Some in Hollywood seem to believe that history and the truth should be alterable, reversible or deniable so that they may view it through the prism of their present-day biases.
However, most people would agree that neither history nor facts should ever be changed to benefit one political party over another, or one community over another.
I thought about that truth when reading some of the negative reviews and criticism directed at “Ford v Ferrari,” the movie starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.
One progressive site attacked it with the headline, “‘Ford v Ferrari’ is the climate change horror film nobody needed.” It added that the movie is laced with “xenophobia” as well as “white masculinity.”
A Bloomberg News author criticized the movie as well, writing that it was a “devastating picture of the lack of diversity that permeated the [automobile] industry in the 1960s.” The author added, “When I say ‘men,’ I mean white, straight men … Ford v Ferrari shows a generation best left dead and gone.”
In other words, human beings who, with no say in the matter, happened to be born white men, fought in World War II and grew to love cars, racing, and business are “best left dead and gone.”
The hit film being criticized for its “white masculinity” takes place between 1959 and 1966, chronicling and celebrating the collaborative effort between acclaimed race-car designer and driver Carroll Shelby, Hall of Fame English race-car driver Ken Miles, Henry Ford II, and the various teams, executives, and employees supporting them in their epic battle to break Ferrari’s dominance of the famed 24 Hours of Lemans race.
They were — as recorded by history — white men.
To be sure, that same history also dutifully reminds us that during the time period depicted in Ford v Ferrari, rampant discrimination was directed at women, minorities, and the LBGTQ community. All of it was reprehensible. Much of it was cruel, illegal, and quite tragic.
But what, now, would satisfy those on the left criticizing a film made in 2019 for its historically accurate — and needed — depiction of the white men involved in the story from that time?
Should the film have never been made? Should the actual history of that moment be censored because it offends the sensitivities of some on the left today? Should white male Carroll Shelby have been played by a female actor named “Carol”? Should male Ken Miles have been played by Danica Patrick? Should the Ford GT 40 and the Ferrari have been replaced by a hybrid Prius and a Chevy Volt?
At what point do some of the more reasoned voices in Hollywood speak out against this criticism?
Matt Damon and Christian Bale — in Academy Award-deserving roles — are openly, proudly liberal in real life. Do they have a duty to defend the movie they made?
History is history and facts are facts. No matter how offensive they may be to some, they should never be censored, changed, or denied for anyone or any side.
In 2012, Steven Spielberg came under some criticism for reimagining certain scenes of Civil War history in his movie “Lincoln.” Changes, which some believed, reflected his politically correct viewpoint of 2012 and not the realities and actual history encountered by President Lincoln during that nation-shattering time.
I say that as someone who knows Steven Spielberg to be one of the most decent, giving, and thoughtful people ever. In 1998, when I was director of communications for former Sen. Bob Dole — who was chairman of the World War II Memorial — we were desperate to get any donations to help fund the groundbreaking ceremony for that now-beloved World War II Memorial.
Hollywood slammed door after door in our face. The industry collectively made hundreds of millions from depicting World War II, but could care less about the memorial. I asked Dole if I could reach out to Spielberg, who had just made “Saving Private Ryan.” The senator thought it might be another “slammed door,” but told me to try.
When I reached Spielberg’s office, I mentioned that if we could just get an eighth of the amount needed, it would be a huge help in securing the rest. Spielberg cut right to the chase. “How much is the entire amount?” he wanted to know. I told his office the groundbreaking would cost almost $650,000.
The next day, Spielberg sent a a personal check to my attention for the entire amount.
Aside from being incredibly kind and generous, Spielberg is also one of the most respected, accomplished, and powerful filmmakers on the planet. As such, he more than anyone, knows the power of movies to influence.
Because of that, he must ultimately know that no movie should bend, shape, or deny history to reflect a partisan or personal point of view contrary to actual history. It’s wrong, and it’s dangerous.
Spielberg himself became “overly sensitive” to criticism from the left at one point and censored guns out of his own movie, “E.T.,” before reversing himself. He called it a knee-jerk reaction “I lived to regret.”
Ford v Ferrari is a slice of history. History which should not be changed nor denied to appease the “overly sensitive.”
It is exceptional filmmaking and acting, and it should be vigorously defended by all in Hollywood.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. He is the author of the novel, “The North Pole Project – In Search of the True Meaning of Christmas.“
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.