“13 Hours” is about to make our politics much, much stupider

January 15, 2016 In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 997



If you’re like me, you have zero intention of seeing 13 Hours, Michael Bay’s new right-wing fantasy porn flick. Maybe, like me, you’ve sat through four incomprehensible Transformers movies (owing to a borderline masochistic need to stay up on pop culture) and thought, “The only thing that could possibly make these worse is if they carried a more overt and deceptive endorsement of Republican conspiracy theory.”

However, like me you might have concerns about the effect it might have on our upcoming election. So I give you a handy guide to the coded messaging of 13 Hours, from Matt Gertz at Media Matters, the hero who watched this thing so we won’t have to.

President Obama is barely a presence in 13 Hours, and the film never mentions Hillary Clinton. But it’s full of the kind of dog-whistles that are engineered to appeal to conservative moviegoers who have been imbibing conspiracy theories about Benghazi for years.

Gertz lays out key myths reinforced by the fictional narrative in Bay’s film:

  • That the government could have provided aid to the Americans under attack at Benghazi, but refused to do so for inexplicable-but-nefarious reasons
  • That special forces troops who were ready and wanted to rush to Benghazi were ordered to stand down
  • That something as simple as a fighter jet fly-over would have sufficed, but stubborn government officials wouldn’t do it
  • That there was no reason, other than outright deception, for the Obama administration’s early explanation of the attack as linked to protests against an anti-Islamic YouTube video

None of these things are true, of course. But the beautiful thing is that by concocting a narrative and serving it up as Hollywood entertainment, Michael Bay is “informing” thousands, possibly millions, of Republican voters–who, like most Americans, have a hard time distinguishing entertainment fiction from reality–about “the real story” of the Benghazi attack.

I hope you’re ready for a renewed fervor from your aunts and uncles on Facebook, who will return from the multiplex newly confident that Hillary and Obama hate the troops so much they intentionally allowed Libyans to murder them, and then lied about it on television.

My suggestion? When you do encounter this, ask those experts about the administration’s secret plan to resurrect Megatron. That has about as much basis in reality.

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