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The canceling of ‘They Are Us’, the film about the Christchurch massacre, is the right thing to do… for the wrong reason

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Last week, pre-production for the film ‘They Are Us’, which intended to dramatize New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the killing of 51 Muslim worshippers by a white supremacist in Christchurch in 2019, was shut down due to outrage from New Zealand’s Muslim community, which deemed the project “insensitive” and “obscene.”

The film, which had Rose Byrne set to star as Ardern, is now “on hold” and may have a difficult time exiting its self-induced purgatory. And maybe that’s for the best, at least for the time being.

I’m conflicted when it comes to this controversy, as I don’t believe that any group of people being offended, even righteously offended, by a film should ever stifle a project. But I also think that making a movie out of a recent tragedy is a bad idea, because it rarely produces worthwhile cinema.

Generally, when a movie rushes to recount a recent tragedy, it’s either cynically exploiting trauma to make a quick dollar, or it’s a piece of propaganda meant to manipulate the public.

In the case of ‘They Are Us’, it may very well be a combination of the two.

It’s highly curious to make a film focusing on a politician’s reaction to a recent real-life tragedy when that politician is still active in the political arena. It seems likely that ‘They Are Us’ would be cashing in on a horrific tragedy by making a two-hour campaign commercial for Jacinda Ardern, which doesn’t exactly sound very artistically compelling.


© RT.com

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