It is honestly becoming harder and harder for me to understand why so many on the fringe left are so upset that people made a movie designed to expose the brutality of child sex trafficking. After reading so many meandering and condescending op-eds castigating “Sound of Freedom” and those who watched it as mindless QAnon conspiracy theorists, I am not much closer to wrapping my mind around their animosity toward this movie.
I came across an op-ed written by Vox columnist Aja Romano in which she peddles the same criticisms being parroted by her contemporaries, who also seem to believe people shouldn’t make movies about child sex trafficking because QAnon and stuff. But the author’s arguments are particularly telling when it comes to how those on the hard left view these issues through a purely political lens. She begins the article in this fashion:
Usually when the culture war comes to the movies, it’s in the form of conservative backlash to films they perceive as too liberal. Increasingly, however, conservative filmmakers, often working outside of Hollywood’s studio system, are grabbing the spotlight with unexpected hits, some packed with ideology and tinged with hallmarks of the modern right-wing worldview: moral panic, hints of vast leftist conspiracies, and a sense of persecution.
Later in the piece, however, Romano notes that the movie “has also generated a considerable amount of scathing left-wing backlash, aimed at both the movie itself, with its QAnon-adjacent rhetoric, and the film’s target audience.”
The author refers to the film as a “hype machine,” and then tries to tie it to the QAnon conspiracy cult:
It’s easy to see how emotionally charged all of this is — it’s a hype machine that’s not just a hype machine, but a patriotic, perhaps even divinely mandated, responsibility. Adjacent to this urgent, awareness-raising narrative, however, sits QAnon — the baseless extremist conspiracy theory that high-powered liberals and elites are trafficking children and harvesting their adrenalin in order to attain eternal life. Sound of Freedom doesn’t explicitly reference QAnon or any of its most common narratives, and Ballard has brushed off the connection — but in the same breath he speaks of liberals “running interference” for traffickers by creating such rumors.
Um…it is primarily lefties who are trashing the movie and trying to discredit the story. So, would this not lend some credibility to Ballard’s argument?
If we’re being honest, unlike Romano’s op-ed, we can easily acknowledge that it is the left that is politicizing the “Sound of Freedom.” When it was released, there wasn’t some upswell of conservatives using it to call leftists “groomers” or other pejoratives. Instead, the left struck first, seeking to label fans of the film as crazed QAnon conspiracy nuts.
Folks like Romano led the charge on connecting politics to the movie when most regular folks, Republican or Democrat, would never have a problem with a movie about child sex trafficking. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of the population would recoil at the thought of kids being harmed – but perhaps I’m just crazy.
The author continues, pointing to actor Jim Caviezel, who played Ballard in the film, and his supposed embrace of QAnon ideas. However, even she has to acknowledge that there was nothing in the movie that promotes the cult. Moreover, the film was made before the QAnon movement actually took off, which is yet another indication that folks on the left know they are being deceptive by tying the movie to the movement.
The author then makes a claim I’ve seen others on the left make: Child sex trafficking ain’t that big of a deal. “It is true that reports of illegal labor exploitation of migrant children have increased dramatically since the pandemic; however, reports of a widespread child sex trafficking phenomenon are false, a straightforward, old-school ‘think of the children’ moral panic,” Romano writes.
For starters, none of these people have ever cited a conservative claiming child sex trafficking affects most children. However, it is clear that many children become victims of the practice. The notion that having concern for these kids is a “moral panic,” is nothing more than a cynical attempt to gaslight their audience into believing folks on the right are essentially making the whole thing up.
Then, almost as an afterthought, the author admits that “none of this should erase the horrifying reality of human trafficking or its impact on victims and survivors.”
Romano ends her hit piece by claiming that the film “is ultimately a form of extremist propaganda – and that extremism is at least as dark and dangerous as the very thing Sound of Freedom wants to combat.”
But, didn’t the author just say that child sex trafficking isn’t a big deal? Perhaps the film isn’t all that dangerous after all.
All jokes aside, I saw the movie earlier this week. Romano is lying about the film. There is nothing propagandistic about it – just as the movie “Blood Diamond” wasn’t propagandizing by highlighting another serious issue. “Sound of Freedom” was an excellent movie that shines the spotlight of an issue that actually is important, despite what Romano’s ilk believes.
As I wrote previously, I think the only reason folks like the author are trying to discredit the film is because it is being hyped by conservatives and features a conservative actor. That’s the only reason. It has nothing to do with QAnon or conspiracy theories—and everything to do with toxic hyper partisanship.
If a leftist filmmaker made the same movie, folks like Romano would have absolutely no problem with it because it would be made by someone on her team. Folks like her are part of the problem and one of the reasons why Americans have difficulty addressing important problems – especially those caused by government.
Human trafficking should never be a partisan matter. As I stated previously, people of all political stripes can agree that the sexual abuse of children is despicable and should be opposed vigorously. Unfortunately, bad actors on the left are more concerned with scoring cheap political points than supporting a good cause.