IMDB Becomes the Latest Battle Ground of Genocide Denial

By Alexis Herr, PhD

 

The Promise, the newest film on the Armenian Genocide, has already received more than 88,269 reviews on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)—a film and TV catalog—despite  having only been screened to the public three times [1]. With only three screenings, and nearly 90,000 reviews and counting, it is clear that these ratings are commenting on something beyond the scope of the film. Indeed, 62.9% of the “reviews” give the film 1 out of 10 stars. While I admit that I have not seen this film, it is no stretch of the imagination to infer that those casting their vote are striking out to discredit a film on the Armenian Genocide.

 

In the past, deniers have gone to great lengths to discount the 1915-17 genocide of 800,000 to over a million Christian Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks led by the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP). The point of this article, however, is not to recount the extensive denial of the genocide or to substantiate the genocide. [If you want to know more about the denial of the genocide, I recommend checking out these Assessing Atrocity articles and clicking on this link to read “Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide” by Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen, and Robert Jay Lifton (Holocaust and Genocide Studies (1995) 9 (1): 1-22).] The slew of factitious reviews on IMDB demonstrate another caveat of modern-day denial of genocide: the use of the internet to try and silence acknowledgement of the genocide.

 

The thousands of reviews on IMDB that aim to discredit and dissuade movie goers from seeing The Promise are furthering what Gregory H. Stanton refers to as the final stage of genocide: denial. “The black hole of forgetting,” he explained, “is the negative force that results in future genocides. When Adolf Hitler was asked if his planned invasion of Poland was a violation of international law, he scoffed, ‘Who ever heard of the extermination of the Armenians?’”

 

It is undeniable that films possess the rare ability to educate, inspire, and propel the investigation and study of genocide to millions of people. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Meryl Steep’s award winning role in Sophie’s Choice both earned critical acclaim and helped ignite greater acknowledgement of the Holocaust. Terry George’s The Promise has the potential to do for the Armenian Genocide what his film Hotel Rwanda did for the Rwanda Genocide. And it seems that some IMDB reviews are trying to make sure this doesn’t happen. Indeed, IMDB has become the latest battle-ground in which deniers are trying to silence the Armenian Genocide.

 

 

[1] Christopher Hooton (@christophhooton) first reported on this for Independent (October 25, 2016). See: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-promise-film-christian-bale-armenian-genocide-imdb-turkey-oscar-isaac-a7378881.html

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