In a discussion with one of our readers, it was brought to my attention about this Mark Cuban fellow. Not being a devout sportologist (see Jimbo) and not from the D-FW area, I didn't have much background on the dude. But hey, his being a billionaire and all, you might think I'd come across him in reading all those WSJ articles. But I had not paid attention.
What did get my attention was the fact this guy bankrolled the current film Redacted, the Brian Depalma flick that Depalma ADMITS is 'sympathetic' and anti-Military in its scope. Thru Cuban's HDNET/Magnolia Films, he underwrote the Depalma flick, as well as ANOTHER 'suspect' film, The War Within.
These films, coming from a guy that started the Fallen Patriot Fund??
WTH is going on here?
I have to say- I'm completely baffled by this dude. On one hand, he actively promotes an anti-war, anti-troop movie like Redacted, and on the other tries to convince us this is a PRO-troop film. He, in his blog, comes across as a heavily patriotic person, but apparently has no problem showing films or backing projects that will, in every way, bring even more harm TO those troops he espouses to support.
From his blog on Sept 11th:
I don't ever want to take for granted what I have, what my family has and how fortunate we are.
Six years after September 11th, I wanted to also ask the question, what should we do for those who serve our country ?
The media/reports/blog writing that I looked at is all over the map- I don't think one can really pinpoint the guy. But, as my family always said, you can tell the flavor of a man by who he associates with. And how.
What would you think of me if I gave to or backed the Charles Manson Defense Fund?
In backing Redacted, Cuban admits he never even read the script or asked questions on its content- evidently, all he saw was 'Depalma' and 'film' and thru money at it. Not too much different than a lot of financiers in Hollywood (imagine anyone turning down Lucas or Spielberg on name alone?) Nice. But what has come back to bite him, hard, is the politics Depalma espouses. Cuban writes in his blog that he is 'apolitical'; I think this episode has brought him kicking and screaming into the political realm regardless of what his intentions were.
Surprisingly, I had a lengthy email dialog with Mr. Cuban (my thanks for your time, sir). In it, he reiterates his stance that he is very pro-troop, and says
"And for what its worth, I'm not a fan of his [Depalma's] either. ...I have never met the man. So I'm not going to pass judgement on what I don't know."
Also, from his website:
I actually have seen [Redacted] it and think it is an amazing movie. But to answer your question, I didn't read the script or know all that much about it before we greenlit it. As we do with several big name directors, we give them carte blanche in producing their movies.
This all got very interesting- I didn't get the feeling he was trying to defend the movies as much as he was frustrated with everyone thinking he has the same views as Depalma and his ilk. We exchanged on how the jihadists will likely use snippets of the films as propaganda; Mr. Cuban stated he did not see how, or why, any wanna-be would be influenced by such videos. What I emphasized to him was that the fundamentalist/propagandist uses these items not just of themselves, but as parts of a 'campaign' that will be totally out of context, and knowing that viewers will not have any access to the sources (movies) themselves; they will take it as it's given. And its not just what will get posted to the internet- they pass out cd's/dvd's all over the world- you can bet that portions/episodes of these films will be found in cache's in Afghanistan and Iraq in the months to come.
What I neglected to mention was how such imagery was used from the Abu Ghuraib debacle. That horrid imagery showed up everywhere on the jihadists' sites- as I knew it would when I first reviewed it.
From the Newsbusters.org website:
So, “Redacted” wasn't just a movie De Palma made to “stop the war,” it's an important part of Cuban's business plans. What better way to promote his new Pay Per View distribution feature than to use a highly controversial movie to draw attention?
This distribution network includes the HDNet channel and the ability to get pay-per-view HD content; apparently, using such controversy builds credibility? (The old saying 'no such thing as bad publicity). Why not do something far more people would want to see rather than just a slim slice of it? (ok, yes, I too am getting tired of the HD films on nature and the Titanic...)
Mr. Cuban, does this also excuse backing 'Loose Change'? (This is the 'Truther' film, to have been narrarated by Charlie Sheen, that tries to forward the conspiricy theories of 9/11). If ALL the films you have backed recently are stacked up, do you sense a pattern?
My main question to him was along the lines of this entry from Mr MacKinnon from the Houston Chronicle
Well, a couple of them, like Brian De Palma and Mark Cuban, make films that put our troops in the worst possible light. Their new film depicts the undeniably disgusting, criminal behavior of a handful of soldiers, and uses it as a political tool to go after the policies of President Bush while smearing more than 160,000 other troops in the process. How will De Palma and Cuban respond if their film inflames and incites Islamists in Iraq and around the world to kill more Americans?
And what of this quote from Reuters?
"So I was forced to fictionalize things that were actually real."
My question would then be- why bother? Use the real stuff and make a documentary. (That's what I'm attempting to do in a film I'm working on).
From an email to me:
Sorry to be such a cynic, but I still don't buy that their sites find
dvds, encode them, pull segments, re encode them and then host them on
sites for fundamentalists to use for motivation
I know they use propoganda every chance they get, but I am not sold that
they know who brian depalma is, I'm certain they don't who I am. So the
propoganda value isn't there
They have well known US politicians and worldwide known actors who are
more than enough fodder. -Mark Cuban
This, to me, speaks to the naiveté' that those not fully engaged in this war, have to deal with. I explained to him in a reply, "They don't care who you or Mr Depalma is- only that there is the material you make and that they can find a 'use' for it. Had I not experienced it myself, seen it with my own eyes, I would probably be even more skeptical than you."
Now, I have to ask him about The War Within which will probably draw as much fire as Redacted. Voices of Iraq was supposed to be the antithesis of both of these? If you are going to watch these, then again, I must emphasize you see Osama. IF you can stomach it.
Back MY film- no one will ever doubt your patriotism with this one!
Attention-grabbing or no, setting up films of this nature, with nothing else to 'balance' them, speaks volumes.
I'm just sayin...