By Ralph B. Kostant
Hedgehog readers are probably familiar with Billy Zane (center, photo at left), who played Kate Winslet’s rich and evil fiancé in Titanic. And who can forget Gary Busey’s (right) portrayal of Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story? So what have those crazy boys been up to lately? Well, Turkish audiences are packing the theaters to see them in Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. Here is a quick plot synopsis drawn from a story about the film in The Jerusalem Post:
The Turkish film's arch villain is a rogue American officer, played by Billy Zane, who is a self-professed "peacekeeper sent by God." He and his men shoot up an Iraqi wedding party, killing the groom in the presence of the bride and a little boy in front of his mother. Gary Busey portrays a Jewish U.S. army doctor who cuts out the organs of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and sells them to wealthy foreign clients. The Busey character, listed only as The Doctor, is far removed from the Jewish stereotype in both appearance and manner, but hardly a credit to his heritage. At one point, he scolds American soldiers for shooting up the wedding guests "because it ruins their organs." In another scene, a group of apparent organ buyers includes a man clearly dressed as an Orthodox Jew. Even worse is the depiction of Zane's character, Sam William Marshall, as a psychopathic Christian fundamentalist, who can be kind to an Iraqi one moment and then kill him instantly. In the end, a Turkish commando unit tracks down Zane and his soldiers, and with the help of Iraqi fighters, wipes out the Americans in a bloody battle.
The film’s producers are marketing them film at the Berlin International Film Festival. It is already set for release in at least a dozen Arab and European countries, and the producers hope to release it in the United States as well. Given the recent Moslem reaction to the Danish political cartoons portraying Mohammed, one can imagine their reaction to a film depicting American soldiers murdering innocent Iraqi civilians and an American Jewish U.S. Army doctor who takes their organs and sells them.
Gary Busey’s attorney, Vickie Roberts, defended her client’s role in the film on Constitutional grounds. According to the Jerusalem Post:
“There is something in this country called the First Amendment that protectsWell, I am not surprised that an entertainment industry attorney was left speechless when asked about the moral and ethical implications of her client’s work. It is a sad, but inevitable fact that when American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere lay down their lives to protect our freedom, they likewise protect the freedom of Billy Zane, Gary Busey and Vickie Roberts. Yet the United States is in a war against Islamic Fascism, and one wonders if there are any legal limits on the activities of American citizens who give aid and comfort to the enemy.
freedom of expression," she said, "I hope we are not returning to the McCarthy
Roberts added, "If Gary played a rapist in a movie, would anyone
believe him to be an actual rapist? He is an actor, not a politician."
When asked about the moral and ethical implications of portraying an
anti-Semitic stereotype in a foreign movie, Roberts declined to comment.”
The Hedgehog adds: To call this behavior by Busey and Zane disappointing would be an understatement. Do they really think this is "just a job?" Is Vickie Roberts (Busey's attorney) seriously comparing criticism of her client's role in this film to McCarthyism?
Oh, please. As a lawyer, Ms. Roberts knows that taking on a client is a voluntary matter, except in exceedingly rare situations when a lawyer is court-appointed, and even then a lawyer may be excused from service. In my own legal career, I have refused to represent certain clients. Yes, it is true that lawyers are professionals and do not necessarily endorse their clients' views. But any lawyer who takes on a client recognizes that he or she will be associated with that client's case. Similarly, Zane and Busey are professionals, and they know they will be be associated with this film's message, to which they have devoted their talents and fame.
Maybe they thought no one in the West would notice. In today's world, that is a foolish hope. My own hope is that the careers of both Zane and Busey will be tarnished by their association with this movie.