Conservatives hate White House Down. Brietbart.com called it “unrelenting liberal propaganda disguised as popcorn entertainment.” The American Conservative dismissed it as “A Hollywood-White House-Democratic Party Production.” “Obama-Porn” the blog Republican Party Animals crowed.
Hell, even Mother Jones joined the chorus, calling the film “one enormous pander to the most naïve impulses of your average dime-store liberal.”
They don’t need one, but conservatives can add another entry to their long list of reasons to dislike Roland Emmerich’s latest film: The American flag was edited out of a pivotal scene.
Townhall.com told readers to boycott. “If you spend one damn cent on this crap, you’re spitting on our troops too,” a columnist for the rightwing website wrote. “Repeat after me, conservatives: Not one damn cent.”
But those who did buy a ticket to see White House Down when it debuted in theaters last weekend may have noticed something strange about the the film’s big, nail-biting finish. (Warning: every spoiler ahead.)
President Jamie Foxx has gone missing in a White House besieged by rightwing terrorists, and is assumed dead. The same terrorists have torpedoed Air Force Two, where the Vice President was just sworn into office, so executive power has passed to the Speaker of the House (a defense industry flack who, it shall later be revealed, masterminded the whole plot). The speaker decides the only way to end this thing once and for all is to call an airstrike on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
There is only one hope for the hostages left inside the White House, and it is little Emily Cale, spawn of Channing Tatum. Emily’s special talent, per earlier exposition, is flag twirling. So naturally the film’s dramatic conclusion finds her in the middle of the White House lawn, waving an enormous flag as furiously as her little arms can manage, in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to wave the airstrike off.
It works–but that’s not the unbelievable part. The unbelievable part is that the flag she uses to do it isn’t Old Glory (what some might consider the natural choice), but a generic blue White House flag instead.
As it turns out, one version of the scene was shot with an American flag.
Eagle-eyed Voice Film Editor Alan Scherstuhl noticed the change while perusing the latest issue of American Cinematographer, which features a full spread on White House Down‘s director of photography, Anna Foerster, and still images from the set. One of the photographs captured the filming of Emily Cale’s big scene–except in the photo she is foisting an American flag, not the White House one that appears in the finished film.
The Voice reached out to the film’s publicist, Scott Feinstein, to inquire about the change. He insisted the White House flag wasn’t green-screened into the final product.
“It was shot both ways and the Presidential flag worked better creatively for the movie,” Feinstein said via e-mail. “Emily (played by Joey King) is in love with the President, so she’s using his flag to save President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) and her Dad (Channing Tatum).”
Happy Fourth of July, folks! For creative reasons, we’ll be festooning our party with generic blue White House flags tomorrow.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2013