Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

The Sum of All Fears et Charlie Hebdo

Jerry Stratton, January 15, 2015

I watched the movie version of The Sum of All Fears last night. Normally I’m resigned to Hollywood’s changing books to be more in line with Hollywood thinking, but coming so soon on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre I can’t help but think that this is part of why Hebdo happened.

Note that spoilers follow. The biggest spoiler? Hollywood is filled with cowards, and it is hurting us.

The short version: In Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, Islamic terrorists, angry that there is finally peace between Israel and Palestine, decide to detonate a stolen Israeli nuclear bomb in the United States, killing the President and Vice President as well as a whole bunch of other people, in order to trigger war between the United States and Russia.

In Hollywood’s The Sum of All Fears, it’s a secret cabal of right-wing internationalist neo-Nazis. The only Arabs involved are ones who don’t know what a nuclear missile looks like or why something dug up from the ground decades after it was buried might still be warm.

It isn’t just that they switched from non-PC Arabic villains to standard right-wing villains. Nor that their standard right-wing villains are oxymoronic right-wing socialists. The central idea of the book’s was that some Muslim extremists would be disappointed if the Israeli peace process succeeded, and that those terrorists would become even more violent.

It’s an important concern and one that applies to our search for peace today, in the real world.

To emphasize this, there was also a secondary plotter who was an East German angered over the downfall of East German socialism and the unification of East Germany into democratic West Germany.

The movie’s central idea, to the extent that it had one, was about villains who are unable to pull off any kind of terrorism despite Hollywood trying to show them how so often as the rehashed go-to villain since at least Boys from Brazil. We don’t have to worry about right-wing socialists, as by their nature right-wing socialists are too stupid to carry out the sort of finely-tuned conspiracy necessary for movie terrorism. Something Islamic terrorists have been doing for decades.

Watching it in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the sheer cowardice of that change is disappointing, to say the least. It isn’t just that succumbing to the demands of terrorism encourages terrorism, or even that they’re confusing socialism with the right-wing, but that excising real terrorism from our mass media conceals the reasons for terrorism in real life, and makes it more difficult to discuss what can be done to reduce or stop terrorism.

For all that it’s a popular thriller, Tom Clancy’s book asked some important questions about the Middle East peace process that were still relevant when the movie was made. The movie, on the other hand, not only reproduces the five-decades-gone National German Socialist Workers Party as its villain, but whitewashes its history.

The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war. — Benjamin Netanyahu (Knesset speech)

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