A Festival of Anti-Americanism

The Cannes Film Festival has ended amid a critical consensus that the films premiering there were the weakest group in memory. This might have something to do with the intellectual aridity of a festival which consisted largely of varieties of anti-Americanism: French anti-Americanism, Danish anti-Americanism, Iranian anti-Americanism, and American anti-Americanism.
The festival’s Palme d’Or went to “Elephant,” an American-made film about the Columbine High School shootings. The French apparently never tire of hearing about Columbine, but I suspect the commercial audience for this film will be close to zero.
Danish anti-Americanism was represented by Lars von Trier’s “Dogville,” the tedious chronicle of a woman abused in a small American town of the 1930’s. Von Trier denied that his film was anti-American, but went on to offer this strikingly original commentary on America: “I don’t see the American society as being very caring to the people who don’t have much. This is something I believe I ought to criticise, even though I haven’t been there.”
Iranian anti-Americanism came from twenty-three year old Samira Makhmalbaf, who traveled to Kabul after Afghanistan was liberated and was disappointed at what she found: “I wanted to show reality, not the cliches on television saying that the US went to Afghanistan and rescued the people from the Taliban, that the US did a Rambo. When I went there it just wasn’t like that.” The failure of the American effort can be summed up in her finding that: “There is still a big difference between men and women in Afghanistan.” Hey, it’s been almost a year. Makhmalbaf concluded, “I don’t want to be president in a world where the most famous president in the world is George W. Bush!”
It is easy to see why American audiences are unwilling either to take moral instruction from these self-described “artists,” or to sit through their dismal movies.


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