Let audiences determine movie's merit themselves

While CNN and National Public Radio have had different ways of approaching current events in the past, there is one thing they agree on today: Newmarket Films' pseudo-documentary Death of a President is not fit to be promoted on their airwaves.

While CNN and National Public Radio have had different ways of approaching current events in the past, there is one thing they agree on today: Newmarket Films' pseudo-documentary Death of a President is not fit to be promoted on their airwaves.

These news outlets have created an odd dichotomy: They can report on the movie, but refuse to run ads for DOAP, which examines the fictional, on-screen assassination of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's subsequent rise to presidency. In addition, two major American cinema chains - Regal Entertainment and Cinemark USA - have turned the film away, citing its extreme subject matter. And in what may be a first, both the Republican Party of Texas and Hillary Rodham Clinton agree that DOAP is shocking, disgusting, and sick.

In all likelihood, DOAP would not have screened at those theaters, anyway - it is an art-house picture by nature. But it is disturbing that a movie with both a purported anti-violence message and huge film-festival buzz - especially one that's already aired twice on British TV - should be in essence banned by so many American outlets. Not all advertising outlets object to DOAP. Print ads are running in major newspapers nationwide, and spots have even been accepted by Fox.com.

The problem here lies not in whether the film is potentially offensive, but in whether Americans should have the opportunity to make that decision for themselves.

Ultimately, those who ban DOAP are generating their own publicity, aligning themselves with audiences who don't care to see this sort of "political snuff" while alienating others. But commercials or not, viewers who want to see the film will see it, and each will form his or her own opinion. This isn't 1950s China (or 2006 North Korea), after all. Yet.

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