Last night, I was invited to see "The Situation" - a fictional film about Iraq. I was excited to see it because Damien Lewis, an actor who played Soames Forsythe from one of my favorite PBS shows The Forsythe Saga, was starring in it. My friend, Jonathan Morganstein - the Liberal Marine - invited me to go with him. He's served in Iraq and is a democrat so he always has an interesting view on things.
Anyway, the movie was just okay - the acting wasn't very good in parts - too many 'speeches' about how you can't know who the good guys are and how terrible it is now in Iraq compared to under Saddam. I thought it would have been more effective just to show some of it - women having to dress more conservatively, the fear of ordinary things, the power struggles etc. The main character - a female journalist - was terrible. She made all the wrong decisions, put everyone at risk because of her, and worst of all - cried during the big crisis! Of course all the men in the movie were in love with her. Yet another set back for women in war zones. Help us! We are too stupid to get ourselves out of these situations and don't deserve to be there anyway! My actual favorite characters were the "Noble Iraqi Photographer" who was hot and sensitive and funny and the war profiteer insurgent - "Walid", a testament to the actor, I think who was able to really sparkle and show some wit under the turgid circumstances.
The crowd at the premiere was interesting - as a Washington DC premiere, our celebrities were a journalist from the Washington Post and an analyst from the Brookings Institute. Ugh. Dull Dull Dull. Oh- and the Washington Editor of Slate.com. Women came in wearing fur coats but they all wore Ann Taylor 'couture' and had the Washington power hair. If you are over fifty, your power hair is sprayed and bouffant. if you are under fifty, it's flat-ironed straight. There were maybe three non-white people in the audience - two Iraqi women and a black man. Everyone else was the typical Washington wonk types. The old important men speak loudly and jovially and shake everyone's hands. The old important women air kiss each other's cheeks while their dead eyes scan the crowd. The young ambitious senior class presidents from high schools across America looking adoringly at the old folks.
In the end of the film, the American journalist leaves behind the dead Iraqi journalist who lost his life trying to save her. The CIA agent who was trying to make things better is none the wiser. And I left depressed about Iraq and DC - depressed about the self-congratulatory tone of the audience. They all chuckled knowingly when the young new CIA analyst is chastised by an Iraqi diplomat for his ignorance and when the earnest journalist dumps the CIA lover because he says 'its just Iraqis!'.
Jonathan leaned over during the panel discussion at the end and pointed out that the Brookings analyst who was so earnestly promoting his 'new 190 page report on what he thinks about Iraq' and how he wished he could build a time machine and go back to March 2003 was a huge proponent for the war before it began. And that's how it goes in Washington. It's all posturing and politics - no one remembers what you said three years ago, they only care what the executive summary of your latest report says now.