You don’t expect Hollywood to deal accurately with any complex global issue: case in point, the ludicrously over-praised drug movie Traffic, which took a very fine British miniseries on the same subject and twisted it into a pathetic comic book story with neo-Nazi Mexican drug lords, a suburban L.A. matron operating a cocaine cartel, and coke somehow molded into Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls to be smuggled across the Frontera.
But Sleeper Cell totally trumps Traffic in taking a complex issue and reducing it to a faux-Quentin Tarantino action farce with totally unbelievable characters behaving like no human being has in the entire recorded history of mankind. The writers and producers of Sleeper Cell evidently think by sprinkling a few “Asalaamaleikums” and “Allaho akbars” through the dialogue they are accurately portraying typical “Islamo-fascists.”
Would it were that easy.
Sleeper Cell’s plotters jabber fanatical diatribes, yell and scream at each other, concoct idiotic plans a child of 12 would reject as unrealistic, and do everything but march up and down Sunset Boulevard wearing six-foot-high black turbans and sandwich signs reading “Moslem Fanatic” to advertise their villainy. Since a show based around a bunch of weedy, quiet-as-mice Ay-rab conspirators who talk about arcane Koranic theological issues 18 hours a day while waiting for their bosses to say “Go” in some innocuously worded chatroom message would have about as much appeal as “Celebrity Moss Gardening,” the creators of the show have dreamed up a fantastical crew of angry African-American and hunky Wasp converts, gun-totin’ Middle Eastern gangstahs, and diabolical fanatics who do everything but twist their mustachios and kick dogs to show how evil they are. Their law-enforcement adversaries are heroic, conflicted double-agents and tough cops who shout racist insults as they beat “intell” out of suspects.
Actually, if you want to know why there is a War on Terror, you could do worse than sit through an episode or two of SC. The program’s ignorance of Islam and total contempt for same, its total lack of recognition that terrorists might actually have coherent motives for their activities, all do a lot to explain how we have turned a formerly friendly, moderate global Islamic community into an angry realm bubbling with resentment toward the United States. I wonder how many real life sleeper cells sit down in the evening across our nation to take in the latest episode of SC and hoot at the idiotic way they are portrayed while they eat pizza and swill chai, and then go back to the serious business of plotting our demise?