I read Nick's latest
on Sunday, and I really hoped someone else would have a shot.
In Die Hard 4.0, a cyber-terrorist paralyses the eastern seaboard of the United States. The lights go out all over New York, roads are gridlocked and airports closed, and a panicking citizenry hears rumours of anthrax attacks.
If this sounds a touch familiar, the writers and director are careful to emphasise that resemblances to 9/11 only go so far. The criminal mastermind isn't an Islamist, but Thomas Gabriel, a deranged computer genius. When the US government refuses to fund his research, he cries 'one day you will be sorry you spurned me', or words to that effect. Gabriel doesn't have a political motive for throwing the nation into chaos.
Indeed, this plot does sound familiar. It sounds like this:
A gang led by the German terrorist Hans Gruber invades and secures the building, under the pretense of wishing to secure the release of various terrorist operatives. The party-goers are subdued and it is revealed that the group are really thieves who plan to steal millions of dollars in bearer bonds from the building's security vault.
Imagine the cheek of it! They stole the plot of a movie where the baddie acts like a terrorist, but he's really just a thief! I think the makers of the original
should sue. In that film and the second sequel, the baddies were played by Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons respectively. In Live Free or Die Hard
the baddie is Timothy Olyphant
- yet more evidence of Hollywood's sickening bias against white Americans. Everyone knows that all the real bad guys went to RADA, yet this movie shows an American as a villain. Will they stop at nothing to distort the truth?
Nick is of course quite right to point out Hollywood's bias in favour of our friends who wear towels on their heads. Who can forget the deluge of movies about the IRA, ETA, whatever Timothy McVeigh's lot were called, Latin American death squads, Baader-Meinhof, and so on and so forth. The United States was involved in fighting in Vietnam
between 1959 and 1975 and what did liberal Hollywood give us? M*A*S*H
. (Oh, and The Green Berets
, but there was a notable shortage of contemporaneous films - and MASH was supposed to be about Korea.)
The global mayhem since 9/11 has not affected film in America, nor television in Britain, to anything like the degree a reasonably well-informed media buff would have predicted on the day.
Indeed, since 2001, contemporary politics has dropped out of Hollywood. Once saluted for its documentary-like coverage of say grassroots revolutionaries
, Los Angeles based film-makers have now shrunk from the real world to one of total fantasy. Even British hero James Bond in the 2006 Casino Royale
faces terrorists who look nothing like Osama bin Laden. What a far cry from the original book which was almost a trainspotter's guide to the modi operandi of the KGB. And regardless of the politics of the star, the Die Hard movies are liberal in intent: McClane is pretty much an anti-James Bond character, blue-collar, not part of the state machinery; the only person who believes him in the first film. is a black uniformed policeman, all his superiors take Alan Rickman at his word. Bond is about class and education getting you through; the Die Hards are about the integrity of the absence of both.
I was both a lefty and the 80s and the kind of saddo who stays for the credits of films. In No Way Out
the two heavies who chase Kevin Costner are listed as "Contra #1" and "Contra #2". (See, more left-wing bias: why couldn't they have been left-wing crazies? Because, perhaps, there wouldn't be any of those in the Pentagon at the time?) And that's pretty much it for filmic reaction to internal conflict.
In Back to the Future, Executive Decision, True Lies and dozens of others, Arabs were off-the-peg bad guys. Yet after 9/11, the stereotypes weren't fleshed out with an all-too-real psychopathic ideology, but abandoned.
Does he really mean that the minor roles in Back to the Future
given as "Libyan Terrorist" and "Libyan Van Driver" count as some kind political statement? Apart from the barrel-scraping, there's an assumption that the first real act of aggression against the US by Arabs or an Arabic nation was in 2001. Yet even an unreasonably ill-informed media buff could have named the Iran hostage crisis or the growing hostility of Libya at the time. (And were Libyans any more 'fleshed out' after Lockerbie?)
Meanwhile, the actor playing Guy of Gisborne in the BBC's reworking of Robin Hood for the 21st century explained that the old story was now about 'the perpetuation of terror' by the powerful. 'It's almost in the bad guys' interests to keep Robin alive - like the modern situation with terrorists. Guy and the Sheriff need him as a scapegoat, to keep fear in the hearts of the people'.
If Nick had read a certain novel
by a Tribune journalist who turned on the left, he might realise that the above is more or less a paraphrase of Emmanuel Goldstein
The BBC's logic [that the government was the real villain, hyping up the threat to justify placing the British under the iron heel of the national security state] is absurd when I write it out on paper but it makes psychological sense on the screen.
Well, that logic worked very well in an anti-Communist novel.
Sorry about the title, I'm uninspired today.