Monday, March 24, 2014
Over the years I have taken notice of how Hollywood and American and British television handle the problem of Islam—whether it figures centrally in a story line, or only peripherally.
I haven’t made a concerted study of it, though I did take the time and trouble to analyze at some length here on The Hesperado two important TV shows—the American spy thriller television series 24 (with a second essay on it later, also analyzing another show about terrorism, The Unit), and the British spy thriller television series MI-5 (also with a follow-up analysis two years later). I found both of those shows (as well as The Unit) seriously wanting and flawed in the way they handled the problem of Islamic terrorism—more often than not precisely because they weren’t even handling it at all (or worse yet, when they bothered to treat it directly, thus bungling and botching the crux, in the process purveying precisely the socially irresponsible opposite).
Along the way, as I have chosen a show or movie to watch for my recreational enjoyment, I have often noticed (to the annoying frustration of said enjoyment) even when the issue figures only tangentially, it is ineptly handled and marred by PC MC.
Case in point: a relatively marginal yet still mainstream spy thriller that came out in 2012 titled Erased (originally better titled The Expatriate), starring Aaron Eckhart as a CIA assassin whose cover as a security analyst in Cologne is erased by his superiors, who then proceed to hunt him down to kill him and his daughter (who only belatedly learns that her father is in fact an international spy) as the action takes them breathlessly beyond the Bourne of Germany to include Brussels and Antwerp. As father and daughter go into hiding on the run from the Evil White CIA (in collusion with some malignantly soulless billionaire industrialist with the conspicuously Anglo-Saxon name "James Halgate" (played with sinister unctuousness by Garrick Hagon) who is profiting unethically from weapons sales to Third World countries), the daughter tells her father that this boy she has been interested in from school, “Nabil”, a young very nice and polite Middle Eastern teenager (played by Yassine Fadel), can help them. A subplot unfolds where Nabil’s Middle Eastern family (obviously Muslims though never spelled out) figures out ways to hide father and daughter from the Evil White CIA. A film review website in adverting to the actor notes preposterously that "Yassine Fadel probably an Islamic Arabic defies the usual stereotyping in Hollywood movies". Huh? The portrayal of the character "Nabil" as acted by Fadel, as directed by Philipp Stölzl, and as scripted by writer Arash Amel (surprise, surprise, an Iranian) in fact follows the standard PC MC boilerplate of the usual Hollywood stereotyping in showing a Middle Eastern Muslim as being a nice good-natured innocent. In addition, innumerable subliminal details are telegraphed to the viewer throughout Erased indicating how Ordinary, Nice, Polite, and Innocently Hapless all the various Middle Easterners friends and Orientally extended family of "Nabil" are. That reviewer, Linus Tee of "MovieExclusive.com", thus exemplifies the typically delusional PC MC misapprehension of bigotry even where it does not exist, and even amid a sociocultural climate of overwhelming backbending respect for Muslims at every turn. I have yet to see a movie or a show where the villains are Muslims engaging in terrorism for Islamic reasons—except the aforementioned American TV blockbuster juggernaut, 24; however the minimal amount of realism it timidly ventured to portray in its first season was soon (and outrageously) undermined by subsequent episodes and seasons (see my essays on it, linked above). (The sole genuine exception to this pattern was the movie The Stone Merchant; though that was, not uncoincidentally, a straight-to-video movie very few souls saw.)
So, in Erased, instead of interweaving Muslims into the plot appropriately as at least part of the espionage problem depicted in the narrative, the scriptwriter and director choose to make the Muslims innocent, nice and helpful, while all the evil emanates from American government personnel and businessmen.
When movie after movie that is churned out of Hollywood telegraphs this type of subliminal message, unctuously massaging into the Body Politic a gently propagandistic reinforcement of the PC MC paradigm, it cannot but constitute a major dereliction of civic duty on the part of the filmmakers.
Erased, indeed: the problem of Muslims, metastasizing in our time as the number one social, political and geopolitical danger, continues to be whitewashed, if not whited out from our public conscious.