“United 93” may touch too raw an emotional nerve for some moviegoers, but political conservatives have latched onto the pic, hoping that Paul Greengrass‘ vivid re-creation of the events of Sept. 11 bolsters support for President Bush‘s war on terrorism.
Marketing “United 93” has been a delicate proposition for Universal, but the studio courted conservative commentators in the weeks before the film’s April 28 release. (A rep for U said the studio didn’t single out rightwing pundits in its campaign. “We showed it to a lot of people,” but added, “It seemed like it would be a natural fit, if they do endorse something, they have a large following and listenership.”)
Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Prager were both invited to advance screenings, and subsequently gave the film politicized endorsements.
U has also been reaching out to churchgoers, hiring Motive Entertainment, a Christian marketing firm, to distribute “United 93 Resource Guides,” which include sermons inspired by the film.
The materials play up the notion of loving one’s enemies, and resisting the urge for retaliation; one sermon is titled “Leaving Vengeance with God.”
But the radio hosts see “United 93” as a battle cry.
“The overwhelming emotion I had was sheer anger at the terrorists, bordering on hatred,” Limbaugh said in his review. “This movie is going to refocus, for those who see it, the exact reason we are in the war on terror.”
Prager took the rhetoric one step further, questioning the patriotism of anyone who does not see “United 93.”
“Apparently many Americans are not ‘ready’ to see a film about 9/11 ‘so soon’ after 9/11. If this is so, it is an ode to the weakening of the American people,” he wrote in his syndicated column.
Urging younger teens to see the R-rated pic (if they get nightmares, “comfort them,” is his advice), Prager added, “I believe it is just about every American’s duty to see this film.”
Greengrass was interviewed by Limbaugh and said he hoped his film would lead to a “consensus” on how to fight terrorism.
But Limbaugh was having none of that meeting of minds.
“They (the passengers) didn’t take a vote on that plane,” he said. “They set out, had a plan, and they executed it, and the portrayal of that in this movie is inspirational. You just want to stand up and cheer.”