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Mar 14, 2011

Spin City

From The Wrap:

"Hereafter," the Clint Eastwood film that dramatically recreates a tsunami, has been pulled from Japanese theaters after the earthquake and flooding in Japan, The Associated Press reports.

Warner Entertainment Japan Inc. official Satoru Otani said theaters would stop showing the film, which had been expected to air through the month, because the images were "not appropriate" after the disaster.

"Hereafter," which stars Matt Damon, opened in Japan last month in about 180 theaters, the AP said.

Before I say anything, I want to make it clear: it's not the act that I have a problem with, it's the spin.

This is bullshit. I don't mean that in the "I'm outraged and you should be, too!" context that you might glean; more like, "You know how you feel when you're being lied to by the government?"

Of course, the Japanese government is not to blame for this act of self-censorship - Warner Brothers is. And that's the main signpost that screams "B.S.!!!" I saw Hereafter, so I think I'm a pretty qualified subject matter expert on the relative impropriety of the tsunami depicted in the film. For starters, it lasts all of about five minutes and acts as a catalyst for one character's metamorphasis more than anything else. It's not the climax nor the focal point of the film, by any stretch of the imagination.

To be sure, the people of Japan (if they wanted to see Hereafter at all to begin with) are probably not in the mood to watch a tsunami of any stripe in their theaters right now. But that's the whole point, and what bothers me about this. There's nothing "inappropriate" about the tsunami - the film was made a year (or more) ago and has nothing at all to do with Japan. No, the film is guilty of bad timing and nothing more, and Warner's attempt to sell it as though they're doing an act of kindness by pulling the film is what bothers me. They don't give a shit about all that - they know that, above all, the people of Japan don't want to see a tsunami depicted right now, so they'll shelve the film until a later date...when they think they might be able to make more money off of it.

After all, I'm pretty sure murders happen in Japan, and they're not exactly pulling The Tourist due to it being 'inappropriate."


11 people have chosen wisely: on "Spin City"

Jack L said...

From what I've heard of the Tourist it sounds like it's inappropriate for any country at any time...
That film looks terrible.

And as for Hereafter, of course it's primarily about the money, it's hardly like any one is going to be offended by a tsunami depicted in the film, and if you are likely to be offended you can just not watch it, I mean there is a clear warning in the trailer.

Is the film any good?

Rachel said...

How are they gonna watch a film showing a brief tsunami without electricity?

Thaddeus said...

I would say that this is best reflected in the post-911 decision to actually edit the Twin Towers out of movies. That was also a case of self-censorship, and it was also terribly stupid.

The language used to describe WB's decision seems to be insulting, but their intention might actually be decent. I lost a relative in a plane crash, and the next day my law class was going to cover a plane crash. I sent the professor an email asking if we could avoid getting too much into the whole "absolutely terrified for their lives" part of the discussion. I also would've been happy to just skip class that day...

Sometimes you avoid a topic out of good taste; other times, you avoid a topic because you're terrified that a few people will have a strong but "inaccurate" reaction to what you've done. The former is about being considerate, the latter is about wanting to avoid any blowback, whether it's appropriate or apt or not.

Fletch said...

@ Jack - RE The Tourist - zing! I kinda left that one right out there in the open, didn't I?

Most that have seen Hereafter don't like it. I was in an odd place when I saw it - it's about death and the afterlife, and I had just suffered a major death in my family - so I'm not the best person to ask about that. It's an Eastwood film, so take that for what it's worth...seems like all of his recent works are flawed yet serious and well-crafted.

@ Rachel - Ouch. Too soon?

@ Thaddeus - I thought about the Twin Towers stuff, and while I agree that it was pretty stupid, I'm not sure it's totally analogous, since more than the issue of deaths and tragedy, the image of the Towers carried with it political implications that a tsunami just doesn't. So I at least understood that a bit more, even though I might not have agreed with it.

I'm not sure how decent their intentions are, but the end result is, so on the whole it's an alright thing to do. I just don't like how it comes off as being solely a noble act when surely it's about something else as well, if not altogether.

Rachel said...

Not really my intentions, but it was along the lines of who the hell is planning on seeing a movie at a time like this?

Stevee Taylor said...

When I first read about this I was a bit like 'WTF?!' I mean, it's okay that they feel like watching a movie with a tsunami may be a bit frightening for them, but it's their choice if they want to watch this movie. I mean for goodness sakes, how sensitive are these people? Sometimes I'm feel like everyone has become so sensitive. You must not even be able to say the word 'tsunami' around Japan now.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Bonjour! Fletch...
Great points, abound in your post about Warner Bros. and the "pulling" Of Eastwood's film "Hereafter" in the light Of this current tragedy that has occurred in Japan.
Merci, pour le partage!
DeeDee ;-D

Thaddeus said...

Stevee, Japan has a message for you: Don't call us "these people."

No seriously, it's far more likely that the studio chose to withdraw on their own, not from any actual request or protest. The sensitivity issue is on the supply side, not the demand side...

Of course, you could look at it with extra cynicism and say that the studio would anticipating that Clint's movie will perform very badly now. This would inspire them to pull the movie, with maybe a little concern over inspiring emotional distress in some viewers.

On the flipside, I was never interested in any of the 9/11 films. I even thought it was rather stupid to make one...

Castor said...

Well I think we are making a scandal out of nothing. Keep playing the movie or pull it out, both ways cynics will come out of the woods to criticize them ;)

Fletch said...

@ Rachel - Indeed - solid point.

@ Stevee - I couldn't agree more. Your wisdom belies your years.

@ DeeDee - de rien!

@ Thaddeus - Haha, I'll have a cheeseburger with extra cynicism, please. That's entirely possible. To go even further, you could say that a) they knew that the film would not perform well, so b) they saw an opening to get some solid PR in lieu of the bad PR that might've accompanied a flop.

Castor - Don't take this away from me, man! I will make a scandal out of any god damn thing I want!! ;) By the way, did you hear that they're recasting the role of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises?

HotNewDvds said...

mmmm...the tsunami in the film looked a lot different to the ones in japan that ive seen footage of!