I saw Stephen Spielberg's new movie, "War of the Worlds," at a press screening Monday night,and was disturbed by the message: Don't fight terror, and everything will work out. (Security was literally tighter than that for going to the White House to meet the President. No purses allowed. Three wandings by security.)
It's bad enough that Steven Spielberg is adding "balance" and factual inaccuracy to the story of the Israeli Mossad's efforts to assassinate terrorists who killed Israeli Olympic athletes -- in his upcoming film, "Vengeance" (I've detailed that here). It's bad enough that his message in "Vengeance" is that fighting terrorists and killing them is bad and doesn't work. But his similar message in "War of the Worlds" is arguably worse--because the movie, with fantastic special effects, is likely to be one of his bigger hits.
Spielberg said "War of the Worlds" is a parallel for 9/11 and serves as a "prism" through which to view 9/11, the War on Terror, and our presence in Iraq. The movie makes that very clear. People running from exploding and falling buildings, walls and kiosks covered with "missing" signs and pictures for those looking for lost relatives, people giving blood -- these are all 9/11 references.
But the message is: Don't fight terrorism. It will miraculously go away if you leave it alone and it breaths our air and culture. Puh-leeze. I'm sure Roger Ebert will just love it.
SPOILER ALERT: Not a big spoiler, but stop reading here, if you don't want to know about a part of the movie.
Soldiers, with their tanks, hummers, and assorted weapons are wasting their time fighting the alien terrorists. Their hummers come back empty and on fire.
For a significant part of the movie, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and his daughter are holed up in an old basement with Ogilvy (Tim Robbins). Robbins' character wants to fight the outer-space invaders or at least die trying. Ray doesn't want to. He just wants to be silent and wait it out. Because he and Ogilvy are at odds over the strategy to fight the alien terrorists, Ray murders Ogilvy. And magically, the invaders eventually die and go away at the end of the film because, as narrator Morgan Freeman says, they could not handle the bad things in our air, our environment, our culture. Our "spirit" won out over them.
But "spirit" alone does not beat terrorists. Fighting them does. And that involves going on the offense. Terrorists don't just give up and disappear. They are not aliens who can't handle our air. Hello? They live among us -- they're of the same species.
Screenwriter David Koepp says, "Certainly, there are a lot of political undertones and overtones. The political tones of this movie will emerge for themselves. In the '50s, 'War of the Worlds' was, 'My God, the commies are coming to get us.' Now it's about fear of terrorism. In other parts of the world, the new movie will be fear of American invasion. It will be clearly about the Iraq war for them," Koepp told the Chicago Sun-Times.
This outrageous statement is the Hollywood thinking. Yes, we evil Americans are like the murderous aliens in "War of the Worlds" to the people of Iraq. Forget about guys like Capt. Jon Powers, 27, who spent 420 days in Iraq, but instead of going home after he left the Army, is still there--on a mission to help the street children and orphans of Baghdad. In contrast, there are no kind aliens in Spielberg's "War of the Worlds."
Then, there is Tim Robbins. His character, Ogilvy, says occupations "never succeed ... . local insurgencies always bring you down." Gee there's no agenda there, right? Isn't this the same Tim Robbins, universal sensitive man and girlfriend to Susan Sarandon, who has tiraded against Bush and the War on Terror everywhere that will have him (excluding Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame, thankfully)? Why, yes, it is.
Robbins says the movie's message is "how any kind of terror can change a peace-loving person in an instant." So now we are "war-mongers" because we've chosen to fight terrorism, instead of giving in to it, like the lucky idiots, a la Tom Cruise, in this movie?
That's exactly what Spielberg, Robbins, and their "War of the Worlds" want you to think. Ignore terrorism. Don't fight it. Stop being so "militant," and it will go away.