- - Thursday, September 8, 2011

When the United States went to war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the film industry soon followed suit. Movies like “Flying Tigers” (1942), “Wake Island” (1942) and “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (1944) rallied the nation to the Allied cause.

Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda and Clark Gable personally joined the battle, while famed director Frank Capra oversaw “Why We Fight,” a series of films meant to inspire the troops.

Even Bugs Bunny did his part, with shorts like the provocatively titled “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips.”

Hollywood’s response to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent war on terrorism couldn’t be more different.

Studios initially avoided direct mention of radical Islam’s assault on the home front. An image of the twin towers was removed from a teaser poster for the 2002 film “Spider-Man.”

**FILE** Film director Michael Moore (center) chanted for Harvey Weinstein (not shown), head of Miramax films, to join him for a photo at the D.C. premiere of "Fahrenheit 9/11" on June 23, 2004. Celebrity superagent Ken Sunshine (left) joined in. (The Washington Times)
**FILE** Film director Michael Moore (center) chanted for Harvey Weinstein (not shown), ... more >

Later, when the industry finally decided to tackle the subject head-on, it cast a critical eye on America’s response to those attacks via “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004), “Lions for Lambs” (2007), “Rendition” (2007) and “Redacted” (2007), not the terrorists who perpetrated them.

What were you expecting? A “Rambo”-esque franchise chronicling a Taliban-killing hero?

Not a chance — not in a Hollywood that never fully recovered from post-Vietnam syndrome.

Yahoo! Movies executive producer Sean Phillips says filmmakers’ attitude toward U.S. military action began to change in the 1960s when soldiers started dying in the jungles of Vietnam.

Gary Cooper was out, and “layered, tortured heroes” were in, Mr. Phillips says.

Chalk it up to — take your pick — Hollywood’s politically correct mindset, its increasing reliance on the global market or plain old cowardice.

Conservative author and pundit Andrew Klavan says Hollywood’s blame-America-first reaction to 9/11 boils down to fear.

“[Moviemakers] just will not grasp this nettle for fear of looking like bigots,” Mr. Klavan says.

Not to mention fear of reprisals.

“Doing something that annoys Muslims may get you killed,” he says.

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