HOLLYWOOD'S NEW WAR OF INDEPENDENCE... (.or How Political Correctness Abuses History and Always Makes the English the Movie Villains)

Daily Mail (London), June 20, 2000 | Go to article overview

HOLLYWOOD'S NEW WAR OF INDEPENDENCE... (.or How Political Correctness Abuses History and Always Makes the English the Movie Villains)


Byline: PAUL JOHNSON

THE LATEST shocker in Hollywood's hate campaign against the English is The Patriot, a film set during the American War of Independence against Britain.

It presents George III's Redcoats as Nazi-style SS troops, torturing, burning and slaughtering innocent civilians.

The hero of the movie is played by Mel Gibson, in a character based upon the American guerilla leader Francis Marion. The villain is British Colonel Banastre Tarleton, portrayed as a sadistic child-murderer.

The campaign is anti-English because it is driven by political correctness in which imperialists are automatically baddies by definition. The English, who ran the biggest empire in world history, are therefore the worst of all.

It is easy to see why anti-English films are part of Hollywood's commercial stock-in-trade. In Hollywood's Golden Age, it was the reverse. Stars tried to talk like West End actors. Would-be stars were forced to change their Continental names to Anglo surnames.

BRITAIN'S empire was lavishly applauded in Hollywood epics, with English stars such as Ronald Colman and David Niven playing heroic young officers and C. Aubrey Smith (later Sir Aubrey) playing the kindly colonel.

In those days, there was no shortage of baddies drawn from what Kipling called 'lesser breeds without the law' - Arabs, Bedouin, ferocious Afghans, slitty-eyed Chinese, Red Indians and 'bad' real Indians, cruel Siamese and African savages.

Other villains were guttural Germans, sly Russians, sadistic Spaniards, Levantine 'gentlemen' and, if needs be, crafty and bloodthirsty French.

Now for a variety of PC reasons, all these baddies are forbidden. Making a movie in which the chief villain is non-white, or even just dark (or homosexual), is regarded as professional suicide. Indeed, the English are about the only race left who can be portrayed behaving disgustingly without raising any objection from the PC censors.

Hence for commercial reasons, the facts of the American War of Independence have to be discarded in making an epic such as The Patriot.

In reality, Marion and Tarleton were both vigorous commanders who took no quarter and gave none, both a cut above the mediocrity common on both sides.

The British lost the war, not because they were cruel but because they behaved stupidly.

They sent over 30,000 German mercenaries whom the Americans hated.

They failed to pick a single first-class army commander.

They never established unity of command; they had individual armies under separate generals - elementary mistakes.

These individual commanders were given no powers to negotiate; everything had to be referred to London, at least six weeks away by sea, to men who had never set foot in America.

By contrast, the Americans had a single commander, George Washington, whose caution, consistency and attention to the nuts and bolts of warfare finally bore fruit.

Britain had to make terms in the end because she lost command of the sea and her main army, cut off at Yorktown, was forced to surrender. By this time, British public opinion had swung against the war and Parliament forced the King and his government to negotiate.

Of course, this is the kind of complex tale that doesn't interest Hollywood.

Nor has it the courage to deal with the real moral issues of the day, which the fighting obscured.

The Englishman Tarleton at least didn't keep slaves, as, of course, Marion did. And indeed, when Hollywood comes to deal with this untidy war, the explosive issue of slavery has to be hidden. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was a slave-owner all his life, and sustained his luxurious lifestyle by buying and selling them like cattle. …

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