The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has made a decision not to show "The Tillman Story" in its worldwide Reel Time Theaters. A spokesman for AAFES said that the decision has nothing to do with the controversial nature of the film which which paints the government and Defense Department in a bad light over the cover-up of the circumstances of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death. Their decision to not show the film, the spokesman argues, is question of numbers. It hasn't been shown on many screens in the U.S., and AAFES therefore believes that it would not draw crowds into its theaters.
That, of course, is a bunch of high grade hogwash.
The AAFES spokesman kept referencing the new Sylvester Stallone film, "The Expendables," as an example of a film that would do well in military theaters because it is doing well in civilian theaters. And yes, the Stallone film would sell more tickets than a documentary about a highly suspicious friendly-fire death of a very well known soldier. But the military is a unique community, and there are many members of the service, as well as family members, who would have a strong interest in seeing the Tillman film. Combat troops who fought in Afghanistan might appreciate getting a different perspective on the war. Troops who knew Pat Tillman or his brother, Kevin, would certainly have an interest in seeing how their story is handled in the documentary.
The AAFES theaters also declined to run Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 451" which called into question George Bush's motives for taking the United States to war, and they chose not to run "Brokeback Mountain," a gay love story between two cowboys. This censorship and paternalism results in troops who are stationed overseas often not having any options to see controversial films while they are in current release.
The Stars and Stripes has put up a site where those interested may cast a vote on whether AAFES should show "The Tillman Story." If you have an opinion on this matter, that would be a good place to share it. The site is: www.stripes.com/go/tillman
One commentator on the Stars and Stripes site had this to say, rather tongue-in-cheek:
I completely understand AAFES decision not to carry the movie. I just checked the Ramstein (Germany) movie schedule for the next month and it seems they are showing "Knight and Day" 27 times. In addition, they are showing some movie called "Machete" 23 times. With great selections like this, I don't see how they would be able to fit in a good, necessary movie like "The Tillman Story."'Nuff said.