THE USUAL SUSPECTS ‌ Home of the Brave 

When will Hollywood be ready to show some real courage?

"You know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects."—Academy Award® Winner George Clooney

You know what, George? You're right. Hollywood is just too good for us.

You made that point absolutely clear to the Great Unwashed at Sunday's Academy Awards show. There's high-minded Hollywood, celebrating your favorites like Capote and The Constant Gardener (combined box office $60 million), while we — the mouth-breathers and red staters — ignorantly waste our time on garbage like The Chronicles of Narnia (Gross: $270 million) and Revenge of the Sith ($380 million).

We are not worthy.

That "issue films" montage was a bit much. Yes, George, we got the point. Hollywood loves to make bold, socially-conscious movies that challenge the status quo on burning issues of the day. Powerful, uncompromising movies like The Grapes of Wrath (poverty and social justice), In The Heat Of The Night (racism and segregation), Philadelphia (homosexuality and AIDS), and 9 to 5 (uh...).

Yes, the tribute to Hollywood's "out of touch" tradition featured two clips from Dolly Parton's socially-conscious homage to incredibly oversized hair, along with scenes from Something's Gotta Give — an uncompromising look at the ability of rich old movie stars to nail their granddaughter's roommates. There was even a shot from The Great Dictator featuring Charlie Chaplin making fun of ... Adolf Hitler!

Now that's pushing the envelope. What's next — a film making Osama bin Laden look bad?

Actually, there won't be a film about Osama; at least, there don't seem to be any planned. And if there were an Osama movie, George, no doubt it would — like your Oscar-winning Syriana and Palestinian foreign film nominee Paradise Now — make sure we saw the positive, upbeat side of suicide bombing.

Say, George — if you're really in the mood to show off some he-man bravery and iconoclastic spirit, why don't you be the first guy in Hollywood to make a movie portraying suicide bombers as the bad guys? In fact, George, if you really wanted to show Hollywood your fearlessness, you could actually make a movie in which the suicide bombers are all — I'm going way out on a limb here — Muslims.

This may sound crazy, but how about a movie where the suicide bombers motivated by religious fervor are the bad guys; and the Israeli Defense Forces trying to keep them from blowing up a shopping mall are the good guys? Why, it would be revolutionary!

Ready to break through some taboos, Mr. "Movies Are Made To Challenge Us?" How about a film about a couple of guys who used to be gay, but through counseling or even (warning: shocking concept ahead!) a religious conversion, they choose to abandon the gay lifestyle? It would be bold! It would be controversial! It could even be based on numerous true stories! How about that one, eh, George?

Or a movie where a working woman chooses to stay home and raise her own children ... and is happy about it? Or a woman who has an abortion and is haunted by her decision? Show a clip of an actual (ahem) "late term abortion" and we could have some anti-free-speech riots of our own!

Speaking of women, George, those of us who love political movies wonder when Hollywood is going to tell the epic tale of a charismatic liberal president who can't keep his pants up? About how he subverts the entire judicial system and single-handedly destroys the Independent Counsel law, all over a couple of meaningless quickies with a college-age intern, while his militant feminist wife stands by. Why, that story's got Hollywood magic written all over it. Sex! Political Intrigue! More Sex! Tobacco Products and Still More Sex!

So when does it open?

There are so many bold moments in movies we rubes are just waiting to see: Movies about race-baiting ministers who preach anti-Semitism but are invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention; families of today who've been destroyed by the values of the '60s.

And then there's the ultimate challenge: A movie in which Saddam Hussein is the bad guy. OK, so maybe I've gone too far...

I just want you to know, Mr. Clooney, that Hollywood's bragging about courage and willingness to confront dogma isn't completely wasted on us out here in the boonies. We know what courage looks like. We're just waiting to see some.

Good night, and good luck.


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