Wednesday, August 16, 2006

World Trade Center

Note: I originally posted this as a comment on The Art of Getting By, but I’ve edited it a little so that it stands on its own.

I don’t really have any strong feelings about Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. It’s just a movie – an artistic way of expressing an idea about a true event. But it’s not the event itself, and certainly any criticism or praise it gets should be about the movie on the screen, and not the reality around the theater.

I doubt I’ll see it. When I eventually see a movie about 9-11, I’m pretty sure it’ll be a documentary. A reenactment like this doesn’t interest me much.

One thing that might set me apart from the crowd: I don’t think the staff of the movie has any obligation, moral or otherwise, to donate part (or all!) of their paycheck to victim’s funds. They’re professional people. Like everyone I know, part of the reason they work is to get paid. And as professional people, they deserve to be paid.

Now, you may argue that some people in Hollywood get paid too much for the work they do. But it’s still work, and they’re getting paid what the market will bear. And I don’t see why Oliver Stone or Nicholas Cage should have to give up several months of pay, but the dolly grip or the best boy can pocket their earnings. And I certainly wouldn’t ask these crew members to give up the money they’re making to feed their families; I don’t think many people would. But both Cage and the grip are profiting; the only difference is degree.

Sure, it would be a nice gesture (and good PR) for Cage to make some donations or public appearances at survivors’ charities. And I think if the studio doesn’t devote some percentage of the profits to it, they’re fools. But if they make a film that people want to see, they certainly deserve to profit from their work.

What I think is necessary for their participation in the movie is that they believe in the project wholeheartedly. No matter where the money goes, what matters is what the movie says, and how firmly the people who made it believe it.



Janet said...

Who is this Janet person that has inspired you to write two posts in one week?:)

Rob S. said...

I know, it's crazy, innit? But I wrote out that long reply and thought "this is longer than most of my posts! Better bring it home, too."

That said, I'll be on vacation for a long weekend, so it looks like the streak is ending at two.

Jeri said...

I agree with you on everything here, Rob, except I'm not sure if how much the moviemakers believe in the film is a good measure of its worth. I'm sure the makers of Pearl Harbor thought they were providing a stirring tribute to the event. Sincerity does not equal quality. If it did, Bush would be a good Commander-in-Chief, because he believes he's bringing democracy to the Middle East.

For the most part, I fool myself into thinking I'm "over 9-11," probably because the Republicans have co-opted it as a weapon to use against their enemies, and because I don't like the way it's turned us back into a nation of fear and blind hatred. I'm just not willing to be afraid anymore.

But every once in awhile I put myself back in that moment when I saw the South Tower fall, live on TV. It feels like being stabbed in the face.

The nation as a whole acts like a trauma victim who refuses to seek counseling. I think we need to work through it and move on if we're ever going to heal, as individuals and as a nation. Maybe this movie will help us do that, if it just gets us talking about the event again in a non-political context.

Rob S. said...

Oh, belief in a movie doesn't mean it'll be good -- Ed Wood is proof enough of that. But lack of belief seems to me a fairly reliable indicator that a project--whether it be a book, movie, play, or comic--is doomed from the start.