JULY 3, 2000
Critiquing 'The Patriot' critics
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com

I had intended to use this space to shamelessly self-promote my new venture with WorldNetDaily, which starts today.

Commencing at 4:00pm Pacific time we introduce the next step in new media transition as I sign on with a new daily (five days a week) talk show. WorldNetDaily is both live streaming this new product online and syndicating it to terrestrial commercial radio stations.

That ubiquitous writer, "Anonymous," once observed, "The best way to predict the future is to create it," and that is what Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily and I are doing. However, beyond what has preceded, or perhaps because of what we start today, I feel compelled to comment on critics. Not WorldNetDaily critics, and not Geoff Metcalf critics, but critics as a species, and more specifically critics of the new Mel Gibson movie, "The Patriot."

Some wag once said, those that "can't," teach -- and those that can't teach, criticize. As someone who has done all three, it has always been fascinating that the often petty, pretentious, self-satisfied, and incorrect sniping of critics, especially movie critics, can and has destroyed lives, careers and fortunes.

Please believe me, I am not defending the movie industry or its epic pretensions. However, I watched "The Patriot" and at least a dozen movie critics of dubious repute appear victims of their own "form over substance" tragic weaknesses.

Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post wrote, "It's not that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel and the overrated director. It's that for this primal impulse to apply, you somehow have to believe. It has to come from inside. There is no majesty, no feeling here: it's all FX and costuming and casting directors."


Those who denigrate patriotism as "the last refuge of the scoundrel" hope to equate the two. A flag-waving patriot must be a scoundrel? I don't think so, you pretentious punk! Not my ancestors who showed up for the party in Lexington and bled through Concord to Breeds Hill. Not Bob Holland with his Medal of Honor. Not Sgt. York, not Audie Murphy, not Rocky Versace who while bound and held down face first in the mud was rewarded for his patriotism with a NVA bullet to the back of his head.

For this beltway bozo to claim "There's no majesty, no tragedy, no feeling," he either spent more time out of his seat at the refreshment stand and loo, or his prejudice negates any illusion of competence.

Take one seminal sequence in which the reluctant veteran gives aid and comfort to both the British and Colonials wounded in a battle. His home is burned, one of his sons carried off to be hanged, and another shot and killed. When he reverts to the hidden warrior he has repressed and leads his two young sons in a classic ambush of the British platoon, he is not joining the fight on principle, and -- notwithstanding the epic perception errors of Bruce Dancis of the Sacramento Bee, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, or Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter -- he is fighting to save his son. He uses skills he acquired in a previous war that taught him the axioms of small unit tactics: surprise, firepower and violence of action. He engages not for political theory or to oppose a king, or to vanquish a general, or to take strategic ground. He engages to save his son.

Unlike Hunter, I found the movie majestic (albeit less grand than Braveheart), tragic and (although I am not the weepy type) I cried three times.

Gibson's William Wallace was an epic cartoon characterture. "The Patriot" was a multi-faceted character with real flaws and conflicts. Far from being a "revenge fantasy in costume. Think of Charles Bronson with a ponytail ..." as Steve Murray wrote in Atlanta, "The Patriot" is in fact more Shakespearean synthesized with real world practicality.

Roger Ebert claims, "there isn't an idea in it that will stand up to thoughtful scrutiny." Wrong. Early in the movie Gibson rejects his neighbors' desire to levy troops for the militia. He notes (with far more "thoughtful scrutiny" than pompous critics), "What is the difference of suffering a single tyrant 3,000 miles away or 3,000 tyrants one mile away?" Perhaps that was too deep for Ebert or perhaps he needs to get into the real world and eschew the balcony.

Ebert also claims, "The British are seen as gentlemanly fops or sadistic monsters, and the Americans come in two categories: brave or braver." Wrong. I'll reluctantly concede he is right about the unfair portrayal of the British (but, hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day). The Americans, however, were presented in a wide spectrum of colors. Roger must have missed the scene in the church and specifically the moving soliloquy delivered by the young woman rebuking the men for "talking the talk" but diffidently refusing to "walk the walk." Roger must also have been confused by the red coat worn by the Tory who provided intelligence on his neighbors and who eventually was compelled to burn the church with the townspeople locked inside. He apparently didn't see Gen. Gage's troops fearfully turning their heads as they discharged muskets at the British only to turn and run away. Brave and braver?

I often remind folks, "It's not who is right or wrong, but what is right or wrong that counts."

I get the feeling that too often these self-appointed arbiters of quality control get so consumed by the process, the personalities and egos that they either neglect or abandon their presumed goal of articulating analysis of the product they review.

Opinions are like intimate body parts: we all have them. Personal tastes vary; that's why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. The opinions of Roger Ebert, Stephen Hunter, Steve Murray, Kirk Honeycutt, Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times, or Geoff Metcalf have no more merit or substance than your own.

"The Patriot" is not a history lesson; it is fiction based on the events of history. I enjoyed the movie experience. Others with more lofty venues with dubious intentions didn't like it. I suggest you see it and judge its merits and weaknesses yourself. Don't accept the opinions of critics as the determining factor of how you will spend 158 minutes in a movie theater.

However, you are invited to call me Monday to Friday 4:00pm to 7:00pm Pacific Time to express your views and opinions about what is and is not happening in the world at my new talk-radio venue.