American-Made Claptrap Butchers History and Entertainment at One Blow

Hollywood is right: we inhabit a sick nation. One irrefutable proof of this is the non-stop claptrap churned out by Hollywood.

I don’t write movie reviews—and I did not, in any case, make it halfway through this sixth-grade collision of a camera with a boilerplate script. One does find oneself, however, retreating to the Tube over holidays and other occasions that bring relatives together who’d rather not listen to each other talk any longer than necessary.

Not being a film critic (the last great war movie I saw may have been Breaker Morant), I admittedly have little to fall back on by way of reference and context. I’ll simply content myself with saying this much about American Made: it appears to me to extend upon an incomprehensible style than even I can identify as a template (thanks to earlier holidays and similarly forcible exposure to “what’s hot”). Why would you combine a comedy with an opus claiming to be about history? Or to put it another way, what would cause anyone to view history as a stock of cliché jokes hatched at the expense of clueless two-dimensional cartoon characters? Was The Honeymooners the story of D-Day? Was Barney Fife at Thermopylae?

This idiot flick purports to tell the truth of the Iran-Contra scandal through the eyes of a pilot who graduated from taking reconnaissance photos to smuggling drugs to smuggling arms to… well, as I confessed, I made my excuses and left the room about halfway through. The pilot very annoyingly projects an almost utter incompetency in world geography, basic English diction (I told you a band of sixth-graders produced the script), and “buenos dias” level Spanish… yet, curiously, he’s meant to be cool. I suppose the subtext is that only an imbecile (and all Southerners are imbeciles to Hollywood) would get into bed with the CIA, and that our foreign operations are all run exclusively by such imbeciles. Or not quite exclusively: the recruiter of imbeciles is himself something like a combination of Mafia thug, Machiavellian cynic, and Gestapo fanatic. And lest that description mislead anyone into suspecting depth of characterization… no: I’m trying to portray a train wreck of stereotypes, not a coherent human psyche.

The blonde wife was the one source of relief, being extraordinarily cute—but that remark, of course, is no longer permissible thanks to its noxious degree of “objectifying” (even though her object-value is the “actress’s” sole reason for being in the film, and even though, as noted, all parts are thoroughly stereotypical).

Somehow, in Hollywood, you can project all the moral trespasses you claim most to deplore—bigotry, sexism, greed, corruption, exploitation, hypocrisy, gross abuse of power—onto representatives of the political ideology you most despise… and emerge satisfied that you have recreated history. This is a game that I observed to be played last year during another holiday “bonding” ordeal whose first hour I failed to endure: an infantilized rendition of a gun-running scandal called War Dogs. Still waiting for Hollywood’s take on Operation Fast and Furious, which actually possessed many of the qualities found in the undertakings of Middle School drop-outs.

Is this kind of thing, I wonder, just the utopian-brat class’s cathartic urination on adult events too complex and uncooperative to leave its hallucinogenic worldview unembarrassed? I mean, does the general public really pay money to sit through such pseudo-artistic excrement? Even worse… do young people in the audience, perhaps, really believe that history is a cartoon produced by bungling villains with cliché-filled balloons trailing out of their mouths?

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