It seems Sylvester Stallone is fixing to grace the silver screen with another installment in his "Rambo" series. (Last time, you may recall, he helped the mujahideen kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan, apparently paving the way for the Taliban to seize power. Nice going, Sly.)
And with all the Islamic terrorism going on around the world, it's obvious who the bad guys are going to be. That's right: White supremacists.
Movie news site Coming Soon! reports:
According to Stallone, the new plotline sees the character of Rambo as having "assimilated into the tapestry of America," living with his family in relative peace for the past fifteen years but still working for the military, when work pressures force him to move his family to the American outback. The Navajo-Indian former Green Beret and his family are then subject to an attack by white supremacists, and Rambo has to risk life and limb in rescuing his 10-year old daughter from being held hostage.Ah, yes, the big threat facing America today: kooky white-power militiamen. I remember when those guys were in the news, about ten years ago.
Actually, the current plot is quite different from what was originally envisaged. An early draft was called RAMBO IV: HOLY WAR. As British production company Alpha1Media, which drafted the original treatment, said in an October, 2004 press release:
The treatment sees the iconic super-soldier first played by actor Sylvester Stallone in 1982's "First Blood" return to the screen as the matured sage; he's married, with an adopted son, influenced by Islamic Sufism and now working as an environmentalist at the United Nations. When the UN Assembly is hijacked by sadistic Islamist terrorists, Rambo tries to take the terrorists down, knowing that his Afghani-adopted son, Tomask, is part of the terrorist mission.You can read the entire original treatment here (pdf format). Apparently, David Morrell, the author of First Blood (which inspired the first Rambo movie), loved it. But somewhere along the line, the story got changed from Islamic terrorists taking over the UN, to crazy militamen hiding out in the heartland. Hmm.
Presumably the filmmakers wanted to avoid the stereotype of the Muslim terrorist. But how can something be a stereotype if no one ever uses it? Die Hard (1988) kicked off the modern terrorist thriller genre almost two decades ago, pitting Bruce Willis against a sinister band of mostly European criminals. Few movies since then have featured Muslim terrorists as the heavies, either. (I'm not counting documentaries or comedies.)
True Lies (1994) featured Arab terrorists, but also conspicuously showcased an Arab good guy for balance. Executive Decision (1996) had a few men of Middle Eastern appearance hijack a plane. And, after the first attack on the World Trade Center, The Siege (1998) explored New York's response to a Muslim terrorist threat, taking pains to hammer home the "not all Arabs are terrorists" message.
So, that's three movies in 17 years. Notably, none were made after 9-11. This is a stereotype?
On the other hand, consider this list of movies about non-Muslim terrorists:
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard 2(1990)
Under Siege (1992)
Die Hard 3 (1995)
Under Siege 2 (1995)
The Rock (1996)
Air Force One (1997)
The Peacekeeper (1997)
Speed 2 (1997)
Collateral Damage (2002)
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Things may be starting to change, though, as the latest season of hit television show "24" featured Muslims involved in a terror plot. Predictably, CAIR was outraged. FOX ended up forcing series star Kiefer Sutherland to read the following CAIR-approved statement on the air during the show's February 7 episode:
Hi. My name is Kiefer Sutherland. And I play counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on Fox's 24. I would like to take a moment to talk to you about something that I think is very important. Now while terrorism is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism. So in watching 24, please, bear that in mind.Why does CAIR raise such a fuss when a television show dares to show Muslims as terrorists? No other group seems to mind when its members play the bad guys. Maybe it's because they can shrug it off as pure fiction. But for CAIR, it seems to hit a little too close to home.
If CAIR wants to stop Muslims from being stereotyped as terrorists, it shouldn't be worrying about American movies and television shows. It should be worrying about Muslim terrorists.
Despite casting Islamic terrorists as the villains, the earlier version of Rambo IV wasn't exactly shaping up to be a jingoistic Muslim-bashing extravaganza. From the original treatment:
The film will try to answer why, at the start of the 21st century, the USA's super-military machine has not prevented it from now feeling more vulnerable than ever to outside attack, and why its government's foreign policy history is condemned around the world. In particular, the movie will educate the audience about Islam, a faith shared by 1.5 billion people on earth, and will show the importance of inter-faith tolerance.Yeesh.
...The topic of Islamic terrorism vs American unilateralism fought at the seat of world government will be highly educational and topical: neither can emerge the victor.