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Badfella By: Norman Tines
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, February 27, 2003


Martin Scorsese.

He’s joined the anti-American Hate-Fest in regards to Iraq.

As a script-writer and director, and as someone who has been a rabid fan of Scorsese’s work since my childhood, I am profoundly disappointed.

I have always been amazed by Scorsese’s skills as a director: his manipulation of the camera, his artistry, and his gift of making actors perform beyond their talents (Sandra Bernhardt, Sharon Stone and, if his recent films are any indication, Robert De Niro come to mind).

I admired his ability to reveal something about raw human energy and also about the human spirit and condition, from Raging Bull to Goodfellas -- and every film before or since.

And now I have to reconcile myself to the fact that, beyond filmmaking, Scorsese is little more than another pompous, shallow, and pampered Hollywood leftist.

Scorsese recently condemned a potential American attack on Iraq. He stated that the conflict with Iraq "part(ly)…has to do with oil." Yet he never explained what the other "part" of the war was about. He then went on to say, "I think it really has to come down to respecting how other people live. There's got to be a way this can be worked out diplomatically, there simply has to be."

And then he affirmed the 1991 anti-war slogan, "No blood for oil."

Yet these were empty words, words that have been regurgitated so many times out of the mouths of the "progressive" elite that they bear no meaning. And for a man like Martin Scorsese, with a body of work that is so meaningful, this is truly a tragic shame.

Perhaps I was naive and idealistic to believe that Scorsese was different. He came from the streets and lived and breathed with the common man. He witnessed much violence in his neighborhood and has depicted it with such profound understanding, tenderness and spirituality in his films. He seemed to understand that good and evil reside in all of us.

I thought a man who could paint such human portraits would be above the sickly simplistic philosophies of the Left. I expected that Scorsese would see war with a perspective of gravity. But what he has said thus far is nothing new, nothing courageous, nothing that even takes original thought. And, of course, nothing that dares cross the "progressive" Party Line.

Because I am in the film industry, I am only too well aware of what is happening.

If I personally voiced an approval of George Bush and the invasion of Iraq in my professional milieu, I would be blacklisted and never be able to produce another film. Since I am just a beginner, I cannot afford the luxury of engaging in free speech. (And that is why I am using a pseudonym for this article.)

But surely the legendary Scorsese can, at this stage in his career, speak his mind.

And I'm afraid he has.

There is always, of course, the typical cast of anti-American shills in Hollywood: Madonna, who cannot string together a coherent sentence without sounding like an arrogant ignoramus; Sean Penn who appears so confused and disoriented that one feels either pity or a slight amusement; Susan Sarandon, the queen of political fiction, Dustin Hoffman, Danny Glover, Ed Harris, etc. I would expect nothing less from this crowd.

But not Martin Scorsese.

Unfortunately, I confused great talent with great intellect. Now, I can’t help from asking myself: What is the difference between Martin Scorsese and Martin Sheen?

Time and again, I have protected Scorsese's films from the leftists in my life who tried to savage his work. They called him everything -- from racist to homophobe to misogynist. I insisted that Scorsese was an honest messenger of both the beauty of humanity (The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun) and its ugliness (Taxi Driver and Mean Streets).

The Academy of Motion Arts and Pictures, the elite of the Hollywood industry, have nominated Scorsese's brilliant work no less than four times yet has never rewarded his superior films. I always considered this to be a compliment to him. It was a badge of honor, I thought, to be an outsider and a rebel in Hollywood -- and to make films that transcended the narrow insipid themes of the leftist elites of the film community's leftist elites.

The Hollywood "progressives" did not understand Scorsese’s work and we often heard how his films were "too violent" or "too dark." In other words, they were too much a reflection of reality – something the left, living in its pie-in-the-sky fantasy world, has always been uncomfortable with.

It seems that Scorsese just desperately wants to be part of the club, the cult -- which has never properly recognized his work as an artist. Predictions even have it that he is the leading contender to win best director at this year's Oscars (for the very inferior and confused Gangs of New York).

I can’t help from wondering: will Scorsese be winning this award on the merit of his clumsiest film, or will his upcoming achievement be based on a gang of despotic-thinking utopians who will be handing out a prize to a prodigal son who is finally applying for official membership in the Party? Is it possible that his statements on Iraq have less to do with the war and more to do with impressing those who will be judging him come Oscar night?


Norman Tines is the pen name of a screenwriter.


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