Will Be Disappointed with "Saving Jessica Lynch"
- Except the Audience
By Steve Young
Now that "The Reagans" is out of the way, banished to Showtime
sometime "in the future," (gee, if they wanted to make sure
no one saw it why didnít they just air it on UPN?), let's
move on to the next hot political film controversy, NBC's
"Saving Jessica Lynch."
Advertised by NBC as "based on the true story behind the
ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company, and the dramatic
rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch," SJL, written by veteran screenwriter
John Fasano ("Tombstone," "Darkness Falls," "Another 48 Hours"),
will certainly set off some sort of divisive political debate.
After all, it's about a divisive war. Or is it?
After I attended a full screening (to their credit, NBC
did not see fit to send out an eight-minute clip to radio
talk shows) of "Saving Jessica Lynch," I come to the
conclusion that political operatives and pundits from every
side of the aisle will surely be disappointed. SJL is not
political at all.
For those who pre-screamed that this would make a hero out
of Jessica Lynch, they will discover only a scared teenager
dealing with an unimaginable but all too real nightmare.
For those on the left who said that it will be a military
recruitment ad, anyone who considers enlistment after seeing
SJL does so only after getting a pretty horrific glimpse of
war's hell (at least as much as TV censors would allow). Any
parent who lets their child enlist after seeing SJL and does
so without getting physically sick is a stronger man than
For those on the right who said that this would be anti-soldier,
they will have to ignore the courage of every grunt and officer
involved in the rescue.
For those who believe that this would be anti-Iraqi, they
will find that without the daring of Iraqis, there would be
no story, nor film, nor possibly a still-living and breathing
For those who asked why even make "Saving Jessica Lynch"
without the input of the actual Jessica Lynch, read the title.
It says "Saving" not "About."
For those who might shy away from the gore bullets and missiles
spawn, know that SJL spares a visual bloodbath without excising
the terror. Note to Quentin: See the first twenty minutes
of SJL and save a bundle on the carnage budget for "Kill Bill
For those that said this will be a pro-Bush film, neither
he nor anyone in his administration is mentioned except that
the White House was aware of a rescue being attempted.. And
for those who believed that there would be way too many ecstatic
Iraqis greeting us with showers of flowers, thrilled to have
us there, they will be happy to know that these U.S. soldiers
don't face floral assaults.
For those who said that this would be Bush hatchet job,
know that not a politician is in sight nor is any debate over
WMD, aluminum tubes or nation-building.
At best "Saving Jessica Lynch" may come off as anti-war
but never anti-soldier; a story of real risks and real fears
pulled off amazingly well for a so-called television movie.
SJL is an account of people, not nations; of the terror of
war, not the right or wrong of getting into one.
For those who were hoping that the facts coming out of SJL
would become grist for the talk radio mill, you'll be disappointed.
Then again, when did a talk show need facts to create a controversy?
Steve Young is an award-winning television writer and author
("Great Failures of the Extremely Successful," Tallfellow
Press) as well as film correspondent for BBC radio.