Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Why You Shouldn't Be Surprised by the Muddled Politics of "World War Z"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik March 30, 2013 at 2:40PM

Some folks around the web are shocked and astonished -- astonished! -- that word comes from Brad Pitt that the political subtext of "World War Z," the actor's upcoming apocalyptic epic, has been neutered. In an interview from Entertainment Weekly that has been oft-quoted, Pitt says, "I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking, 'What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this?... But it was just too much. We got bogged down in it.... It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be." But come on, folks, aside from the occasional "V for Vendetta," when has Hollywood ever provided penetrating social critique?
4

Some folks around the web are shocked and astonished -- astonished! -- that word comes from Brad Pitt that the political subtext of "World War Z," the actor's upcoming apocalyptic epic, has been neutered. In an interview from Entertainment Weekly that has been oft-quoted, Pitt says, "I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking, 'What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this?... But it was just too much. We got bogged down in it.... It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be." But come on, folks, aside from the occasional "V for Vendetta," when has Hollywood ever provided penetrating social critique?

World War Z

It doesn't take much time to dig up the weighty political themes that could have existed in a film adaptation that didn't emerge from Hollywood's middlebrow system. According to Wikipedia, there are several loaded political moments in the book and criticisms of government bureaucracy and ineptitude, with comparisons to Hurricane Katrina and now, you can bet, pundits will be adding Bengazi, Libya to the list.

Alden Utter, a reviewer for The Eagle, writes, "Early warnings are missed, crucial reports go unheeded, profiteers make millions selling placebos, the army equips itself with tools perfect for the last war they fought and populations ignore the extent of threat until it is staring them in the face — this is, surprisingly, a post-Katrina zombie tale."

Max Brooks, the author of "World War Z," has admitted that he wanted to criticize the "national flaws" of "isolationism." "Yes, in 'World War Z' some nations come out as winners and some as losers, but isn't that the case in real life as well? I wanted to base my stories on the historical actions of the countries in question, and if it offends some individuals, then maybe they should reexamine their own nation's history."

Like many Hollywood offerings that traffic in political themes, I'll bet we're in store for a similarly muddled political perspective as "The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's ideological hodgepodge that combines harsh critiques of anarchist collectives with direct attacks on the capitalist and corrupt societal elite. Hollywood always has its cake, and devours it, too: That's how they sell the most tickets imaginable, by appealing across a broad spectrum, and combining so many ideas that everyone can walk away feeling like they got what they wanted.

My guess is that "World War Z" will be pitched and/or criticized as either an attack on neoliberal economic geopolitics or, alternately, as a Tea-Party-esque warning against Big Government. Either way, everyone wins--or loses, depending on your point of view.

This article is related to: Anti-Hollywood, Brad Pitt

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Aminath Shaneez : Prosecutor General has repeatedly said that he and his famiky is under threat. All judges are under threat at the same time. As I hear the…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 10:22pm

By Niccolo Ungaro: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Niccolo Ungarp: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Abdul Majid: President Nasheed is our only hope for democracy in my country. This country cannot go forward with him in jail. Please help secure his…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 7:46am

By imran: As a maldivian myself I call upon the international community to fight against the fabricated accusations Against president nasheed.the real…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 5:12am

By Ahmed Aslam: I support president Nasheed! He has been jailed and tortured several times over the last 25 years fighting for democracy and human rights

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 4:38am

By Ahmed Iyaz: President Mohamed Nasheed is the only President who gave Maldivians freedom of expression. I'm totally against of unlawful arrest of him and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:58am

By Eugene Jarecki: I lend my voice passionately to this cause. It is of the utmost importance.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:03am

By Ahmed: Former President Nasheeds regime was a disaster to Maldives. A real dictator. Forcefuly arrested the Chief Judge at midnight while sleeping…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:06am

By Mohamed Salih Hassan: Former President Mohamed Nasheed should get fair trial. Call current govt of Maldives to hear majority of people's voice.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:01am