A new film about the commando action could help President Obama in the election campaign. The Republicans are alarmed.
On Oct. 12, 2012, not even four weeks before the presidential election, an action film in U.S. movie theaters will celebrate the lethal commando attack of Navy SEALs on Osama bin Laden, head of al-Qaida.
The Republicans are alarmed. They see in the probable blockbuster a perfidious collaboration between Hollywood and the White House to polish up Barack Obama’s image and to increase his chance for re-election just in time before Nov. 6.
Hero Tale Put into Perspective
The film giant Sony Pictures wants to put the hero tale and the mission of the elite soldiers in Pakastani Abbottabad and the responsible Commander in Chief in Washington into perspective. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal should guarantee quality and full cash registers.
The duo was awarded six Oscars for the Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” they produced in 2008, among them the coveted award for best picture, best director and best screenplay.
Republican representative Lynn Jenkins wants to forbid the White House from supporting Hollywood in any form with a hasty law. “It is unconscionable that taxpayer dollars are being used to aid the Hollywood film industry in fact checking and script research,” stated the representative from Kansas to back up her Stop subsidizing Hollywood Act.
The Pentagon would also not be permitted to support the production of the film in any way, according to Jenkins.
Obtain Access to Secret CIA Material?
Previously the New York Times had reported that the administration granted the filmmakers access to secret materials about the strike against Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan, planned for months by the CIA.
The White House denies that. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the government accommodates any author of "articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president” to make sure that facts are correct. The filmmakers were not given classified information.
Meanwhile, close cooperation between the Obama administration and Mark Boal has been in evidence for weeks. The screenwriter was sighted in conversation with influential government officials, and to the apparent surprise of high-ranking military officers, was present at a CIA honoring of the victorious fighters from SEALs Team 4.
Sony Pictures Collected Election Campaign Donations for Barack Obama
That of all studios, Sony Pictures collected election campaign donations for Barack Obama increases the mistrust of the Republicans. The fundraising occurred in April, before the operation in Abbottabad, but no other Hollywood studio has become involved in this way in the preliminary stages of the upcoming election for the incumbent.
The title of the planned film is as unknown as the cast of actors. “Navy Seals Team 4” would be just as unoriginal as the engagement of Will Smith for the role of the president. Yet both are easily imaginable. Smith drummed up support for Obama in 2008 and proclaimed him to be “the perfect choice for America's future.”
In any case, the president will be staged heroically, in that he rejected the deployment of unmanned drones recommended by high ranking military officers, and together with his closest staff members, he followed via video broadcast the commando action for which he was responsible.
Relationship Between Hollywood and Washington
The heated discussion about the film project shifts the relationship between Hollywood and Washington into the spotlight. It experienced its closest moments during the term of office of former actor Ronald Reagan.
In over 50 movies, the Republican had not succeeded in getting far beyond the so-called “B movie genre.” As the president of SAG [the Screen Actors Guild], he found wide recognition among colleagues and the whole industry.
After his time as governor of California, Reagan brought the experience he acquired in Hollywood along to Washington. He professionalized the possibilities of self-portrayal at his inauguration in January 1981, and provided himself and his successors additional opportunities for appearance at the public honoring of deserving individuals.
Reagan turned the regular speeches about the state of the nation into a perfect staging with the prospect for headlines and, above all, flattering television images that bought him into the living rooms of the entire nation. Reagan, “the great communicator,” became one of the most successful presidents of the 20th century.
But the close friend of Hollywood legends like John Wayne and Robert Taylor also remained the eternal actor until the end of his second term in 1989.
Traditionally, a Closer Relationship with the Democratic Party
Traditionally, however, Hollywood actors, who often flirt with leftist positions, are often closer to the Democratic Party. When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought for the White House nomination in 2008, they collected a who’s who of the film world behind them.
Above all, Obama pulled screen celebrities to his side. Eddie Murphy, Robert DeNiro, Sidney Poitier, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Anniston, Halle Berry and Morgan Freeman, as well as countless up-and-coming stars and the influential talk show host Oprah Winfrey, promoted the senator from Illinois. Among others, Steven Spielberg supported Clinton.
John McCain, then the Republican candidate, was supported by Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris, but the support of a small circle of action heroes was to be expected, and they had visibly passed the zenith of their careers. Superstar George Clooney likewise belonged to the circle of Republicans. But he preferred to say that in the background and far away from cameras and microphones.
Hollywood Invented the Black President in the White House
Hollywood’s enthusiasm for Obama at that time may have been motivated by the fact that the California dream factory invented the black president in the White House — at a time when Obama was just nine years old. The first black in the Oval Office was named Douglas Dilman; he was played by James Earl Jones.
Because the screenwriters didn’t want the audiences of 1972 to put up with the then seemingly bizarre notion that a black man could be elected to the highest public office, the story of “The Man” had the president and the speaker of the House die together in a building collapse.
The vice president declined the office due to his health; so Dilman, as president pro tempore of the Senate, got the chance.
Morgan Freeman was Hollywood’s Black President
Hollywood’s second black president was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the 1998 science fiction thriller “Deep Impact.” It simply fit the concept of the genre that in an action film set in the future, a black president — he was named Tom Beck — could save the earth from the collision with a comet.
At the same time, the influence of film industry support on a candidate’s chances seems limited. Before the election in 2000, Democrat Al Gore was the Hollywood favorite. He collected roughly $880,000 from the studios. George W. Bush only came by $690,000 and was courted by considerably fewer screen stars. Yet the Republican from Texas won the race.
On the other hand, a real president has never before succeeded immediately before his possible re-election in becoming an important figure in a film that will presumably celebrate him and have the stuff to be a box office hit. The anxiety of the Republicans is therefore understandable. Hollywood could be Obama’s most important election helper.