Airline Film: A Censorship Diary

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  1. Abishai100
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    Abishai100 VIP Member

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    Since today is the anniversary of 9/11, here's a media-intrigue yarn (my last one!) inspired by the films Clear and Present Danger and Munich.

    Cheers,




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    Franklin Carter was an aspiring airline pilot working for Pan Am airlines. The year was 1973, and following the terrorism at the Munich Olympics, the world was on edge about anti-globalization sentiments in this new age of networking and commerce. Franklin was not only a pilot but also a secret masked vigilante by night known as 'Batman.' Franklin pursued anti-American terrorists as Batman, flying in his tear-gas grenade-launching 'bat-jet' over the skies of the Middle East. No one knew Batman was actually Franklin Carter, so Franklin complemented his democracy-crusade with submitted color-pencil stick-figure drawings of Batman and a hypothetical patriotic Pan Am pilot named Bruce.

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    As Franklin's popularity grew, so did the appeal of his Bruce-Batman stick-figure doodles which were now being published in New Yorker Magazine as 'testaments' of modernism idealism towards anti-terrorism and pro-globalization politics/consciousness. Plus, parents showed these doodles to their kids, and they gained a following among American youngsters and the doodles were shown on the Johnny Carson Show, and Franklin was even invited to the show to comment on them and his views on terrorism and patriotism in general.

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    As Pan Am continued to develop more and more sophisticated passenger airplanes, including one impressive 707-120 plane designed for passenger flights between the United Kingdom and Australia, Franklin Carter continued doubling as a Pan Am pilot by day and the flying-vigilante Batman by evening. Franklin/Batman pursued various Middle Eastern terrorist groups over the next three years, following leads and helping the CIA apprehend an ominous radical Muslim terrorist leader named Ben Hamin.

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    Ben Hamin confessed to the authorities that his terrorist group intended to destroy the newly-planned twin Commerce Towers in Washington, D.C. Hamin explained that the Commerce Towers represented to fundamentalist-Muslims the 'evils' of new age globalization and the biases of capitalists endorsing the post-WWII established nation of Israel in preference over the nation-state of Palestine. Hamin's group wanted to destroy the Commerce Towers to make new 'headways' into Palestinian-rights negotiations regarding OPEC.

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    Ben Hamin's testimonies caused quite a stir in those years and the New Yorker Magazine began publishing a series of pencil-drawings of Ben Hamin which 'complemented' the patriotic Bruce-Batman stick-figure doodles of Franklin Carter. Franklin/Batman worried that these new Ben Hamin pencil-sketches would create too much media attention for anti-capitalism sentiments and lead to different forms of anti-Muslim sentiments among the American people. He also worried that these published sketches of Ben Hamin (complete in terrorist-uniforms/outfits) would 'incite' anti-Western terrorists cynical about American media and magazines.

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    Franklin decided to approach a federal advocate in D.C. and ask him about procedures necessary to critique the sketch-submissions of Hamin the terrorist. The advocate/lawyer explained that such criticism may involve a serious addressing of the issue of censorship in modern media, and Franklin realized that all this commerce/traffic intrigue and terrorism-concern would create a good deal of dogma fury. Franklin/Batman wondered if Ben Hamin had unwittingly created a sort of 'censorship dialogue' in Western media.

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    As Franklin/Batman continued his anti-terrorism 'crusade,' a Hollywood (USA) film-maker named Arthur Lumet decided to adapt Franklin Carter's doodle-spirited submissions to the New Yorker Magazine, and the patriotic-stir they caused, into a full-length dramatized pseudo-fictional film about a Pan Am pilot who secretly doubled as the anti-terrorism vigilante Batman. Franklin happily approved of the film-concept, and Lumet began filming in 1976. An unknown actor named James Cruise was cast as the pilot/vigilante Bruce Wayne. The film was called Airway Mission, and it would spawn a series of patriotic films about American forays into globalization-traffic leading all the way into the new millennium, including a narcotics-CIA traffic intrigue film called American Made, starring James Cruise's celebrity-son Tom Cruise.

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    The role of Ben Hamin in Airway Mission was given to a rising Algerian-American actor named Mohammed Kateb who enthusiastically embraced the role and considered it an opportunity to hype not only the creative work of Pan Am's own Franklin Carter but also the growing sociopolitical concern regarding East-West tensions in the Middle East and the impact on OPEC-negotiations. Airway Mission was nominated for Best Picture but lost to John G. Avildsen's patriotic small-time boxing-contender film Rocky. However, Kateb earned the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Ben Hamin in Airway Mission.

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    After this Oscar-win for Arthur Lumet, Johnny Carson stated on his show that he thought that the Ben Hamin terrorist-sketches in the New Yorker Magazine should simply be yanked, and that spawned a huge censorship discussion in the press. Meanwhile, Franklin Carter began circulating images of a new superhero, a magnetism-manipulating character named Magneto who would use his power to bring down terrorist-planes seeking to destroy the Commerce Towers in Washington, D.C. Franklin/Batman also continued fighting radical terrorists in the Middle East. All the censorship talk regarding the Hamin-terrorist sketches in the New Yorker prompted U.S. President Jimmy Carter to say in the press, "We Americans crave more politics-consciousness films such as Airway Mission, The Conformist, and The Candidate."

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    CARTER: I do believe media-intrigue is positive, but let's avoid hysteria!
    JOURNALIST: Are you a fan of Franklin Carter's Bruce-Batman doodles.
    CARTER: Yes, kids love them, and there was a relevant Yale lecture about the New Yorker.
    JOURNALIST: Perhaps media is becoming more 'intrigue-operatic.'
    CARTER: Americans care about free-speech and dialogue...
    JOURNALIST: What is your opinion about Ben Hamin?
    CARTER: I believe Hamin is representative of modern political tremors!
    JOURNALIST: Do you think American intelligence can keep pace with the Middle East?
    CARTER: Yes, I have full confidence in the Pentagon.
    JOURNALIST: What if terrorists destroy the Commerce Towers in Washington?
    CARTER: I'm confident we'll have patriots like Franklin and soldiers like Batman!
    JOURNALIST: Do you think vigilantism is warranted in the field of terrorism?
    CARTER: We're looking for patriots, not madmen, so we go on a case-by-case basis.
    JOURNALIST: Do you think Airway Mission should have won the Oscar?
    CARTER: Well, maybe, but personally, I'm a big fan of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone).
    JOURNALIST: Maybe media-vigor will safeguard us from 'censorship claustrophobia.'


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