Hollywood went to war against its own country during the Bush years.
No matter where one stood on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s clear filmmakers did all they could to critique American foreign policy while U.S. troops were in harm’s way.
Some films detailed the horrors of losing loved ones in country, like John Cusack’s “Grace Is Gone.” Others depicted U.S. soldiers as rapists (Director Brian de Palma’s “Redacted”). “In the Valley of Elah” highlighted troops abusing Iraqi prisoners.
“Rendition” showcased enhanced interrogation techniques in a brutal light, while the star-studded “Lions for Lambs” attempted to show the folly of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan through a trio of interrelated stories.
“Lambs'” title seems prescient today.
Few can soberly defend President Joe Biden’s exit strategy from Afghanistan. Even far-left news outlets can’t avoid the fallout from the abrupt withdrawal. There’s only so much spinning CNN can try with the cold realities facing Afghanistan and its people.
So one would expect a new wave of anti-war movies, but this time focusing on 20 wasted years in the Middle East and a disastrous troupe drawdown.
Except we won’t likely see it for a few years, if at all.
For starters, the aforementioned films all flopped, some magnificently so, at the box office. It took a crush of failures before Hollywood realized audiences had little appetite for these films, particularly when many movie goers had loved ones serving overseas at the moment.
Hollywood finally got the message, swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction. Films like “Lone Survivor” and “American Sniper” proved box office powerhouses just a few years later.
That isn’t the only factor.
What’s happening today is on Biden’s watch, and his serial missteps can’t be blamed on anyone but him. Would Hollywood truly rush to tell these stories over the next three-plus years? It’s the same reason Hollywood won’t revisit Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s precipitous fall on any screen, anytime soon.
It’s all politics.
And yet imagine the stories to be told about the current Afghanistan crisis.
- Families desperate to flee the country before the Taliban’s grip becomes too tight to escape
- The bonds between U.S. military members and local Afghans, now severed, as both parties rush to escape the Taliban’s wrath
- That single, desperate scene of Afghan citizens clinging to a U.S. transport, knowing it’s not worth living if they can’t hold on to the vehicle
That’s just a sample of powerful tales to be told by our most talented storytellers. They can be shared directly without any overt political messaging. Or, directors can connect the dots and show what happens when U.S. forces fail to keep their word.
The real-world consequences will be dire, and we’re only seeing the first draft of those stories now.
Surely a film project based on current events would serve as an effective anti-war platform, no matter who audiences members voted for in last year’s presidential election.