With Eyes Wide Shut to Terror; Hollywood Ignores Reality

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 29, 2005 | Go to article overview
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With Eyes Wide Shut to Terror; Hollywood Ignores Reality


Byline: Diana West, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's amazing what's possible if you close your eyes. An American television news organization - such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN or MSNBC - can close its eyes and accept videotape procured by Al-Jazeera in concert with terrorists who kill and maim American soldiers. A Hollywood director, such as Sydney Pollack, can close his eyes and pretend that terrorism is a plot device and the United Nations is an honest broker. Leaps of morality and boundaries of logic may be hurdled simply by turning a blind eye to facts.

To what end? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dorrance C. Smith connects the bloody dots between terrorists who assist Al-Jazeera in obtaining film footage that appears on the evening news in America. Among other pointed questions, he asks: "Do the U.S. networks know the terms of the relationship that Al-Jazeera has with the terrorists? Do they want to know?"

To date, the answer is a morally reprehensible no. But see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkeys aren't the best role models for journalists. Then again, maybe this very numbness to facts is in fact a culture-wide phenomenon that our news media merely reflect.

Take Mr. Pollack's new movie on international terrorism, "The Interpreter." Stepping back from even the outermost brink of reality, it switched the source of terrorism from a fictional Middle Eastern country to a fictional African country. "We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way," Kevin Misher, the movie's producer, told the Wall Street Journal. Politics? How about encumbering the film with a little history or maybe a few current events?

But fantasy-land is where Hollywood lives these days. The world burns and Steven Spielberg remakes the sci-fi chestnut "The War of the Worlds." The producers of last summer's "The Manchurian Candidate" drop an Osama bin Laden-like character for being too "Tom Clancy." Meanwhile, Mr. Clancy's "Sum of All Fears" was also too "Tom Clancy," so the 2002 movie replaced the Islamic terror cell of the 1991 book with some generic old Nazis.

Then there's "The Great New Wonderful," the first movie set in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. But, as newyorkmetro.com reports, "The completed script never mentions Bush, terrorists, Michael Moore, Fox News, or even September 11." Don't look for Afghanistan, the hunt for Osama bin Laden or the fall of the Taliban, either.

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