My husband and I have been traveling over the past week on a road trip through the South up through Denver, a wannabe On the Road in the digital age. We prided ourselves on not bringing any maps or agenda and just going with it; "going with it" involves only our iPhones, iPad and GPS. One of my own rules for this trip has been to completely avoid popular culture, a very difficult task for me. At rest stops and local supermarkets I have had to covers my eyes from the Star magazines. The E! Network is forbidden in hotels. I caught a glimpse of Amanda Bynes wearing a ridiculous blond wig to court earlier this week on television at a brewpub in Socorro, NM, and watched mesmerized. "What is going in with Amanda Bynes? Where is her mother?" I desperately asked my husband hoping he would engage in this unnecessary line of questioning. He ignored me and pointed out that we were passing through a Native American reservation from the early 1800s. We have kept up with the more important, real news, but what's going on in Hollywood has purposefully been banned.
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That was until I happened to stumble across the news that they had greenlit a movie based on the Boston bombing (I swear it was an accident and not while my husband was sleeping). While it may seem like something of a distant memory, the Boston bombing happened a mere five months ago and the government is still uncovering information as to what exactly happened and furthermore why. The movie, which is to be called Boston Strong is actually based on a book of the same title. So, the movie will be based on a book rather than based on news reporting of the actual event, which I think we can agree was initially pretty spotty. The movie will be penned by screenwriters Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, the guys behind another Boston strong movie The Fighter. I am not the only person on the Internet it seems that feels that this move is quite premature. How can they write the ending; we still don't even know what's going to happen!
Fictionalizing historic events quickly is not a new process, the publishing industry has been doing it for decades, but film just feels different. Watching the events unfold in front of you, on the big screen, with surround sound and in 3D, no doubt, is like we are trivializing this horrific event. Time magazine suggests that not only does this movie seem too soon but it might "impact the feelings about the film" for years down the line. Put a bad taste is the collective's mouth now and risk ruining what could be an important film in history.
I have another thought on making a movie so quickly about this event, poor taste aside. Yet again, the media is putting a bright, white spotlight on people who do bad things. There have been many conversations about the media's place in highlighting tragic events, which may be putting fuel to the fire of more tragic events. This school of thought received a lot of attention around Columbine, but it has only gotten worse with the 24-hour news cycle. If we make a big Hollywood movie about the Boston tragedy this quickly, are we giving cause for someone, a copycat perhaps, to try something like this again? "Ohh, maybe Brad Pitt will play me in the movie if I take a shotgun to the next parade." It is a scary thought but not that absurd as a motivation to do something awful. Someone tried to shoot the president to impress Jodie Foster, don't forget. People are nuts.
Oh and I know that as I write about this, I am playing into the very concept I am chastising, but I'll be the first to admit it. But maybe bringing attention to my own hypocrisy is worthwhile. Meanwhile, I'll be at the Museum of Horrible Tragedies Inflicted on Native Americans That Never Got Movies Made About Them.