Off Limits…Are You Kidding Me?


*Warning: Film spoiler ahead: Non-Stop

I’ll apologize right off the bat because this post is a bit repetitive in that I’m ‘ranting’ about censoring the writer again. A couple of things happened just after my post on this issue which lit up my nerve endings on the topic, and I wanted to open it for discussion again. One of them is hardly earth shattering. The other, for writers and other artists, is horrifying.

One of my favorite genres is the thriller so when I saw trailers for Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop, I knew I’d check it out. When it came to town, I enjoyed a night with “Liam” and mentioned it on social media. That solicited this exchange with a friend:

Friend: I’m a Liam fan, but heard it might rub people the wrong way.

Me: Okay, before I say anything…what have you heard would “rub people the wrong way”?

Friend: According to one online source and they say–spoiler alert–that it deals with some hypothetical someone from 9/11 retaliating by “hi-jacking” the plane and potentially killing passengers.

Friend: So, your take? & was this source wrong?

It’s not wrong, and frankly, I thought that part of the premise weak, trying too hard for a twist. Things the victims of 9/11 might do as a result of trauma are only limited by the human psyche, which as we all know can be truly creative. However, I’m thinking the last thing a victim of 9/11 would use for their revenge would be a plane. Just my opinion.

The problem with anyone taking offense at the perpetrator being a 9/11 victim is there is an assumption that no one impacted by 9/11 had mental issues going in. Not a likely scenario given the numbers of mentally ill in this country and the numbers impacted by 9/11. In Non-Stop, the hijacker’s “excuse” is the loss of a parent in 9/11. Here’s another issue. The perpetrator was also a former soldier. There are a lot of people who would take issue with that. Yet, Fort Hood is only one example of a soldier  going rogue and killing innocent people.

If we begin to censor who can be the bad guy in a film, who is off-limits? Why? Make the teacher the killer – the teacher’s union goes nuts, make the pilot the killer and the pilot’s association gets angry, and on and on we go. We have to seriously lighten up. AND we need to address our complete disregard of the mentally ill in this country.

The second and far more serious issue that caught my attention was this article on the number of men being sent to prison for murders they may or may not have committed, and the fact that the evidence used against them was their rap lyrics. We’re not talking confessions put to music. We’re talking generic, violent gangsta rap being used to convict people. I’m not here to argue their guilt or innocence. However, if the justice system can’t convict them on real evidence, the justice system isn’t doing its job. I can’t count the number of times I say, “I’m a writer. I kill people for a living.” Now, I’m a target? Every time I’m in the vicinity of a dead body (thank God that hasn’t happened yet) am I the perp?

As if writers don’t take enough heat from their inner critics and the external critics (agents, editors, reviewers, readers, etc.) now we have to worry when we sit down to write that our story line might accidentally get played out somewhere and we’ll land in an interrogation room to explain it? This is not about cop bashing because they have a tough job to do. This is about the slippery slope we got on when we began the PC business. We should always be respectful. But our first duty is honesty. It is best if both can happen. But in a PC world where your lyrics get you 50 to life, neither happens.

Sound off. Does this latest trend frighten you?

One small note about Non-Stop: It’s a great ride, fast paced and fun. Reviewers talked about the believability factor. I’m cautious with this these days. In the year 2000, we would have laughed at a film about terrorists gaining access to US domestic flights and flying them into US targets. We have to exercise caution when we say something could never happen. If 9/11 taught us nothing else, it taught us that.

 

 

 

 

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