'Black Hawk' Damned

Activists Protest No. 1 Movie

That line of reasoning, to some experts, seems slippery.

"By no stretch of the imagination can Black Hawk Down be an argument to get back into Somalia," says Dr. Lawrence Suid, military film historian and author of the war film study, Guts and Glory. "If anything, it's the exact opposite! BHD is a very accurate, honest movie that shows, very clearly, that the Somali people didn't want us there; it was out of our control; and for our efforts, we were slaughtered."

The smoky back room shared by the Pentagon and Hollywood is also myth, Suid explains. The relationship is one of "mutual exploitation." The army provides services to Hollywood moviemakers, and in turn, film liaisons attempt to keep the military's image positive. They proof scripts and make sure directors and producers hold the military in high regard.

Members of Answer picketed the United Artists theater at Union Square.
photo: Cary Conover
Members of Answer picketed the United Artists theater at Union Square.

Outside the industry, some call that censorship. To some Hollywood producers and directors, however, befriending the Pentagon is a cost-effective way to ensure authenticity. For the four-month Black Hawk Down shoot in Morocco, producers had access to 139 troops, and real Black Hawk and Little Bird helicopters. Actors were also able to learn weapons handling at military bases.

"The film is accurate, not racist," says Bowden, and the only reason some have taken offense to the film is that they don't look past the surface imagery. "People respond to images more than words. They convey an impression, and some people can take it wrongly."

The protesters, he claims, are only using Black Hawk Down to draw attention to their own causes.

"How many people were paying attention to the protests of Somalis three months ago?" he says. "This is probably the best thing that ever happened to them."

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