Monday, January 14, 2008

The Inchon Backlash: Blame America First

Sun Myung Moon is fond of financing project that turn out to be financial albatrosses (not a problem when you make billions off of the gullibility of people). The Washington Times is one good example; Moon has dumped over three billion dollars into this dubious venture and after 25 years, the paper is viewed as a joke by serious journalists.

I have written previously about Moon's attempt to become a film producer. The result: the 1982 film Inchon. The film was almost universally panned by critics and audiences. The only notable person I could find who liked the film was then-president Reagan (quick note: The Washington Times was Reagan's preferred newspaper).

The movie is godawful. K. Gordon Neufeld, a former Unificationist and author of a poignant memoir about his experiences in the cult, gave some compelling reasons for the film was a flop:
. . . [T]otalist ideologies are inherently shallow; they see things in simplistic terms, and any contradictions are simply ignored or explained away with doublethink. A script written from such a viewpoint would lack subtlety and would contain inherent contradictions that the writer would feel he or she dare not examine or even acknowledge. Some of the best European writers of the last century were former Communists who abandoned their ideology in later years: George Orwell, for example, or Arthur Koestler. They were able to produce fine works only after they left their ideology behind.
I would add that totalist ideologies like Unificationism also lack the ability to attribute failure to the inherent weakness of their ideas. Cult leaders like Moon are isolated from reality by sycophants who tell the Leader that his failures are due to external factors. When Moon was convicted of tax fraud and conspiracy, his followers claimed religious persecution and racism (Moon even created a front group,The National Committee Against Religions Bigotry and Racism). Likewise, when American moviegoers stayed away from Inchon in droves (despite a sweepstakes promotion with a million dollar prize), Moon blamed it on the religious bigotry of the American people. Moon took out full-page ads in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, consisting of open letters to the American people. Here is the transcript of the letter:

I note with sorrow how motion picture critics have reacted to the new film "Inchon." Most press coverage, including reviews, seems to emphasize the credit of Sun Myung Moon as the film's Special Adviser instead of dealing with the merits of the production itself.

But what saddens me most is that this should happen in the United States which is, and always has been, the champion of freedom of religion. To judge a motion picture--or any art form--by the religious convictions of the people who produce that art does not reflect the true American spirit.

I urge the public to make its own decision concerning "Inchon." I consider it both a privilege and an honor to have participated with the producer in bringing to the motion picture audience a film so poignantly depicting the spirit of MacArthur--and the spirit of America.

[signed] Sun Myung Moon


Kenneth Gordon Neufeld said...

I wrote those comments about how ideologues tend to produce bad art when another notorious cult, The Church of Scientology, induced one of its most famous members (John Travolta) to produce the horrendous movie "Battlefield Earth", which was so bad it nearly approached "Inchon" in its awfulness. At the time, one person who responded to my comments said that I had misrepresented George Orwell. I may have too broadly labelled Orwell as a former Communist. He was certainly a hard-line leftist for much of his career, but he was also a virulent anti-Stalinist. In any case, my point still stands. Ideologues create bad art. The question remains, as with the Washington Times: Where does Moon get all this money to waste on vanity projects? Is he laundering money for Asian crime syndicates? The vast quantity of money he has wasted on unprofitable projects is astounding and inexplicable.

John Gorenfeld said...

According to the press kit, Gen. MacArthur smiled down from heaven on the casting of the elderly Sir Olivier as middle-aged MacArthur and promised, "I will do everything in my power to help this movie succeed." It only grossed $5,200.