Tinseltown pictures are not what they used to be. Scripts nowadays are suffused with politically correct clichés. Activism has replaced acting. Good stories have been supplanted by sermons. Instead of a good yarn, expect a big yawn.
I'm no fan of Hollywood, but I am a fan of the truth. Truth, observed one wag, "is the foe of tyrants, and the friend of man." Truth be told, conservative commentators have been less than honest about the film "Redacted."
Director Brian De Palma's fare doesn't deserve to be lumped with the Ang Lee or Clooney two-hour long lectures; "Dressed to Kill" and "Scarface" were fabulous films. The same cannot be said for the boredom of buggery that was "Brokeback Mountain," and the "Syriana" snooze.
Still, the likes of Laura Ingraham and James Hirsen railed against "Redacted," calling it "fictional"—a figment of De Palma's warped imagination, intended to symbolize the metaphoric rape of Iraq by the US. The film, the two raged, portrayed an "unreality" and was positively libelous.
Michael Medved went barking mad: "The…worst, most disgusting, most hateful, most incompetent, most revolting, most loathsome, most reprehensible cinematic work I have ever encountered. ...It portrays the members of our Marine Corps in the most disgusting way imaginable. ...This film is an atrocity."
How dare De Palma and his financier, Mark Cuban—the maverick, libertarian mogul—"put a movie out that shows US troops … raping and killing a 14-year-old, burning her and her family," Bill O'Reilly fumed.
There's one pesky problem with all the indignant huffing and puffing: "Redacted" is based on a true story. It's a docudrama. Moral grandstanding notwithstanding, our mighty mediacrats have failed to mention that minor detail.
De Palma has, at least, bothered to commemorate the vanquished young victim at the center of "Redacted." To Rupert Murdoch's protégés in Mainstream Media, Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi is redundant, a castaway. The same broadcasters who won't quit braying when an American youngster is harmed pan De Palma for widening his lens to include an Iraqi girl's ghastly demise at the hands of American soldiers.
When MSM have mentioned Abeer, unburdened by facts, they've described her as a woman, rather than as the 14-year-old girl she was when the American servicemen murdered her parents and 5-year-old sister, and took turns with her.
For different reasons, likely, the liberal wing of MSM has been as indifferent. Should an American girl choke on a large potato chip, trust Anderson Cooper—Dr. Sanjay Gupta in tow—to profile the porker and demand potato-chip regulation. Why didn't Cooper mince on down to Mahmoudiyah to find out who this Iraqi girl was, and what her life was like before and after the Americans came?
In all likelihood, CNN and MSNBC are just too busy inundating their viewers with breaking news about the imperiled planet, pets, and other pestilence—flu, food poisoning, and the nation's ballooning bigotry and bodyweight.
So who was Abeer Qasim Hamza? A mop of hair, a delicate face and big black eyes: The only image we have of her is the one plastered on her Iraqi ID card. It was taken when she was a two-year-old tot. She lived with her mother, father and three siblings in the village of Yusufiyah near Mahmoudiyah.
Unfortunately for them, their farmhouse was situated near an American traffic checkpoint. The neighbors later said soldiers would watch the girl go about her chores, and gesture lewdly. The culprits, led by ringleader Pfc. Steven Dale Green—a school drop-out with a police record; recruitment standards are being lowered to fill quotas—would stage mock raids on the family's home during which Green fondled Abeer.
Finally, Green, accompanied by Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Spc. James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, hatched a scheme to rape Abeer. In they went, shooting and killing Abeer's parents and sibling, and then gang-raping her. When they were through with Abeer, they summarily executed her with a shot to the head.
A correspondent for the "Guardian" described walls and ceilings covered with soot and splattered with blood. A neighbor who had rushed to the scene said, "The poor girl, she was so beautiful; she lay there, one leg was stretched and the other was bended and her dress was lifted to her neck."
In "Redacted," Salon.com's Stephanie Zacharek finds significance, if not solace: "'Redacted' isn't great De Palma—it may not even be good De Palma—but it's pure De Palma."
It's also true De Palma.
So, stop the spin. Let Abeer rest in peace.
©2007 By Ilana Mercer