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Why Hollywood's Cowardice Is So Destructive

December 24, 2014 in Blogs

By Andrew Lam, The Huffington Post

Art should be loud and challenging — not muffled and silenced.

Free speech in America may be a constitutional right but self-censorship is an American congenital habit. From government officials to corporation executives, from filmmakers to the media, it happens at great frequency and intervals.

Sony Pictures, threatened by North Korea, is currently in hot water for canceling “The Interview,” a comedy about an assassination plot against North Korea's leader, Kim Jung Un, but it is not the first film company to pull a flic out of fear. “The Quiet American,” a movie produced by Miramax, starring Brendan Fraser and Michael Caine, directed by Phillip Noyce, ended up on the shelf for a year and a half after 9/11 because of the public mood at the time.

Based on Graham Green's book of the same title, it's a movie that prophesied how America's naiveté would lead to misadventures and tragedy in Vietnam. “The Quiet American,” ironically, had the distinction of premiering in Vietnam, a country that routinely arrests bloggers, writers and journalists, long before it was shown in American theaters, and only then in limited theaters.

Government officials and world institutions are even worse when it comes to self-censorship. On Feb 5, 2003, before then Secretary of State, Colin Powell in his infamous WMD speech at the United Nations in New York, U.N. officials rushed tocover up the giant tapestry version of Pablo Picasso's anti-war mural “Guernica.” Powell held up a little vial and told the world that, had that vial really contained WMD, it could kill tens of thousands. He managed to convince the already paranoid public that US invasion Iraq is a must. A somber artwork showing men, women, children and animals killed and maimed by falling bombs therefore wouldn't exactly be appropriate as backdrop since it evoked the very vision of the horror that was to come.

On Feb. 12, 2003, a week later, a month before the US invasion of Iraq, a poetry reading scheduled at the Bush White House was canceled for fear that invited poets might read works by the likes of Walt Whitman, Emily …read more


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