Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hollywood and simple patriotism

With the Oscars on the horizon, today's National Review has launched a series of columns about the movies nominated for Oscars and about movies in general. (You can see some of these articles here, here and here.) All of these entertaining, interesting articles make essentially the same point: modern Hollywood hates America; hates Capitalism (despite the fact that Hollywood is a bastion on money-driven enterprise); wants Americans to be informed about how awful we are to gays, minorities, women, misunderstood Muslim fanatics, etc.; and would dearly love to see evil America fail in its efforts abroad. In light of the steady flow of hate-filled pictures coming out of Hollywood nowadays, I keep thinking of the old Hollywood movies. Those who know me, know that Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel. I'm especially fond of old musicals and, of those musicals, I reserve my softest spot for the war musicals. What characterizes these movies, uniformly, regardless of studio, is the fact that they portray soldiers as decent human beings (not idiots and psychopaths), women as spunky help mates (not downtrodden victims of male oppression), and the war as an important effort to preserve invaluable freedoms (not as a grotesque American effort to impose its Imperial ideas on innocent victim nations). While the movies are filled with jokes about the discomfort of military service, and don't shy away from the fact that soldiers die, these are not presented as criticisms of the War, the government, or the military. Instead, these are common denominators that characterize all Americans, whether those who serve or those who stay behind, and references to them serve as bonds between free citizens in a nation at war. Hollywood also felt free to advance American political objectives. America was always worried about Latin America siding with the Nazis and creating a Southern Front against which America would have to defend. Thus, while Evita Peron become a darling of modern pop culture wailing "Don't Cry for me Argentina," during her political heyday, she and her husband were big Hitler fans and posed a serious security risk to America. (Shades of Hugo Chavez, except that he's crawling out from the Left, not the Right.) It was therefore extremely important that the U.S. maintain good relations with Latin America and, to this end, it took steps to reinforce the Good Neighbor Policy Roosevelt had started upon first taking office. Hollywood happily jumped onto this bandwagon, making sure that Latin American culture and (especially) music were featured prominently and positively in American films. (My favorite example of this genre is Disney's The Three Caballeros.) So, if you're in the mood for a little old-fashioned, unembarrassed patriotism, bolstered by some sparkling 40s music, why don't you check out some of my favorites: This is the Army (which prominently features Ronald Reagan and future Senator George Murphy) Two Girls and a Sailor Up in Arms Thank your Lucky Stars Hollywood Canteen (a bit heavy, but highlights Hollywood's commitment to the war effort) Stage Door Canteen (same, but this time showing the Broadway commitment to the war effort) For Me and My Gal (set in WWI, but obviously about WWII) Anchors Away (too maudlin even for me, but nevertheless quite good, and it also exemplifies the Good Neighbor angle) This is only a partial list, off the top of my head, but each movie is a reminder of a time when Hollywood moved with, not against, America; when the dominant paradigm was that America was a good guy; and when our major independent (that is, not government controlled) media outlet worked to help the American people cope with the burdens of war. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , ,