Steven Spielberg's next movie tells the
touching story of two male Palestinian suicide
bombers who fall in love and engage in graphic
on-screen sex before detonating themselves at a
Natany shopping mall. Tentative title: Blowback
Mountain. I made that up, of course, but more
than happenstance links Ang Lee's gay cowboy film
Brokeback Mountain with Spielberg's
Munich, the subject of the cover story in
this week's Time magazine.
It isn't only
that gays have a thing for cowboys (remember the
Village People?), not to mention Arabs (wasn't
Lawrence of Arabia a gay flick?). The
American left sympathizes with
Palestinians for the same
reason that it sympathizes with homosexuals, and
the putatively oppressed of all hues and tongues.
Liberal Hollywood is the heart of
America's Democratic Party, and its offerings for
the Christmas season explain why the opposition to
the present administration remains weaker even
than the flailing White House. A red-state
cultural revolt won the last election for
President George W Bush (It's the culture,
stupid!, November 5, 2004), and
Hollywood presents a view of the world that
Americans find –well, revolting. This is not an
accident, but a nasty prank by the Zeitgeist.
With the coincident debut of the gay
cowboy film Brokeback Mountain (Homo on the
Range,  as the San Francisco newspapers wrote)
and the conspiratorial fantasy Syriana, it
has been a banner week for gays and the
Palestinians, at least in the American cinema.
Syriana depicts a conspiracy by the Central
Intelligence Agency and oil companies to subvert
an Arab kingdom, while Bareback Mountain
attempts to "queer" the traditional American
While these exercises in
cutting-edge culture struggle at the box office, a
film version of C S Lewis' Christian allegory
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had a
$70 million opening weekend.
Mountain" portends commercial disaster. In the
young-adult demographic group that sustains the
American cinema, on-screen anal sex draws limited
interest. Young men find it embarrassing to watch
a star like Jake Gyllenhaal in this context, while
young women find it disappointing. But no film of
the first decade of the 21st century will flop as
miserably as Spielberg's Munich, a "prayer
for peace" derived from the 1972 terrorist attacks
on Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games.
Spielberg's theme, as he explained in the Time
story, is the futility of the Israelis' subsequent
Futility makes poor theater.
If Spielberg had portrayed a moral equivalence
between the great white shark and its hunters,
Jaws would have bombed at the box office.
American audiences sat on the edge of their seats
waiting for Roy Scheider to wreak vengeance
against the toothsome monster. Indiana Jones'
enemies meet hideous deaths, to audience cheers.
The director who made his reputation pandering to
vengeful bloodlust now wants moviegoers to ponder
the moral equivalences in war. Vengeance makes for
good box office, as Aeschylus well knew. Moral
ambiguity just wins the Pulitzer Prize (or in the
case of Harold Pinter, the Nobel).
Speaking of the Pulitzer, noteworthy is
Spielberg's choice of the world's worst playwright
as screenwriter, namely Tony Kushner. Thanks to
HBO, Kushner's Pulitzer-winning magnum opus
Angels in America was played before the
world by the likes of Meryl Streep and Dustin
Hoffman. Kushner's "gay fantasia on political
themes" waves placards and shouts slogans with the
worst kind of agitprop didacticism. Kushner is not
only gay, but also a Marxist. Of Jewish
extraction, he despises Zionism.
identified with the Soviet Union until its
collapse. Afterward he told an interviewer, "The
collapse of the Soviet system does not mean that
capitalism has succeeded ... Socialism is simply
the idea that people are better off if we work
collectively and that the economic system we live
in is made by people and therefore can be
controlled intelligently rather than let loose.
There's no way that can't be true."
nothing against homosexuals, although I think
homosexuality a poor theme for political
agitation. I have a great deal against Marxists,
especially apologists for the Soviet empire. And I
have even more against crashing bores who inflict
on the public such dialogue as:
"The point was to be righteous. If I
lose that, that's my soul." "Do you think you
can part from your fears? Your
And those are lines that
Spielberg chose to put in the movie's
It may seem incongruous for the
liberal mainstream to set against the Bush
administration a gay Marxist's view of the Middle
East. In fact, Spielberg's transition from the
world of Indiana Jones to the realm of Angels
in America measures the miserable state of the
liberal mainstream since September 11, 2001. Well
may Americans disapprove of the president's poor
handling of Iraq, but they are quite happy to
slaughter their enemies when opportunity permits.
Nor do they sit up nights worrying, like Kushner's
fictional Mossad agents, about whether they might
kill the wrong fellow on occasion.
disdains revealed truth as a relic of the barbaric
past, one finds truth only in the "authentic"
self-expression of every grouplet in the world.
Gays become authentic by actualizing their own
truth, along with African-Americans, Native
Americans, Palestinians, or whatever band of
sufferers might turn up with a grievance.
The more evidence accumulates that the
"authenticity" of some groups centers on wreaking
havoc on other groups, the more desperately
liberal opinion clings to the illusion that the
self-expression of each grouplet may be subject to
universal reconciliation. The enemy in the Middle
East, according to Spielberg, is not the Israelis,
nor the Palestinians, but "intransigence". If only
everyone would be nicer to each other –gay and
straight, Israeli and Palestinian, cowboy and
Indian –all would be well. To be able to say this
without laughing, one does not have to be a
Marxist –but it helps.
Arabs as well as
Israelis will be outraged by Spielberg's "prayer
for peace". Mohammed Daoud, one of the Black
September terrorists who organized the 1972
attack, contacted Reuters in September to denounce
Spielberg's pro-Israeli stance, while Israel's
supporters have denounced his attempt at
even-handedness between terrorists and avengers.
Spielberg encapsulates everything that
Islamists are fighting: the septic tide of
American popular culture seeping through and
eroding traditional society. The Arab world
despises Marxists, homosexuals and Hollywood
directors. To the limited extent that Americans
bother to see Munich, it will persuade them
that, like it or not, they are stuck with the likes
of Bush. He may not be one of history's great
orators, but from literary a standpoint, I would
rather listen to a Bush press conference than a
Kushner script any day of the week.