Even though I deplore negative portrayals of American troops in the news media, this just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
American Pride Films Group (motto: "Portraying America positively... one movie at a time!") is a new movie studio that "takes pride in showcasing America's goodness via the medium of movies."
On its website, APFG explains its mission:
With the Production and Distribution of our films, APFG will accomplish:Movies, on one level or another, are art. Even in the realm of summer action blockbusters, there are inspired examples of the genre, and unspeakable disasters that feel like they came straight off the corporate assembly line.
Our First Goal
To send a message to our global audience that, America is a kind, generous land and that most Americans are good, decent, everyday folks.
Our Second Goal
To send a message to our American audience that, the American dream and way of life is still alive.
We have enemies, not because we are the worst, but perhaps, because we are the best!
Along the way, establish our company’s reputation for quality movies that are entertaining, wholesome and "truly" pro-American.
A company with a mission to make a certain kind of film is almost certain to crush the independent spirit that makes truly great films possible. It's kind of like trying to be cool if you make a conscious effort, the results feel forced and phony. The whole process has to flow naturally from a spark of inspiration, not a corporate mission statement.
America's film and television industry, despite the liberal leanings of much of Hollywood, makes an incredible contribution to the promotion American culture. Small TV's picking up satellite broadcasts of Baywatch reruns in Afghanistan, or pirated DVD's of School of Rock or The Incredibles on the streets of Bangkok, promote the American dream more effectively than any ham-handed attempt at "showcasing America's goodness" ever could.
Indeed, it's precisely because our movies are so clearly not propaganda, and not toeing any party line, that they are so popular and enticing. Even our war movies are more gripping when they are more honest: Movies like Three Kings or We Were Soldiers portray American troops as real people, not idealized heroes, making real -- and sometimes wrong -- decisions. Even Saving Private Ryan, often perceived as a love letter to America's WWII veterans, did not shy away from showing a U.S. infantryman shooting a German soldier trying to surrender.
Would American Pride Films Group have had the courage to leave that scene in? I doubt it. Certainly the clumsy writing on its website gives one little confidence that it will bring an artist's sensibility to its productions. Film is one area where a Kerry-esque flair for nuance is actually appropriate.
People can tell when they're being lied or condescended to. By dedicating itself to a two-dimensional, sanitized presentation of America, American Pride Films Group runs the risk of alienating the overseas audiences it wants to influence.