Paramount Capitalizes on Yet Another Tragedy - A Mighty Heart is a mighty disgraceAn open letter to Paramount Pictures:
Stop. Just stop doing this.
You've already turned a generation of moviegoers into tourists in tragedy by commercializing the collapse of the World Trade Center in the creatively named film World Trade Center. Now you're taking on another defining moment of our generation and cheapening it in A Mighty Heart - a film which should be about the life of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, or better yet the insanity of terrorism, but instead comes off as a cheap and tawdry exploitation of the people and events surrounding Pearl's death. (For those of you who aren't great with names or horrifying and therefore overexposed media moments, Pearl is the American journalist who was captured and decapitated on video by terrorists in Pakistan while following a lead on the "Shoe Bomber" story.)
This film should not have been released, for reasons too numerous to count here. Suffice to say that the only thing worse than capitalizing on a personal and political tragedy is doing so while paying more homage to the gods of investment returns than to the lives of the people you are utterly failing to represent on film. Terrorism works in large part because terrorists know that the popular media will descend upon a horrifying story with the viciousness of starving vultures fighting over the last piece of carrion, and thus their political agenda will be announced and advertised with as much vehemence as Paramount's marketing department can muster. Perhaps you could skip the middleman and just hire your marketing department out to the most fanatical bidder. This would achieve a similar result without exposing the public to another pretentious self-involved film that almost, but not quite, manages to somehow completely miss the point.
If you won't listen to us, then listen to former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani, who worked with Pearl and attempted to inject some dignity into this film.
"As much as the talking points say that this movie is for Danny and that everyone made the movie for the right reasons, I don't at all feel that it is for Danny or that noble intentions underly this movie. That's just my opinion, and I don't mean to offend you, but I've just heard that soundbite one too many times.
In your role as producer, you may think I'm full of B.S. in seeing a reality that isn't the one that you're portraying on the big screen. I am told there is hardly a person who thinks too highly of Hollywood's depiction of reality. But even knowing that intellectually, I cannot in good conscience enable an enterprise to me that represents to me little more than "astroturf reality."
Maybe I've read a little too much Joseph Campbell, but I think that our society has become quite sick in the way that we manufacture heroes out of tragedy -- Guliani, for example, being a hero when he was just doing his job as mayor -- and to me the industry that supports this mythmaking is not one in which I want to participate. To me, the participation of the media industry in creating myths out of reality is most distressing.
The truth is that I am sorry that I ever got involved in the movie making from the beginning. I was naive in putting trust in the process, and I shouldn't have been but my head was also spinning post-Karachi in trying to support Mariane as much as I could. To me, Danny had left her at my house, and I had a duty to him to take care of her.
I tried throughout the filmmaking to help because I hoped a greater good would come from this enterprise. In my heart, I don't think a greater good emerges, despite all of the allegiances with reporting organizations, etc., because at the end of the day this movie could never have happened without the tragic sacrifice of Danny's life, and my greatest sadness is that I don't think that the movie comes close to even capturing Danny's real life charisma and charm.
As the details of the movie have sunk into my conscience over the last couple of weeks, I realized that the film made me miss Danny even more as a friend, because he was so not present for me on the screen."
In summary, please stick to fairy tales. You are an entertainment company. Your job is to entertain, not to denigrate and misinform the masses. That's what we have Rush Limbaugh for.
Lazlo et al
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