I’ve been on the road all day, only stopping periodically to see what the buzz is all about, and each time the weirdest headline kept grabbing me, “Chazelle’s First Man is un-American! Ryan Gosling Defends Film”. Mind blown over what the Hell this could possibly be about, I found out that some were claiming his film, which depicts Neil Armstrong’s historic flight to the moon, doesn’t show the unforgettable moment when he plants the American flag. And of course, this is an outrage. Or at least it’s a Twitter outrage, not a real one.
You’ve probably seen the screaming, angry rhetoric as well, mostly from conservatives like Bill “I’ve never been right about anything” Kristol,and Florida senator Marco Rubio who calls it “total lunacy”, neither of whom has actually seen the film. So what’s the truth?
The truth is that First Man does have the American flag in it throughout. But does it have that iconic moment when Armstrong actually plants the flag? No, it doesn’t. Is this somehow a “politically correct” way to paint this uniquely American moment? Not at all, but a creative choice by director Damien Chazelle who wanted to focus on the parts of Armstrong’s life that we haven’t seen a thousand times before. Here’s part of his statment…
“I wanted the primary focus in that scene to be on Neil’s solitary moments on the moon — his point of view as he first exited the LEM, his time spent at Little West Crater, the memories that may have crossed his mind during his lunar EVA.”
Seems reasonable to me, so what was it that caused this Twitter shit storm? Probably some comments by Gosing during a press conference, specifically these…
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
“So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”
Because we’re talking about Twitter outrage, and faux-conservative outrage at that, of course this was blown out of proporation and slanted to mean that Chazelle was trying to strip America of this incredible feat. That’s obviously absurd, even for a movie that will play globally, but you can see how Gosling opened the film up to criticism. I’m sure he was just trying to talk to the audience, and since he was at the Venice Film Festival it was a gaggle of international press.
The take home from this debacle? Maybe it’s best to watch the movie before you shit all over it. Oh, and Neil Armstrong’s sons? They don’t think the film is anti-American in the least. See their statement below. [Deadline]