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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No Wizard of Oz: Straw Men in United 93

There is very little more frustrating to me as a reader of blogs and news than the straw man, the phony opponent cooked up to provide a blogger or politician with a ready-made--if fictional--foil. The AP made quite a splash last month in outing President Bush for his use of the device.

I saw it yesterday, several times. Here's one example:
See this trailer. It is so powerful liberals are demanding it be withdrawn from theaters because of the shock value.
Here's a second, similar one:
There are a lot of people that say this movie should not be shown [. . .].
And three examples make a trend:
The Coward AntiAmerican left in this country, the Party of Russ Feingold doesn't want the people to see movies like this [. . .].
The movie, of course, is the upcoming release, United 93, about the fourth plane on September 11, 2001. From what I've read, it is apparently tastefully done; the writer-director had full support from the victims' families to make the film. I saw the trailer for it recently attached to the movie Inside Man. You can see the trailer for yourself at Apple's Quicktime depot.

What all three of these examples, gleaned from the shining halls of the right cheddarsphere, lack entirely is evidence that there really are "some" or "liberals" or identifiable members of the "coward anti-American left" demanding that the film not be released, or that the trailer be pulled for political reasons. Instead, the bloggers in question, in classic straw-man fashion, throw the false bad example out there to do battle against, leaving them the high road of moral outrage and righteous indignation. I mean, I certainly would understand their positions if the accusation were true, but it is not.

As far as I can tell, with my minor Googling prowess, the source for this idea that liberals don't want Americans to see United 93 is an incident in Manhattan (a place where they are understandably a might touchy about 9/11 issues). Here's a Newsweek piece:
If movie trailers are supposed to cause a reaction, the preview for "United 93" more than succeeds. Featuring no voice-over and no famous actors, it begins with images of a beautiful morning and passengers boarding an airplane. It takes you a minute to realize what the movie's even about. That's when a plane hits the World Trade Center. The effect is visceral. When the trailer played before "Inside Man" last week at the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, audience members began calling out, "Too soon!" In New York City, where 9/11 remains an open wound, the response was even more dramatic. The AMC Loews theater on Manhattan's Upper West Side took the rare step of pulling the trailer from its screens after several complaints. "One lady was crying," says one of the theater's managers, Kevin Adjodha. "She was saying we shouldn't have [played the trailer]. That this was wrong ... I don't think people are ready for this."
No protesting, America-hating liberals there. Even other actual news reports do not turn up mention of "liberals" or "the left" trying to block the film. It simply was patrons objecting to content--something that happens, I would imagine, everytime they release a new Saw movie, for example. The Newsweek column goes on to wonder if the national zietgiest is really ready for a 9/11 movie yet, and offers the proof-pudding non-answer that we'll find out when we see the box office.

Further Googling turned up a pretty-widely distributed column by a freelancer named Justin Darr:
No matter what the subject or the person involved, people who react this way are just trying to avoid the facts showing they made a mistake, and are now unwilling to admit it.

Well, sorry to tell you, but, if you have been fortunate enough to avoid dealing with people like this, your time in blissful paradise is over because the liberals are yet once again gearing up with another “How can you be so insensitive to tell the truth” campaign.
Darr also points fingers without so much as a single popcorn kernel of proof. In fact, when I challenged the bloggers quoted above to provide evidence, links, or anything, I mostly got bupkis. There was one "Then why did the people In NYC ask to have the trailer pulled?," as if that provides evidence of either a conspiracy to shut the film down or that liberals are behind it. The studio's statement makes it clear that the problem was images, not ideology:
Universal Pictures is standing by its trailer for United 93, Paul Greengrass's film about the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11 2001, despite viewer complaints that led to the trailer being pulled from one New York City cinema. "We expect that some moviegoers will have a strong response to its images and narrative," Universal Studios said in a statement, but said that it had no plans to pull the trailer or produce a substitute.
One of the challenged bloggers offered up "comments made on the official website of the movie." The site offers no statement on the incidents, such as the one quoted just above from the studio, but it does include free public message boards. A half hour of reading--and some time with the forum's search function--didn't turn up any evidence of actual liberals trying to shut down the film, although there were calls to boycott the film because liberal Hollywood was exploiting the victims.

It's all straw, all imagination; there is no man behind the curtain. The right's Liberal Derangement Syndrome is so strong, they have to blame us even when we do nothing--nothing at all on the scale of what the right can do when it wants to shut a movie down.

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