Cafe Witness

Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93

I woke to an email this morning from someplace called Motive Entertainment, a company that essentially polls potential audiences for, among other things, films. Today they'd issued a wide release to build awareness for Universal's film United 93, the story of what happened aboard the only hijacked flight on 9/11 that didn't hit its target.

Judging from the wording of their press release, Motive couldn't be a more aptly-named company. First, it cites three blockbuster quotes:

1. Rush Limbaugh, who's usually my first choice for a film review, states (somewhat incomprehensibly, when taken out of context): "I wish this movie had been out two or three years ago."

2. Ebert & Roeper, who declare this "an extraordinary film. The best movie so far this year."

3. Dennis Prager, a conservative columnist who has declared: "I believe it is just about every American's duty to see this film."

The editorial Prager's quote is pulled from, linked prior, also mentions that "we have to win this war more than any since World War II. That's how bad our enemy is." It also lauds the film as being fact-based, rather than "some fictional, politically driven, reality-distorting film by Oliver Stone."

That's right, folks. Because a film about the heroism of the passengers aboard United flight 93 is absolutely NOT politically driven nor reality-distorting. (I won't even dignify the numerous reports from the day of 9/11 itself that indicated flight 93 was shot down by our own Air Force, since, among other things, that would contradict the public myth of what happened that day.)

Motive Entertainment's press release also mentions its own United 93 website, where you can "download free teaching and preaching resources to engage in key issues like, “Why do Islamic terrorists hate America? How should we respond as Americans? As Christians? As Jews? As Muslims?”" Prominently featured on that site's homepage is the question: "Why do they hate America?"

With wording like that, it should come as no surprise that Motive's marketing website also lauds its accomplishments in marketing "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," last year's breakout theological hit, or that the primary angle of its marketing scheme is (surprise!) The Faith Market.

As with most issues relating to politics and religion these days (and really, why bother trying to separate the two?), it doesn't matter what liberals or even moderates think. The agenda has been set by the far right and the rest of us are just playing in its shadow.

However, I will agree with Mr. Prager on one key issue. While box office prognosticators Box Office Prophets, who consistently underestimate the value of "niche" programming, have tabbed "United 93" to pull in $16 million this weekend, I'm siding with Prager, who says:

"Perhaps if "United 93" turns out to be the unforeseen box office success that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was, the lure of major profits will exert more influence over Hollywood than even Hollywood leftists do."

Hmm. Enough politics and religion to give me a headache and I haven't even left the house yet. Motive Marketing, your methods are true.


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