Heart & Soul

Today marks the opening of Disney’s America’s Heart & Soul, the film that Howard Kaloogian, chairman of Move America Forward says will leave you “with a very different feeling about America than when you leave Moore’s film,” Fahrenheit 9/11. Perhaps so.

The official synopsis of America’s Heart & Soul begins:

America is a vast country — three thousand miles from end to end. But it’s not the land that makes America so special — it’s the people.

Leaving aside the fact that 3,000 miles really only covers the continental U.S, leaving out Alaska and Hawaii which have both been states for some 45 years, think about that statement for a moment. “The people” are what make America special? Reading through the cast biographies on the site (which include Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s) it’s difficult to tell how these particular people exemplify America.

The people of America are drawn from all over the world. The inspiring, uplifting stories featured in America’s Heart & Soul could easily come from any number of countries on this planet, and they’d be no less uplifting or inspiring.

I doubt debut director Louis Schwartzberg had any idea he’d be pitted against Michael Moore in some sort of cinematic faceoff. His previous credits included visual effects for Stuart Little 2, Men in Black II, Erin Brochovich, and additional cinematography for the visually stunning Koyaanisqatsi. It’s unlikely he’s driving the marketing push that says America’s people are what makes it special.

The movie may be wonderful, but the message that one people is somehow special is the same dogma that’s lead to discrimination, subjugation, oppression, and massacres in this country and elsewhere. America’s people aren’t special; theoretically, anyone from around the world can become an American by applying for citizenship.

What makes America special is exactly what the Bush administration is trying to destroy. They’re the rights specified by the Constitution and the laws based on those rights. Those are the real heart and soul of America.