A new movie that opened on February 9, in Europe creating quite an uproar. It‘s called “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq.”
During the plot of the movie, U.S. soldiers attack a wedding party in Iraq. They drag prisoners off to Abu Ghraib. The soldiers then conspire with a Jewish doctor to harvest and sell the internal organs of the Arab prisoners.
Critics are calling it one of the worst anti-American propaganda films ever yet it stars two big Hollywood actors. One of the soldiers is played by Billy Zane of “Titanic” fame, and Gary Busey of “Point Break,” “Lethal Weapon” and “The Buddy Holly Story.”
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League and Grady Hendrix, a writer for “Daily Variety”‘s Asian movie blog, joined ‘Scarborough Country’ to talk about the movie.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST’ SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’: Grady, you don‘t think Americans should be offended by this movie, do you?
GRADY HENDRIX, “DAILY VARIETY”: Well, I don‘t know about every American, but being a patriotic American myself, I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of association.
So, no. And, for Gary Busey, this is a big step forward from “The Gingerdead Man” that he was in last year.
SCARBOROUGH: So, he‘s playing actually a Jewish doctor that harvests the organs of Arabs. Can you think of a more anti-Semitic setup?
HENDRIX: Well, yes, I can, because that probably reflects poorly on me.
I think a lot has been made about this, and I think viewers should know right off that all three of us are really talking out of our ears, since I don‘t think any of us have seen the film. It‘s just been released. None of us have seen it. All we know about Gary Busey‘s role is that, in the synopsis on the company‘s Web site, it says his character is Jewish.
And being from South Carolina, myself, when I‘m talking to someone or I‘m telling a story, I will sometimes say, oh, this black guy. And someone will look at me and say, why do you have to know he‘s black? And it‘s a cultural thing. Different cultures, they think different things that are worth mentioning.
And I think, in the Middle East, it‘s something when you say someone is a Jew. And I think that raised our eyebrows. But I think, over there, it‘s par for the course and part of the daily way people talk to each other.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, a Jew that harvests the organs of Arabs. Yes, if that‘s par for the course with the way they think, that explains why you have people running airplanes into buildings in America.
Here‘s what these two actors had to say to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY about their role in this movie.
Billy Zane said “I was fascinated by a compelling character embroiled in a controversial topic that told the story from a different point of view. I will be the first to say that this movie was slanted, heavy-handed, and even harsh. And while I appreciate the healthy debates that accompany these topics, I‘m an actor who plays an intriguing character, not a political pundit.”
And Gary Busey defended his role with a statement through his lawyer, saying: “Do we really want the times to dictate our freedom of expression?”
Well, Bill Donahue, I guess I feel bad for questioning why Gary Busey would star in a film in a Muslim country that portrays Jews as harvesters of Arabs‘ organs, and portrays Americans as war criminals. What‘s wrong with this picture?
WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn‘t care.
If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so. And they would do it with a smile on their face. It‘s such a cop-out to talk about freedom of expression.
HENDRIX: Really? I think that‘s a founding principle of this country. How is that a cop-out? Do you not appreciate the Constitution and the Bill or Rights?
DONAHUE: The fact of the matter is that freedom of expression, freedom of speech, which is in the First Amendment, is a means toward an end. It is not an end in itself.
HENDRIX: What do you think the end is?
DONAHUE: It is a mean toward the good society.
And my freedom of speech is also conditioned on you shutting up while I‘m speaking.
Now, you know, we just saw this in the Islamic world, the reaction, the barbaric reaction of so many people in the Muslim world because of a cartoon. I came out with a statement saying, I agree with the United States, Great Britain and the Vatican, saying that it was unnecessarily inflammatory. And I commend the media—even though they‘re hypocritical, the way they act to Catholics—for not reprinting it or showing it.
But the fact of the matter is, I am less interested in Gary Busey than I am in the Turkish officials. I read what the Turkish officials read about the movie. They thought it was great, including the prime minister.
Now, in this country, we are civilized. We don‘t appreciate it when somebody sticks it to you in the name of freedom of speech, sir. We condemn it.
But, over there, they take the uncivilized approach. And then they wonder why so many people don‘t trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty, because they will abuse it. In this country, we prize freedom of religion. They abhor it.
SCARBOROUGH: Grady, talk about that. What a contrast we have here, where, all across the Muslim world, we‘re having riots over one cartoon, and yet here we have a movie that paints Jewish doctors as organ harvesters, and we‘re supposed to sit back and just say, well, that‘s freedom of expression. Isn‘t there a double standard that you are carrying around?
HENDRIX: Well, first off, I don‘t think you can say it paints Jewish doctors as organ harvesters.
This is one character. None of us have seen the film. From what I know from people who have seen it, it‘s not even mentioned in the film that he‘s Jewish. The only two mentions of Judaism in the movie come when there‘s a quick shot of a crate of organs being shipped to New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Tel Aviv. And then there‘s a conversation between Billy Zane and Gary Busey, where, without mentioning what religions they are, although you know Billy Zane is a Christian, because he prays an awful lot in the movie, they have a conversation about whose God is tougher.
So, I don‘t think this movie is not selling anti-Semitism.
SCARBOROUGH: But, at the same time, you told me yourself that, you said, on the Web site, yourself, that they explain that he‘s a Jewish doctor. So, what are they doing on the Web site. Just in case the audience members couldn‘t figure out the character that was harvesting organs was Jewish, they went ahead and put it on the Web site?
HENDRIX: Well, I don‘t know. I don‘t usually go to a movie‘s Web site before I go and see it.
But I don‘t think they‘re selling anti-Semitism. What they‘re selling is anti-Americanism, which is very popular around the world right now. And it‘s the same thing movie producers do in every country. You find something popular that sells, and you make a movie around it.
SCARBOROUGH: So, do you have any problem with Billy Zane and Gary Busey being in a movie that is so anti-American that our troops are being ordered to stay away from movie theaters showing it because they‘re afraid that American troops may be injured or killed?
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it was a clever thing to do, because I think people like you gentlemen will excoriate them for it and really take them to task for it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, will you not take them to task for it?
HENDRIX: No, not really . They‘re actors. They‘re not particularly successful actors at this point in their career.
SCARBOROUGH: They have no responsibility?
HENDRIX: Responsibility to what?
SCARBOROUGH: Responsibility to not have Americans killed because they‘re taking part in propaganda.
HENDRIX: You think this movie is going to get Americans killed?
SCARBOROUGH: Using your logic—well, I will tell you what. That‘s what the Pentagon is saying. They‘re telling our troops to stay away from movie theaters.
But, using your logic, you‘re saying it would have been OK for Clark Gable to star in a Nazi propaganda film in 1939.
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it would have been smart of him to do, but, as an American, he has that right.
SCARBOROUGH: You would have no problem with that? It just wouldn‘t be the most intelligent career move?
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it would be an intelligent career move, but no, it wouldn‘t offend me personally, because he has a right to do it, as an American. And if I attack that right, then I‘m being un-American.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Bill Donahue, it‘s being un-American.
HENDRIX: No, you can have any opinion about it you want.
SCARBOROUGH: Is this what we have gotten to as an American culture, Bill, that it is un-American for us to be concerned about Americans participating in a foreign film that is so anti-American that our soldiers could face harm because of it?
DONAHUE: You know what‘s un-American, is the idea that we can uncouple rights from responsibilities.
If you take a look what the founders said when they founded this country, certainly, they gave us a Constitution. They gave us a Declaration. They gave us a Bill of Rights attendant to the Constitution.
But they always talked about how the Constitution, as John Adams said, was made only for a moral and religious people. They understood that you had to be responsible. What we‘re getting here now is the idea that freedom means license to do whatever you want.
You know, no wonder the Muslim extremists did go into the streets in Europe, saying, freedom is hatred, because that‘s the interpretation that some people in this country are giving, that freedom means the right to do whatever you want to do. That is a bastardization of freedom, as understood by the founders in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
DONAHUE: That‘s the real problem.
To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.