The Destoyer of all that's Good and Pure
I’m a conservative and a Christian, so I have been genetically engineered to hate Hollywood. And that’s okay, because they have never failed to let me down by always letting me down. It is a town and an industry that revels in the banal and elevates the gutter. So, on the rare occasion that I hear that there is a movie in the works about a person or a subject that I actually care about, I know better than to get my hopes up because, as a conservative and a Christian, I now that the subject or the person that I care about will be, at best rewritten to fit Hollywood’s versions of morality or, more likely, simply held up for derision. That is why I am biting my tongue and keeping my excitement at bay over the upcoming Captain America flick, The First Avenger. Because, I’ve seen what Hollywood can do to my boyhood heroes.
It’s no surprise to anyone that, along with academia, Hollywood is pretty much the fountainhead of homegrown anti-Americanism. This has been particularly true over the last decade as the Left Coast has produced movie after movie lambasting everything from George W. Bush, to the War on Terror, and virtually anything remotely related to Conservative values. And, sadly, the recent crop of comic book hero flicks has not been exempted from this combative attitude.
Superman, the most iconic of American heroes was recast in 2006 as a mopey, self doubting waif of a man in Superman Returns. Appropriately, J. Hoberman of The Village Voice called it "a summer blockbuster filled with mythology and sensitivity." No longer was he the Man of Steel. If anything, he was the Man of Taffeta. And, fitting with his new found inner child, and in order to not offend foreign markets, Superman’s motto of “truth, justice and the American way” morphed into “truth, justice, and all that stuff”. According to one of the writers of the movie, Dan Harris, using the original line “would taint the meaning of what he is saying." Only in Hollywood (and in the boardrooms of Al Jazeera) would “the American way” be considered a pollutant.
Then there was the 2009 reworking of GI Joe in The Rise of Cobra. This character began as a comic strip in 1942 and then, in 1964, was turned into an action figure by Hasbro, with the intent of creating a realistic portrayal of the US Soldier. In 1982, the line was re-launched with the tag line “A Real American Hero.” Over the years, figures of the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas McArthur, Jimmy Doolittle and George Washington have been released as G.I. Joe figures to celebrate “real American heroes.” So, what does Hollywood do with this illustrious and storied character? They turn GI Joe into an acronym for a Brussels-based organization called the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. The results more closely resembled a glorified United Nations peacekeeping force than an American soldier.
The conclusion that one would have to arrive at when looking at the approach to these two movies, and others, seems to be that the thing Hollywood fears most, is to be seen as being patriotic. In an attempt to maximize international box office, Hollywood has no qualms about downplaying or ridiculing anything uniquely American. Again, this is why I just can’t bring myself to get my hopes up about Captain America, excuse me, The First Avenger. He is just too American!
The story of Captain America is this: Steve Rogers, a son of immigrants, disturbed by the rise of the Third Reich, tries to enlist in the Army but is rejected due to his poor physical shape. Rather than giving up, he volunteers for an experimental serum that turns him into a superman, of sorts. Equipped with a uniform modeled on the American flag, a similarly decorated shield and a sidearm, Rogers is given the codename Captain America and becomes an army of one, fighting the forces of evil and standing as a symbol of all that is right about the United States.
So, what will Hollywood make of Steve Rogers? Not much, if the quotes from the director Joe Johnston are taken at face value.
He wants to serve his country, but he’s not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver…He’s just a good person. … this is not about America so much as it is about the spirit of doing the right thing…It’s an international cast and an international story. It’s about what makes America great and what make the rest of the world great too.
Hollywood, it seems, is intent on continuing its trend of de-Americanizing everything that it touches. And nowhere is it sadder than with these three characters. Superman, GI Joe, and Captain America were created to be uniquely American and to showcase American values. To generations of kids, boys in particular, these heroes were examples of bravery, courage and, above all, patriotism. The generation that is growing up now, with only these films to judge them by, will see these three as nothing more than blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers. For that, Hollywood should be ashamed, but shame is one attribute that no special effects expert can pull off.