Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where Are The Anti-Communist Movies?

David Boaz asks this over at TCSDaily. He makes the point that we're still kicking Nazis in the movies, and British colonialism gets kicked from both the left and the right, but there has been precious little on the 1-200,000,000 killed in the 20th C under communism. There are a few movies, which he notes, but not many. Out of that many deaths and that interesting a bunch of maniacal dictators, there must be another story or two, eh?

The obvious conclusion Boaz wants us to draw is that Hollywood, and the arts crowd in general, underplay how miserably evil communism was, because they are a left-leaning group. (He fails to mention all those comedies about lovable and wacky Russians that populated the screens from 1960-1990. They also had their effect.)

That's a reasonable point, but it is part of a larger, more reasonable point: no one anywhere does historical movies unless they have a modern lesson in mind. It is rather like the Robert Fulghum post below. When you use an historical subject, you get to subtly say Do we have to keep learning this lesson over and over, people? This isn't new; it's a lesson you should know by now. It's an equal opportunity condescension, as we have all see it used to make a variety of religious or anti-religious, American or anti-American, moral or amoral points.

It's a lot more artistic than Fulghum is, though.


Ben Wyman said...

Anti-Communist movies don't fly in Hollywood. What does fly is stories about people who were accused of being Communists, but actually were not. There are countless examples of this. Every TV show for the next twenty years did a version or two: I just saw the take that "M*A*S*H" did a few nights ago on late-night TV. I myself own Guilty By Suspicion and The Majestic, two of many movies about screenwriters getting the shaft during the hunt for Reds among Americans.

Hollywood just isn't going to go against the grain and make a lot of movies about how Communism was bad and a scourge. Then it might make it look like the people investigating Communism in America might have just had a point somewhere, when everyone knows that these people were the real enemy.

Though, to play Devil's Advocate, how can you not mention Rocky IV? One of the most important anti-Communism movies of all time. "If I can change, you can change, everyone can change."

bs king said...

I'm this an underplaying thing or a wuss thing? Communism ended a lot more recently than the third reich, and movie makers like to be able to take lots of liberties (i.e. they don't like to have people argue with them on silly facts) to provide the entertainment punch. I mean, really, you go the extra mile in depicting the Nazis as evil, stretch the truth a bit, and who's going to take issue with it? It's a regime that fell completely, and has no defenders left. Communism however, is still alive and kicking in a lot of spots, and is a fresh wound for a lot of people. I mean, what movie maker doesn't want to go for the easier punch? Nazis are bad! (cheers from the crowd) Africa's a mess! (cheers and general humanitarian feel good fuzzies) Communism was bad! (a general mood of is Russia doing now, and isn't China still communist???) It's a tougher sell. Plus if people really are doing historical movies with modern lessons in mind, they don't want complicated historical issues...they want straightforward vehicles that carry their point without getting muddied down.

To add to Ben's Rocky point though, where were the James Bond references??? He's been fighting the Commies for decades.

Anyway, back to a serious point, Nazi movies always reminded me of the phenomena in health care of the mean non insured patient with no family getting stuck out in the waiting room or getting inferior care because we all know there's not any ramifications to treating them that way...not for our conscience (well, he's mean) not for our job (no insurance, no family, no connections). People do it because it's easy and they can. After reading this article, I would compare Communism movies to that nasty patient that you realize somewhere along the line just might be related to someone.

Actually, I'm pretty sure after looking back over what I just wrote that it's possible that all of that is only a small factor. The real root might be that the story of communism is one of good intentions gone horribly, horribly awry...and that's one story that it does make sense that many of your current Hollywood actors-turned-activists would avoid like the plague. But they meant so weeeeeeeeeeeell.

Purple Avenger said...

That's cuz commies are still "cool"...Che T-shirts and whatnot.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Actually, the Rocky and James Bond references do point to something interesting. Action movies, that lots of people see but don't get nominated for anything, often villains or opposing forces which are barely-disguised Commies. Interesting, though, the story is about us, with them filling in the slot as bad guy. It's still not a movie about any of them or struggles they're having over there.

Yeltsin vs. Gorbachev in the collapse of the USSR is a fascinating story that's not going to be made into a movie.

terri said...

Perhaps, there are still too many communistic countries for Hollywood to feel comfortable making the anti-commie movie. China, Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc. are all alive and well...and still pretty scary.

Plus, those who are most "anti-communism" also tend to have more conservative viewpoints with which Hollywood chooses not to associate. Heaven forbid they agree with the "opposition."

What's interesting is that Big Brother themes always are used in movies and popular culture, but the concept of the all-powerful state is based on the atrocities of communism. However, they are usually used to blast social conservatives, those who are furthest from the communist ideal.