A Slew of Iraq War Films

Tuned into a nation’s slowly changing mood

Chris Stephen writes:

[Black Watch director John] Tiffany thinks directors are barking up the wrong tree if they think in terms of movies-with-a-message. “Don’t kid yourself that you can change the world through art,” he says. “You can’t tell an audience what to think – all you can give is a greater understanding.”

Right, and advertising has zero effect on audiences, doesn’t affect people’s thinking at all, which is why corporations spend a monstrous amount on it. No message there. Don’t buy our product! And educational films and books don’t educate and affect what people think, which is why textbooks are so zealously regulated and censored by the culture police, etc, ad nauseum. There’s no messages in getting crucial facts and analyses right. It could mean anything! Knowledge and drama that reveals powerfully the illegal and immoral nature of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq would never be used to stop the ongoing crime and bring those who carried it out to justice! That would make too much sense. So Hollywood, following Tiffany’s line of thought, must not produce it. Not because it’s too threatening to the powers that be, as it is, but because whatever is too threatening to the powers that be is inherently not “entertaining” – nobody is moved in film by anyone being brought to justice, or by ending great wrongs. That’s boring! 

Obviously Tiffany’s comments are contradictory. Well-placed and well-analyzed and well-dramatized facts carry messages and have certain rather predictable effects that experiences lacking that sort of thing don’t. All movies, etc, have such messages. Better to know what you’re doing, and that you are doing something, and be responsible for it, than not.

But perhaps the greatest problem facing Hollywood is that reality keeps outpacing fiction.

I wrote an investigative anti Iraq war novel within the first six months of the March 2003 ground invasion, and nothing in it is outdated. I got the facts correct then and they still apply today – only moreso. It’s called doing the root research.

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