- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2018

“First Man,” the movie that was supposed to showcase the historical greatness of the first man to walk the moon, Neil Armstrong — but that omitted the triumphant and patriotic planting of the flag of record from the very country that made this greatness possible, America — has suffered a bit of a red face with its opening weekend ticket sales.

Sales were projected at $21 million but came in short, at $16.5 million. Let the excuses and explanations begin.

The backstory is this: When lead actor Ryan Gosling was asked why the movie-makers purposely omitted the famous scene of American astronauts Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the U.S. flag atop the moon’s surface, he told the Telegraph the achievement “transcended countries and borders, and that’s how we chose to view it.”


Except the achievement was distinctly American, coming as it did not only from American astronauts and technological geniuses — but also at a time when America was involved in a very contentious, very competitive space race with the evil then-U.S.S.R.

America’s flag plant was symbolic of America’s massive greatness — of America’s win on the world scale.

And now the “First Man” movie doesn’t seem to be meeting expectations on the sales front?

You don’t say.

From Deadline: “If you believe those who say ‘First Man’ was hurt by Ryan Gosling’s ‘globalist’ defense of director Damien Chazelle’s decision not to depict astronaut Neil Armstrong’s planting of an American flag on the moon — and the Internet is crawling with those who make that claim — then Gosling’s explanation cost up to $45,000 a word this [past] weekend.”

How so?

Again, from Deadline: “At the Venice Film Festival in late August, Gosling, who is Canadian, spoke about 100 words in defending the flag-planting omission. ‘I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,’ he said: ‘From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.’ “

Maybe it was the popularity of other movies making their debut that dampened tickets sales for “First Man” — maybe it wasn’t.

What’s clear, though, is that “First Man” needlessly went out of its way to leave out one of America’s most iconic historical images — and in these Make America Great Again days, that was a foolhardy decision.

It was a missed moment to get aboard the patriotic resurgence, the “America First” mindset, President Donald Trump has ushered into the political world.

But more than that it was a definite face-slap to not only those Americans of the country who witnessed first hand, on television, the real flag-plant, but also to those of more moderns days who are sick and tired of leftists in Hollywood twisting and turning history to fit their personal progressive-minded agendas.

Fact is, America’s flag was the first to find its way to the moon — and that was due entirely to the greatness of America and the ingenuity of Americans. “First Man” ought to have reflected that basic fact. If it had, maybe the announcing of the movie’s opening weekend ticket sales may not have had to come hand-in-hand with explanations and excuses and clarifications. 

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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