Friday, March 30, 2007

"Loose Change" - A Fable Is Born


There has been much local wringing of hands and breathless consternation over Mark Cuban's decision to distribute a documentary film called "Loose Change", which has the tag line: "An exploration of the viewpoint that the September 11, 2001 attacks were planned by the United States government." Funny, huh? Oops! Sorry, not supposed to laugh. This is Serious Business.

To all my brain-dead friends with their panties in a wad over this: chill. This is the moral equivalent of a "world is flat" film. The makers of such a film may think they are disproving and maybe even disparaging the "world is round" believers but what is in actuality happening? Such filmmakers brand themselves morons and would never again be able to make any sort of claim of credibility outside of possibly Fox news. People think Cuban is aiding and abetting the makers of "Loose Change". Truth is, he's mocking them.

More accurately, his position is to let these directors make their own bed and then lie in it. Praise or ridicule - the choice is yours, he says. Mark Cuban may be the Jed Clampett of the internet but he's smart enough not to claim to be the Arbiter of Truth (outside of NBA foul calls). However, there is no shortage of those will gladly take that title. And they are fools. Who do you trust to censor what you see?

One movie that influenced me for a lifetime was that of the Nazi march in Skokie, Illinois that was defended by the ACLU. And the lawyer who defended their right was Jewish. I will die a supporter of the ACLU, they who understand the importance of free speech as a cornerstone of liberty. The irony is that those who opposed the march were the true fascists.


But what is truly fascinating here is witnessing the birth of an urban legend, a modern fable. The Good Book says the truth is within us, so on some level we all know what’s going on, even if we are not always completely honest with ourselves – or others. While there have been many assertions of our “honorable intentions” in engaging the Iraqi war and of how a President of the United States would never do anything as dishonorable as leading us falsely into harm’s way, no one truly believes we’ve been told the truth. And nature abhors a vacuum.

So into the void steps one and all with a spin job to sell. Some more crazy than others. Point is, there is an emotional truth here – a feeling we have not been told all the facts. The Da Vinci Code was the same thing. Give us a good story to fill the gaps and we’ll eat it up. What we are really saying when we buy into such things is that we are not satisfied with the explanations we have been given, which is what gives these wacky theories their staying power. But the seduction is that these Appealing Lies used to fill the void are far easier to take than the actual truth - and that's always a loss.

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