By HENRY HSIA
Political controversy has become a common occurrence in every medium, to the point where not even movies are safe from politics.
Set to release on October 12, 2018, First Man depicts the harrowing journey of the years preceding the 1969 moon landing. However, after First Man’s early release in Venice, a controversy has already brewed. Critics claim that not including a scene depicting the planting of the American flag is “anti-American.”
Unfortunately, this controversy shows the changing Hollywood landscape, where even movies that have nothing to do with politics are dragged into negative and toxic political controversies.
Firstly, this controversy will likely negatively affect First Man’s box office performance. The movie’s public reception (PR) and revenue will probably suffer from the criticism. This is especially disheartening for a high quality emotional thriller like this. The movie was in no way related to politics, but will be involuntarily involved and negatively affected by it regardless.
Additionally, the absence of a flag planting scene in First Man will likely not affect the overall quality of the movie. This makes it even more absurd that the movie will be negatively affected by this irrelevant controversy. The movie is primarily focused on the emotional narrative of Neil Armstrong in the years prior to his historic 1969 moon landing. Several characters cast in First Man play historic astronauts who lost their lives in the Apollo program. Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Elliot See were all astronauts who were killed in pre-launch and launch tests. These character deaths exemplify the sacrifices which make up the main emotional narrative of Neil. Consequently, the film elicits many iconic moments from the moon landing in order to tell a more complete emotional narrative. For example, director Damien Chazelle himself stated that many scenes, such as the phone call with president Nixon, were also removed because of a conflict with the emotional theme. Overall, it is inappropriate that the film is being criticized, even though the controversy is unlikely to actually affect the quality of First Man.
All in all, the controversy over First Man shows that politics should not be in movies or the entertainment industry as a whole. Chazelle crafted an emotional story about the sacrifices that the astronauts in the Apollo 11 moon landing mission had to endure, specifically the challenges that Neil Armstrong had to overcome. The fact that First Man, a movie which has very little to do with politics, will be negatively affected by a controversy that is irrelevant to the overall quality of the movie only further reveals the harmful nature of politics in the entertainment industry.
In conclusion, political controversies and the political climate as a whole have no place in the entertainment industry. Politics making its way into other mediums will only have negative results, as demonstrated by this film. For First Man especially, a political controversy will most likely damage the high quality film. While it is understandable to have different opinions, and be defensive about them, today’s political scene is just too over the top. It’s time to separate our toxic political culture from other mediums. Otherwise, politics will be a detrimental force in any medium it finds itself in.