Making light of tragedy

Turning real life events into films for entertainment is disrespectful

By Claire Fisher | 1/15/17 8:36pm


Explosions, a love story, an unquestionably heroic main character: these are typical elements that make up your average action movie. Are they appropriate though when you apply them to a “based on true events” story about a tragedy?

“Patriots Day,” a movie which follows the steps taken by law enforcement following the Boston Marathon bombing came into theaters on Friday, Jan. 13. Turning a tragedy into a one-sided action movie that the public can view for entertainment is a disrespectful and irresponsible way to record history.

I can’t say for certain what the proper amount of time is to wait before making a movie about a disastrous event, but three years doesn’t seem like enough time. Not only was the actual Boston bombing and its aftermath traumatic for the people of Boston, but now they have to relive it so that CBS Films and Lionsgate can make money.

Turning a tragedy into a blockbuster film so that Americans can fill up Saturday afternoons, enjoy giant tubs of popcorn, have awkward first dates and root for the “good guys” is a disgusting way to turn a profit.

I can respect the idea that the movie records a significant event in history and specifically details the work done by the law enforcement officials. A movie meant for entertainment is not an appropriate way to memorialize an event like the Boston Marathon bombing.

Along with “Lone Survivor” and “Deep Water Horizon,” the director Peter Burg and the actor Mark Wahlberg have worked together to create three films which record real-life tragedies. Turning history into a “docudrama” comes with a cost.

When you try to turn a complicated event in history like the Boston Marathon bombing, you inevitably paint somebody as the hero. The trailer for “Patriots Day” is full of an “us vs. them” mentality; it even has Mark Wahlberg’s character describing the situation as “good vs. evil.”

It’s possibly acceptable to paint that kind of picture into a movie about “evil” aliens attacking from another planet to come suck our brains out. But when you label other humans as evil and don’t show their side of the story, you disregard their beliefs entirely. I’m not condoning what the bombers did, I’m only saying that making an emotional movie that only records and glorifies one side of the story is irresponsible.

Not only does this movie disrespect the citizen’s rights and the perspectives of the Muslim characters, but it also neglects to tell any other stories. It gives major attention to a high profile tragedy and neglects to give attention to the shootings and violence that occur every day in many minority neighborhoods.

Taking a complicated piece of history and forcing it into the mold of the average action movie slices out important narratives and paints a single side as the hero. Documenting tragic events in the manner is both disrespectful and irresponsible.  

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