The recent Sunset Strip launch party for the film Captivity got a lot of mileage by preening about being insouciantly, blatantly politically incorrect.
My Los Angeles Times column about the film took exception to the ad campaign for the film, which opened Friday the 13th. The somber language tried to make Captivity sound like a public service warning rather than a torture-porn movie by noting grandiosely that 850,000 people are reported missing in the United States each year, and that "many'' of them are "never seen again.''
It's a fact that more than 830,000 people were reported missing last year; it's also a fact that almost all of them soon turn up again, unharmed. The ''missing'' reports are almost entirely generated by family misunderstandings, by the confused aftermath of some catastrophe, by romantic arguments that send people stomping off to stay with family or friends, or -- in the case of kids -- because a relative or non-custodial parent is holding onto the child.
So this ad campaign was strictly about working up people into a fear frenzy -- my God, maybe what happens in that movie could happen to me, so I'd better go see it to be prepared. If this performed some public service, then Californians should prepare for a real earthquake by watching the movie Earthquake.
The party promised cages and torture rooms, and oh yawn, half-naked girls in leather and chains and black tape. Who can't find that on any weekend in Hollywood?
But to characterize it -- and by inference the movie it promoted -- as ''politically incorrect''? Political incorrectness is about skewering pretensions and self-importance. Since when have kidnapping, torture and murder been demoted from vicious crimes to merely "politically incorrect'' conduct -- and therefore anyone who objects is obviously a humorless stiff?
Probably at about the same time when kidnapping, torture and murder became just another means for Hollywood fun and profit, which is probably a few years after the Kinescope appeared. It's just a shame that, as the technology gets better, the content doesn't.