Wednesday, January 19, 2011

George VI under fire in Hollywood

I've never had that much respect for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but since whether I like it or not a great deal of importance is attached to the Oscars, I'd still like to see The King's Speech (as the leading monarchical movie of 2010) do well at the ceremony on February 27. Apparently, however, some people would not--not because of any actual flaws in the film as entertainment, but because it does not address King George VI's allegedly insufficiently anti-Nazi sentiments before World War II. Never mind that George VI was a constitutional monarch and therefore obliged to agree with his government's policies, which prior to 1939 were understandably oriented towards appeasement in hopes of avoiding another catastrophic war, which it was (correctly) feared would destroy the British Empire. Never mind that no Western governments were particularly interested in helping Jews escape from Nazi Germany before World War II, which was originally declared to free Poland from the Nazi and Soviet invasion, not to save the Jews from Hitler. Never mind that whatever their reservations about war before it came, once it had been declared King George VI and Queen Elizabeth proved to be magnificent emblems of resistance to Hitler and therefore played a crucial role in sustaining the morale necessary to defeat Nazi Germany.

What is really offensive is the underlying premise that every work of art or entertainment ought to be judged not on its own artistic merits but on whether it sufficiently satisfies Jewish concerns. And what is really tiresome is the ubiquitous reduction of World War II to the Holocaust (not generally regarded as a central aspect of the war until the 1960s), as if Jewish suffering is the only suffering that matters and ought to dominate any reference to the period. Churchill and Roosevelt's ally "Uncle Joe" Stalin had already starved seven million Ukranians before the war even began, about which the West did absolutely nothing, yet I don't see Ukranian lobbies agitating that every film set in the 1930s address this. Whatever the flaws of British immigration policy in Palestine, that subject is not the point of The King's Speech, and whoever is behind this attack on the film needs to get over themselves. My own ancestry is part Jewish, but this sort of embarrassing arrogance only makes genuine anti-Semitism harder to refute. I hope that common sense and artistic integrity will triumph over this irresponsible smear campaign and allow The King's Speech to gather the accolades it deserves.


Matterhorn said...

Anyone can be smeared, by selectively exploiting certain facts in isolation from context.

I agree with your points about the arrogance of focusing so exclusively on Jewish suffering, and about the way that can backfire.

MadMonarchist said...

The movie was about the King's speech impediment, not World War II, not the Nazis, not his politics. I cannot fathom the mentality of judging a movie about one subject for not being about another. The only criteria should be whether or not the film was well made and demonstrated mastery of the craft and how good a performance the actors gave. That's it.

No one should be asked to vote on whether or not they thought the historic King George was a good man or not but simply how well Firth played him.

Will2010 said...

The fact that George VI was not a bigot can be proven by the fact that when he visited South Africa after the war he was appalled to be told not to shake hands with black people, and refered to his police guards as the Gestapo.

Michael Zubitis said...

Here, here! I concur!

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

The idea that Jews are only worried about their own sufferings is absurd, considering the high percentage of Jews who work at/for charities that have nothing exclusively to do with Jews. But I do find it absolutely fascinating that a) everyone is assuming Jews are doing this smear campaign & b) the level of discourse shoots straight to that of Holocaust deniers.