John Leo

David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for War of the Worlds, says the Martian attackers in the film represent the American military, while the Americans being slaughtered at random represent Iraqi civilians. I see it differently. I think the Martians symbolize normal Americans, while those being attacked are the numbskulls who run Hollywood. Perhaps the normals went a bit too far in this easy-to-understand allegory, but think of the provocation.

Among other things, Koepp made the “there-is-no-Internet” mistake, carefully masking his analysis in U.S. interviews, but saying it flat-out in Rue Morgue, an obscure Canadian horror magazine, that he apparently thought nobody would notice. But as the movie makes clear, once the normals begin to track you with their newfangled technology, there is no escape. They can find you even in Canada.

Hollywood has grown eye-poppingly angry with the rest of the country, mostly over Bush and Iraq, but partly, at least, because the left coasters apparently thought they were somehow entitled to a string of Democratic presidents after Clinton. The upshot is that even mild-mannered nonpropagandists like George Lucas have come under pressure to display their lefty credentials with silly political touches. The first three, brilliant Star Wars had no such touches, but the last three, nonbrilliant ones surely do. In the last of the epics, two anti-Bush lines showed up, “Only a Sith [a dark lord] thinks in absolutes” and “If you’re not with me, you are my enemy.” Lucas said the “enemy” sentence had been written before Bush’s similar words after 9/11. Maybe so, but Lucas had three years or so to figure out the political impact of the line but left it in anyway. Last May, at the Cannes film festival, natural breeding ground for excitedly anti-American prose, Lucas apparently said that his final Star Wars movie, featuring the rise of Darth Vader and the sinister empire, is a wake-up call to Americans about the erosion of freedoms under President Bush. (I say “apparently” because Cannes news reports, appearing only in various Canadian papers, had no direct quotes about a wake-up call, only paraphrases.) Paul Jackson of the Calgary Sun wrote: “Now [Lucas] says the Star War movies a political message: Fight to free Americans from the ever more frightening dictatorial tyranny of the Bush administration.”

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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