Mark Tapson

While writing the screenplay for the movie Superman Returns several years ago, the screenwriters and director deliberately changed Superman’s classic credo – “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” – to “truth, justice, and all that stuff,” because they felt the phrase “American Way” has become loaded and outdated. The film grossed $391 million worldwide, spreading the message that Hollywood filmmakers, and presumably Americans in general, can’t even bring themselves to say “the American Way” with an unconflicted sense of pride that would have been taken for granted decades ago.

Every time Hollywood sends out such weak, apologetic cultural signals or makes such anti-American propaganda as George Clooney’s Syriana, which has been used as a recruitment tool to radicalize young Muslims; or Leonardo DiCaprio’s spy thriller Body of Lies, which puts our CIA on the same low moral footing as terrorists; or Matt Damon’s political action thriller The Green Zone, which revisits the tired leftist fantasy that America went to war in Iraq on the basis of a Bush lie; every time Hollywood produces such ideologically subversive fare, the message is reinforced here and abroad that we are the bad guys, and that our geopolitical meddling, not global jihad, is the genesis of Islamic terrorism.

Every time Hollywood rewrites history to suit its narrative of moral equivalence – as with the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven, which suggests that Christians are ruthless hypocrites, Muslims are religiously tolerant, and no one has a legitimate claim to Jerusalem – then Hollywood betrays historical truth, undercuts our moral standing and empowers our enemy.

Every time Hollywood dismisses the war on terror as “the politics of fear” and portrays Muslims as victims of our Islamophobia – as in an episode of The Simpsons, in which Midwestern oaf Homer falsely suspects a local Muslim couple of plotting to blow up a mall, or in the movie Flightplan, in which star Jodie Foster falsely accuses Arab airline passengers of kidnapping her daughter – the world takes note and Islamism advances.

And every time Hollywood churns out another anti-war movie that depicts our soldiers and their families struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, like Tobey McGuire’s Brothers, it confirms for the world what Usama bin Laden always says: The American soldier is a paper tiger. He is weak and fears death. We, on the other hand, love death more than life. We brought down one superpower – Russia – and we can bring down America.

Meanwhile the Islamists are feeding each other a steady diet of fist-pumping propaganda videos of infidels being beheaded, sniper attacks on soldiers in Iraq, paramilitary training, religious exhortations to kill Jews and Americans – and Hollywood depictions of American soldiers as raping, murdering occupiers.

Our conflict with fundamentalist Islam is the epic, defining challenge of our time. We’re at war with an enemy that, unlike us, has absolutely no crisis of confidence, no capacity for apology, and no anguished need to be liked by the rest of the world. Hollywood, post-9/11, too often undermines America in that fight at home and abroad, in ways both subtle and sweeping. It is broadcasting signals to a receptive world that we lack the cultural confidence, the moral authority, and the will to oppose evil – and that, like a dying animal, we are now easy prey for the jackals.


Mark Tapson

Mark Tapson is a screenwriter who writes about the intersection of Hollywood and terrorism.