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Charles Krauthammer: Film Critic

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Charles Krauthammer needs to get out more, and the Washington Post needs to look into someone else to review its films. Months after the release of the film, Krauthammer decided the occasion of tonight’s Academy Awards was the time to ‘review’ Syrianna, calling the film an example of Hollywood’s ‘self-flagellation and self-loathing’.

After offering his keen insight about the film’s script, Krauthammer moves to two specific objections: that the film’s criticism of American realist foreign policy isn’t accurate, and that it somehow glorifies suicide bombers.

On the first issue, Krauthammer writes:

What is grotesque about this moment of plot clarity is that the overwhelmingly obvious critique of actual U.S. policy in the real Middle East today concerns America’s excess of Wilsonian idealism in trying to find and promote — against a tide of tyranny, intolerance and fanaticism…

That’s a fascinating interpretation of what the United States is doing. I don’t think anyone could possibly even imagine that the Bush Administration’s Neocon foreign policy establishment is overwhelmingly concerned with democracy in the Middle East. It’s a convenient excuse, but our adventures in the Middle East are about power projection, nothing more. If democracy were truly the goal, perhaps the United States would have given enough support to Hamid Karzai to create something more than the Democratic Republic of Kabul.

With regard to the claim that the film promoted suicide bombers, I’m left to wonder if Krauthammer made it through the entire film.  He writes,

It gets worse. The most pernicious element in the movie is the character at the moral heart of the film: the beautiful, modest, caring, generous Pakistani who becomes a beautiful, modest, caring, generous . . . suicide bomber.

It’s absurd on its face to assume that the film is suggesting that the action taken by this young man was the right one, or that the imagery used in the end of the film is designed to depict him as a martyr. Instead, the film thoughtfully examines how someone might find himself feeling that they had no other options, and how skillfully religious zealots can manipulate that feeling.

I would have guessed Charles would have loved that part.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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