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Hollywood: Comic book heroes count more than the U.S. military

By Daniel G. Jennings
web posted July 14, 2003

The reputation of comic book super heroes is more important to the Hollywood elite than the reputation of the real-life heroes in the US military.

This sorry state of affairs is exemplified by Avi Arad, the very rich owner of Marvel Studios which makes movies based on popular Marvel comic-book characters like the Hulk. Arad told a USA Today reporter that he ordered an early version of the script for last year's very successful Spiderman movie changed because Spiderman slit someone's throat. ("Marvel's Chief: a force outside, 'a kid inside'" by Scott Bowles, USA Today, Life Section, June 5, 2003) Arad said he took this action because he was afraid the spectacle of Spiderman killing someone on the big screen would ruin the comic book character's image.

While it's refreshing to see a Hollywood mogul forcing script writers to make his heroes act like real heroes (in an honorable way), it is sad that Arad doesn't give the real-life heroes in the US military the same respect he gives his comic book superstars.

Wolverine fights off government soldiers at the X-Men's school
Wolverine fights off government soldiers at the X-Men's school

Another of Arad's big budget productions is "X-2: X-Men United" which portrayed the US military as Nazi type thugs. In that movie, US soldiers terrorize a school full of unarmed children, in one scene shooting a boy with a dart gun, then haul the children off in helicopters (in a scene designed to look like a Vietnam War attack) to a secret base where they are thrown in a dungeon. The bad guy's leader is described as a military scientist, a colonel and a Vietnam veteran who performs cruel and inhumane experiments on innocent people including his son. The plot revolves around this individual's desire to stage a fake terrorist attack on the White House so he can receive presidential permission to carry out a policy of genocide.

There it is folks: Hollywood's set of values described in a nutshell. The good people who run our entertainment industry don't give a darn about America or its military. Yet they care about comic book super heroes.

What's even more disturbing is Avi Arad's background. He isn't some sniveling brat who grew up in an exclusive suburb and went to film school on daddy's money. No, Arad is an authentic American success story, an Israeli immigrant who put himself through college by driving a truck. Arad is also a veteran of the Israeli Army who was so badly wounded in the Six Day War that he spent months in a hospital recuperating.("Marvel's chief: a force outside, 'a kid inside,' USA Today, Life Section, June 5, 2003)

You would think that a man like Arad would see the X-Men United script for the abomination that it is and kill it. As an Israeli Jew, Arad is probably all too aware of the fact that he is only alive today because of the actions of the US military in World War II. Yet Arad goes right along with the Hollywood mentality.

If appeals to patriotism and common sense can't get through to rich Hollywood types, then perhaps this line of logic will. According to USA Today, X-Men United has grossed $262 million at the box office. Last year's Spiderman which glorified old fashioned heroics grossed a little over $400 million.

Perhaps, the sick plot line of X-Men United (which was ignored by the media and film critics) is responsible for this difference in the gross. Hopefully, Mr. Arad and his cohorts will dwell on this fact because money is all they seem to care about.

I have nothing against comic books. I'm a major comic book fan from way back. I wish that the producers and writers of things like X-Men United would act like the classic comic book writers of the 1960s and 70s by using their imagination to come up with entertaining and exciting stories that don't involve nutty conspiracy theories and trash America. I also wish that they would demonstrate respect for the intelligence and values of average Americans. Perhaps then average Americans would learn to respect Hollywood and the people who run it again.

Daniel G. Jennings is a freelance writer and journalist who lives and works in Denver, CO. He has worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in five states.

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