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Jingo Porn

Hollywood's new obsession: deface public landmarks, point to a familiar enemy and stroke a nation's bloodlust

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Hollywood's latest trend is a blind-man's bluff of trying to attract a mass audience by wreaking havoc on United States landmarks, laying blame on villains who look all too familiar and draping its heroes in American flags. This shameful, big budget braggadocio is, in my estimation, a new form of jingoistic pornography.

The movies already have Torture Porn (R-rated sadism that takes particular glee in hurting women) and Geezer Porn (action films that star the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis). To that pantheon of desolation, I propose the addition of Jingo Porn: a highly manipulative, shallow filmmaking style that defaces public monuments while pointing to an easily discernible enemy and stoking a national bloodlust.

Watching the repugnant, recently released Olympus Has Fallen--and anticipating the June opening of White House Down--my fear is that heroism may have lost its way in 21st century moviemaking.

The formula is sophomoric. Step one: introduce us to a loner-hero who has been sacked (by his employer, his government, his family or all of the above). Step two: identify a villain (preferably a foreigner, non-Caucasian or someone with a warped sense of liberty). Step three: have the villain murder a massive number of men and women in uniform. Step four: have the well-armed hero kill his way to victory. Step five: cut to a situation room showing a bunch of old men clownishly hugging one another.

Destroying the White House on film isn't anything new--Mars Attacks and Independence Day did it with equal silliness. But there's a wide crevasse between an alien invasion and the outright abuse of our nation's current jitters over foreign and domestic terrorism.

In fact, Olympus Has Fallen is the worst kind of exploitation, as director Antoine Fuqua marginalizes North Korea's real-life despotism. Fuqua's film never wastes an opportunity to show fictional North Koreans desecrate the American flag while laying waste to our nation's capital. The film's only response is to plunge knives into the skulls of these thugs (which is done oh so efficiently by Elvis-lipped hero Gerard Butler). If your concept of diplomacy begins and ends with violence, this may be your feel-good movie of the year.

America on the brink of ruin has been the grist of the moviemaking mill for decades (Fail-Safe, Dr. Strangelove), but those films were successful because of intellect and agile satire.

Unfortunately, in a zealous desire to lure 14-year-old gamers into the cineplex, some filmmakers have confused geopolitics with child's play. To them, I respectfully submit that the defense of our nation's ideals is best left to grown-ups.