in difficult times.

There’s nothing that threatens the left as much as that.

In a Best Picture lineup that includes the obligatory paeans to gay rights and the evils of racism, American Sniper distinctly stands out as something different. It displaces Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, the previous sure winner which had its obligatory drunken Iraq War veteran claiming that the war was fought for oil, with an authentic veteran instead of Hollywood’s twisted caricature of one.

American Sniper and Lone Survivor signal a shifting wind in which the focus of movies about the War on Terror moves from the organizational conspiracy theories that Hollywood liked to make to the personal narratives of the men who fought in them. Many of the smarter progressive reviews of American Sniper grapple with the fact that the time when they could even have their favorite argument is going away.

Progressives would like Dick Cheney to be the face of the war, but are forced to deal with a world in which Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell will be how America sees the conflict. The lens through which the left liked to view the war, its obsessions with WMD, Bush and the path to war, have been eclipsed by the rise of ISIS and the return of American veterans. Their worldview has become outdated and irrelevant.

It’s easier for the left to vent its anger on American Sniper than to deal with its own irrelevance. The most shocking thing about the movie is not any political statement, but its presumption in dealing with the Iraq War and the men in it as if it were WW2. It doesn’t confront the left; instead it acts as if the left isn’t there. It fails to acknowledge the entire worldview through which Hollywood dealt with the war.

The left spends most of its time living in its own bubble and is shocked when events remind it that the rest of the country does not really share its opinions and tastes. American Sniper’s success is one of those explosive wake-up calls and the left has responded to it with all the expected vicious pettiness.

A billboard for the movie was vandalized and attacks from lefty outlets like New Republic and Vox not only target the movie, but the dead man at the center of it. The smear campaign against Kyle has reached new lows, because in death he has become an even more powerful symbol of everything that the left hates.

Hollywood tried to “Vietnamize” Iraq in the popular imagination. American Sniper shows they failed.

Whether or not American Sniper wins the requisite number of Oscars, its impact on Hollywood and on ordinary Americans will not go away. The anti-war movie is in eclipse. The movies that tell the stories of the sacrifices that American veterans have made in the war against Islamic terrorists are rising.

Sultan Knish

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Left's Base Motive: Vengeance

January 2, 2015
By J.R. Dunn 

American leftism has gotten an awful lot of mileage by monopolizing the moral high ground. It is the sole force in American that favors the poor. The sole enemy of racism. The sole comforter of rape victims.  The sole protector of defenseless Muslims. The sole guardian of the environment, and so on ad nauseum.

It all falls apart eventually -- with friends like the left, nobody needs enemies. But often overlooked is that fact that it’s bogus from the start. Any prolonged glance at the left reveals it to be an ideology of power, its major tool violence, its goal revenge.   

Leftism has always been about revenge. The works of Marx are filled with fantasies of retribution and judgment. Their tone reeks of resentment and paranoia, with blame cast for even the most trivial. "The bourgeoisie,” Marx once declared in a letter to Engels, “will remember my carbuncles until their dying day.” That’s leftism in a nutshell.

The Paris communards of 1870, the first instance of an actual leftist government-in-being, immediately began shooting bourgeois on taking power, giving full rein to the European hatred for the middle class that is all but incomprehensible to Americans. That practice has been repeated by every hard left government that has ever taken power -- the USSR, communist China, Castroite Cuba, Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, down to minor examples such as Bela Kun’s Hungarian “Regime of Light” (1919), which reintroduced the Roman practice of decimation.

This unvarying tendency toward atrocity suggests that all these regimes had something in common, and it’s not that they all suffered from boils. It’s the lust for vengeance -- revenge for slights and crimes either real or imaginary,  that can be found in every leftist from Nechaev to Bill Ayers. No less than Barack Obama spilled that when, his back apparently against the wall in 2012, he began ranting about “voting for revenge”.

This was displayed clearly enough this past holiday season.
First in the wave of bogus rape stories, brought up not to assure prosecution or to curtail such crimes, but solely as ideological weapons for use by feminists.

American leftism has always been about magnifying trivial complaints to serve as excuses for revolutionary action. The U.S. has never had a feudal system, nor a proletariat, nor any other conceivable reason for revolution. (German Marxist Werner Sombart pointed out in 1903 that the American masses already possessed what the left was promising them. His comrades badgered him mercilessly for this insight.) Instead we see trivia blown up to apocalyptic proportions -- and nowhere less than in feminism. Betty Friedan hated the suburbs. Gloria Steinem served as a Playboy bunny and never got over the humiliation. They therefore set out to upend Western civilization by inflating these slights while millions of other women fastened on atrocities such as “the male gaze,” having doors opened for them, “manspreading,” and attempted pickups -- or lack of the same.

The one actual atrocity available was rape, which feminists have utilized as heavy artillery -- “all men are rapists”, “all sex is rape”, and the like. The latest barrage came from Tawana Dunham and Rolling Stone’s “Jackie.”  

Dunham, the East Coast sophisticate’s 300-lb. “It” girl, claimed in a memoir that she had been raped by an infamous Republican while at college,  while “Jackie” regaled Rolling Stone with a tale of gang rape at the hands of the always-reliable frat house.

Suffice to say not a single detail of either story help up. A “Barry” did attend Oberlin, and he was a power in local campus conservative politics, but he lacked a handlebar mustache and he’d never met Dunham. The fraternity in “Jackie’s” yarn threw no party the night in question, nor did she show any signs of suffering such an ordeal. One of the grotesque aspects of this scandal is that nobody in the legacy media so much as alluded to the Brawley and Duke hoaxes, which in many ways were identical to these accounts. In the Brawley case a black teenage girl, afraid to return home after a late night out, claimed to have been raped by a gang of whites under degrading circumstances. A gullible media hooted the story to the skies, egged on by the “Rev.” Al Sharpton. In the Duke case, the entire lacrosse team was publicly indicted for the mass rape of a stripper brought in to entertain a stag party.

Both these stories began to collapse almost immediately, but proponents insisted it didn’t matter -- white men had raped black women innumerable times before, so collective guilt demanded that someone be persecuted. As for Duke, lacrosse was an upper-class WASP sport, and the team deserved to be punished for that alone.

Dunham and “Jackie” would do well to contemplate the fates of the accusers in these hoaxes. 

Although Brawley’s champion Al Sharpton used the incident as his next step in clawing his way to the heights (if that’s the word) of MSNBC, Brawley herself today lives pseudonymously in Northern Virginia owing millions in legal fines. The Duke athlete’s accuser, Crystal Mangum, is serving hard time for the murder of a paramour.

Both Dunham and “Jackie” were looking for revenge for something -- all that we know is that it wasn’t rape.

Even more serious -- for the nation as a whole as well as those directly involved -- is current racial unrest triggered by blatant attempts to manipulate racial tensions through the actions and rhetoric of Barack Obama and Eric Holder et al. Long-term efforts to decriminalize the actions of black lawbreakers, beginning with the Trayvon Martin incident and progressing to the Ferguson shooting, have dovetailed with several standard episodes of police incompetence in Cleveland and Staten Island to create as fraught a racial atmosphere as at any time since the late 60s. (So much for the “post-racial” president.) This culminated in the assassination of two police officers in Brooklyn by an unstable career criminal, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who had boasted on his Facebook page that he was out to avenge the Brown shooting by “giving wings to pigs.” (With the customary competence of the urban gangster, Brinsley shot not white officers but Wenjian Liu, an Asian, and Rafeal Ramos, a Hispanic.)

Here is a case where the leftist yearning for vengeance was reified by a maniac -- a not at all uncommon occurrence. Their rhetoric and posturing brought their fantasies and desires for vengeance to life before their eyes -- though certainly not in a way that they would have approved of, seeing as there can be little opportunity to exploit it. Whatever else he was, Brinsley is in no way a revolutionary hero.

The left’s entanglement with vengeance is easily understood -- it has nothing else. Their messiah has failed to lead them into Eden -- his policies, both domestic and foreign, have failed catastrophically one after another, leaving him nothing to show for six years as president and a nightmare gauntlet for the remainder of his term. His response -- and the response of the left as a whole -- amounts to little more than disjointed and incoherent actions. In the past six years, every last hope and dream of the left has been exposed -- there is nothing left.

So what does the left have but vengeance? It got them this far -- it will have to maintain them through the rest of Obama’s tenure, and beyond. 

So it follows that we will see more of it over the coming two years.  It could be argued, in fact, that a number of Obama’s recent actions amount to revenge. His immigration “reform” was punishment for a nation not worthy of him. His “opening” to Cuba acts as a punishment of Hispanics for letting him down in the midterms.

“Revenge is a dish best eaten cold”; “When seeking vengeance, be sure to dig two graves”. All the adages concerning revenge are cautionary. It’s something to be avoided, to be left to fate or karma or the hands of the Almighty. This is not something to be overlooked, if the condition of Tawana Brawley and Crystal Mangum are any indication.

But the left will overlook it. They despise ancient wisdom and they don’t have an Almighty. That being the case, we should prepare for a parade of Trayvons and “Jackies”, Lenas, and Ismaaiyls.

American Thinker