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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Three cheers for Hollywood: complicit down to the very core
Washington, D.C., Spring 2002. An office in the Department of Defense. A scowling, gray-haired man picks up the phone. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appears agitated.
"Ginny, put me through to the Psy-ops people, the cultural liaison office or whatever the damn thing's called. You know, the Hollywood office."
"Yes, Mr. Secretary. Please hold."
The phone rings. A voice on the other end says:
"Secretary Rumsfeld, good afternoon, sir. Always an honor."
"Hi, Jim. Look, the C-in-C and I are in the middle of planning a big get-down, and we could really use some help on this one."
"Would you be referring to the Iraq situation, sir?"
"You know I can't confirm or deny that, Jim. Strictly confidential. Can't have leaks that this op is good to go, the U.N. namby-pambies will get their shorts in a twist."
"But we do need some help on this weapons-of-mass-destruction issue. Basically the invasion is going to be for the stated reason of removing Saddam's WMD, but this could get uncomfortable for us. You know, those liberals will start whining about how if these weapons are so awful, how come we've got so many of them? Damn fools don't understand the value of a good deterrent. Anyway, we need to get on message as follows: Axis of Evil WMD bad, U.S. WMD good. So we're trying to cover all the angles, pull out all the stops. Got any projects on your desk that could help us out?"
"Hang on a second while I take a look . . . "
"By the way, Jim, excellent job with 'Black Hawk Down.' Liked the way it kept the collateral damage offscreen."
"Thank you, sir. Now, it seems we do have one request from a project that's good to go. Called 'The Core.' They need some aircraft carrier shots and such, so it's the usual deal. We get script approval and 'advice' in exchange."
"Hmm. What's it about? 'The Gore,' you say? This isn't about the Florida recount, dammit?!?"
"No, sir! 'The Core.' Sci-fi, disaster kinda movie. It's about what would happen if the magma core of the planet, which is in constant rotation, were to stop spinning. The electromagnetic field would be disrupted, then fall apart. Start with electrical disruptions and lighting storms, end up getting cooked by cosmic radiation. Pretty nasty stuff."
"Wow. Is that even possible?"
"I'm not sure, Mr. Secretary. The film blames it on a secret military experiment in seismic weaponry that disrupted the core's flow!"
"Oh, yeah, I remember that from my days with 'the Gipper.' Remember how the Soviets used that seismic weapon to create those massive earthquakes in Armenia?"
"Ummm, actually that didn't happen, sir. That was our spin: Black ops. Disinformation. They didn't really have the capability."
"Then good work, soldier. So, who causes it in the film?"
"Rogue elements of the U.S. military, sir. Ollie North types. But don't worry. We've inserted a line into the script explaining mutually assured destruction, how we had to develop these weapons just in case our enemies did."
"Nothing classified in there, better not be."
"No, sir, strictly fiction. Pretty off-the-wall stuff. Like the rocket-powered drill that the scientists drive to reach the center of the earth is made of an indestructible substance called 'unobtainium.' "
"Ha! That's great. (Laughs.) Maybe that's what I'll leak to the Times, tell them that's what Saddam is stockpiling, a hidden cache of weapons-grade 'unobtainium.' Safire will pick it up, next thing you know, the U.N. inspectors will be looking for it! But seriously, I don't get it, how is this one gonna help us?"
"Well, sir, the method by which the scientists save the world is by detonating a series of atomic warheads in the Earth's core to 're-start' the flow of magma."
"You're kidding me."
"No, sir. One thousand megatons detonated. We can slip a line in right here for the lead actor, Aaron Eckhart, to read."
"Yeah, I know him. Kirk Douglas kinda guy, the chin thing."
"How about if we have him say something like 'The world's biggest weapons of mas destruction will help save the planet!' "
"Oh my, I love it. (Laughs.) The environmentalists will go ballistic!"
"Wait till they see the scene where a school of whales assists our carrier fleet in finding the missing scientists."
(Long, raucous, gasping laughter.)
"Also good is a scene where the Golden Gate Bridge gets melted by microwaves during rush hour. It coincides well with our threat-level-orange alerts, you know, with intelligence leaks on how al-Qaeda's been thinking of targeting the bridge. Scary stuff."
"Well, that's damn well what we need. Keep 'em frightened, at least until the next election's over! Isn't there some way we could have terrorists do it, though? Like a microwave ray, or something?"
"No, sir. But Mother Nature's the enemy here, and the U.S. military kicks her butt."
"Heh, heh, heh. I like it. Add this to 'Armageddon,' and soon Joe Sixpack will have a dozen reasons he can think of why we can't reduce our nuclear capability."
"Hurray for Hollywood, sir."
"You bet. And they call it the 'liberal media,' ha! We've got them bent over just the way we like them. They wanna play with our toys, they gotta play by our rules. Now, one more thing, about the North Koreans, any chance that, say, maybe the next James Bond movie could . . . "