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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries - Too Sensitive or Too Much?

I recently stumbled upon a debate concerning the upcoming movie Chernobyl Diaries. Apparently there are some who believe that the horror film makes light of the tragedy that took place twenty six years ago this month. Others, however, scoffed and said this was just another case of political correctness gone array, and people were too sensitive.

Now I have not seen the movie in question, nor do I plan to (not a horror film buff in this household), but the debate got me thinking.

I am friends with a large number of Ukrainian immigrants and have heard numerous personal stories about that awful day. People told me about being evacuated from the capital of Kiev down the shore, or were sent into the countryside. Apparently the river used to cool the reactors continued to run through the site of the meltdown and was turned into beer further downstream, because no one really knew what was going on at first. Thanks to the Soviet government, we still have no idea how many people died that day, and how many died as an immediate result of radiation exposure. There are some estimates, however, that point to one million cancer related deaths in the years that followed.

Radiation, dirty bombs, and nuclear warfare have been the subjects of many movies over the years, and in the eyes of many, this is just one more. I am not a particularly politically correct person, though that is a discussion for another day, but I find myself agreeing more with the side arguing against the film.

Yes, Hollywood has made movies about tragedies in the U.S. There have been plots based on radiation testing zones here, or real serial killers, but this was not a small tragedy. Would people be ok with a horror movie based around the ghosts of the Oklahoma City bombing? Or the World Trade Center? People were upset with the rapid response of Hollywood to 9/11, but even those movies were meant as a memorial to the victims. You cannot say the same thing about Chernobyl Diaries.

Why is this movie ok? Prypiat and the surrounding areas are still abandoned. Chernobyl is still a tragedy that affects the lives of people in the former USSR. Is it just that it didn’t happen here?

I like to think that social media has made the world smaller. That we can now reach out and talk in real time to people on the other side of the world. With this maybe we treat world tragedies as our own tragedies, and can be a bit more creative with movie plots than just ripping off headlines.

I am still open to discussion on this - what do you think about movies spoofing off tragedies like this? Too sensitive or too much?

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