Friday, January 16, 2015

Hollywood Warnography by Cindy Sheehan

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Hollywood Warnography
Cindy Sheehan

Susan Sarandon and Cindy at protest in front of White House in 2006

With full disclosure, I have not seen director Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and furthermore, I have zero plans to do so. I have also never had bamboo shoots jammed into my fingernails, but I have a feeling that procedure would also be painful and vile.
The film is based on the sniper’s book of the same name. The sniper’s name was Chris Kyle and as most of us know, he was ironically murdered by a young vet on a gun range—something about those who “live by the sword” and such.
Besides Kyle’s apparent glee and pride in murdering people in his role in the illegal, unwarranted, inhumane, and bullshit war in Iraq, the only other thing I need to know about him is that he called the Iraqi people “savages.”
Even some members of the US “antiwar” movement seem to care more about the lives of The Troops™ than the innocents put in harm’s way by the policies of the US War Machine. The context of Kyle calling Iraqis “savages” is sadly already well established in the US, but is over-the-top thrilling to Reich-wing war lovers.
Of course, the term “savages” has been used throughout US history to kill, imprison, intern, nuking, or displace millions of people and Kyle lines up behind other war criminals that also delighted in murder. Centuries of dehumanizing the “other” has been deeply ingrained in all of us and it does takes a shoehorn, or murder of ones oldest son (for example), to pry us out of that stinking thinking.
Basically, those are my feelings about the film and the response for awards, accolades and defense of the war criminal Kyle. Along with another glorification of the War State (Zero Dark Thirty) winning best film title at the Oscars last year and Hollywood’s long history of working with the Pentagon (or War Department) to make decades of Warnography, I was reminded about an episode in my own history.
Soon after I camped out in Crawford in the summer of 2005 and became the latest cause célébre of the faux-gressive set, a film producer named Jill (I cannot remember her last name—lots of people gone under that bridge) approached me saying that she wanted to do a feature film about my story. Soon after, she lined up noted director Mimi Leder to direct the film and noted actress Susan Sarandon to star in the movie playing moi. Obviously, I thought this film was a done deal.
I had meetings with them, but by 2007, the film was dead in the water with really no explanation. I remember they kept asking me to sign over my rights to my memoir Peace Mom, and I would patiently explain to them that I did not own the rights that Simon and Schuster did. One day I got an email from an attorney saying that since I wouldn’t co-operate, the project was over. Interesting, that was after I left the Democratic Party and resigned as the face of the antiwar movement. Even though Jill and company kept dangling the promise of a film over my head for a couple of years, I got no compensation for that stall tactic.
Then shortly after the collapse of the first film, I was approached by Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner of Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B so they could option the rights to my story. Again, we had many meetings at their office, interviewed screenwriters, and I signed the uncompensated options, but after more delays I was told, “movies with an antiwar theme just don’t make any money.”
I don’t know in either case if the rights were optioned to prevent a movie about my story with an antiwar theme being made, but I do believe that it’s a sad commentary on our war-saturated and blood-soaked society that Warnography and glamorizing psychopaths and psychopathic behavior not only do big box office and win awards, but also define the very culture that spews it up.



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