Kathryn Bigelow is an exceptionally talented director and, until she finally won the Best Director Oscar a couple of years ago (and became the first woman to do so), her obvious talents had gone unappreciated for almost two decades. The shame of this is, now that she has the power she deserves -- the muscle to pick and choose her own projects and do them in her own way (something she did even before winning an Oscar) -- everything we're learning about her next project almost perfectly describes an artist selling her artistic soul to The State, which is now represented by Barack Obama.
Bigelow's follow-up to the Oscar-winning "Hurt Locker" would've been an opportunity to enjoy enormous discretion when it came to artistic freedom (every filmmaker's dream), but what she's apparently chosen to do instead is the bidding of our government. Everything we learn about her upcoming bin Laden film screams propaganda, from the original release date, which, quite incredibly, was timed to hit screens just a few weeks prior to the election (after an uproar it has since been bumped to December) to the Maureen Dowd column, to the documents Judicial Watch obtained and released just this week.
Rep. Peter King has already laid out the troubling national security issues involved here, but what I also find appalling is Bigelow's apparent willingness to be led by the artistic nose by the government.
The email went on to say: “For the intelligence case, they are basically using the WH-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.” The talking points called the raid “a ‘Gutsy Decision’ by the POTUS,” adding that “WH involvement was critical.” …
Let me repeat: "they are basically using the WH-approved talking points"
A July 13, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations, indicates that Sarah Zukowski, an associate for The Glover Park Group, arranged the July 14, 2011 visit by Bigelow and Boal to the DOD and the CIA. The Glover Park Group is described by Politico as a “Democratic-leaning advocacy firm.” …
A June 22, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations notes, “The White House does want to engage with Mark but it probably won’t be for a few more weeks. We should provide them a read-out of the session you do with Vickers.” The name of the White House official who forwarded the request is blacked out.
Throughout the entire Bush administration, even as Hollywood was producing over a dozen box-office bombs to aid and abet and encourage al Queda, all we heard were a bunch of Tinseltown crybabies crybabying over some phony "chill wind" restricting Hollywood's creative freedoms when it came to protesting the war. Obviously, this laughable chill wind was fabricated in order to make the most pampered, spoiled, and free population in the history of civilization feel brave and oppressed -- because nothing's braver than undermining the men and women fighting at that very moment for your freedoms from an oppressive air-conditioned trailer -- but the overall point was that Hollywood was not going to do the government's bidding.
But what we're learning now is that this was never a principled stand. Hollywood refusing to do the government's bidding and to question and protest and Speak! Truth! To! Power! comes with a big fat asterisk. Because, according to Maureen Dowd, the bin Laden film's original release date, and the Judicial Watch documents -- what we have now is a talented, powerful and celebrated filmmaker engaging in pro-government propaganda that is fully backed by a big studio.
We shouldn’t be surprised though. Over the past year, we've learned that the industry as a whole has sold its artistic soul to the government -- the communist Chinese government.
“U.S. producers are taking an ultra-conservative route, and self-censorship is happening at a very early stage. In concept development there’s already an understanding of what will fly in China, and that gets concentrated by the time it gets to a screenplay.”
And what flies in China today isn’t very much.
Beijing’s thumbscrew restrictions include: No sex, religion, time travel, the occult, or “anything that could threaten public morality or portray criminal behavior.”
All film scripts have to be signed off by a government censor, and anything that depicts Tibet, Tiananmen Square, the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, Uyghur separatists, or Taiwan favorably is typically banned.
For Hollywood, however, the proof is still in the numbers. Turnstile revenues in China skyrocketed by 64 percent to $1.5 billion, and have surged nearly tenfold since 2003.
Starting with her stunning 1987 debut, "Near Dark," for two decades Bigelow was a true iconoclast -- a woman director making some of the most masculine action films of her time and making them in her own way.
Finally, it all comes together for her with "The Hurt Locker," and … she joins the club.
Maybe she hasn't seen "The Lives of Others." Maybe someone needs to sit her down and explain that as of right now she's the pre-arc playwright shilling for the State in exchange for access, riches, adoration, and acclaim. The only thing worse than those who use others are those willing to be used.
This bin Laden film needs to scrapped. It is now tainted in every imaginable way -- artistically and as it relates to our national security. And if it's not scrapped, we can only hope that the blowback forever taints those involved.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC