Under attack from real war heroes, New Line Cinema said Monday it will remove a Web promotion for the movie “Wedding Crashers” that lets fans print out fake Purple Hearts to gain “attention, admiration and plenty of free booze.”
“We are going to remove the Purple Heart references from the ‘Wedding Crashers’ Web site,” New Line Cinema spokesman Richard Socarides said. “We understand the sensitivities regarding the medals, and we did not intend to make light of their significance.”
On the site, New Line offered “Crasher” fans a chance to don a fake Purple Heart. In the movie, actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson use the medals to win over bridesmaids.
“Carrying a Purple Heart in your jacket guarantees you attention, admiration and plenty of free booze,” the promotion site read. “To get one of these babies, some dudes have to prove their physical, mental and spiritual strength with great feats of bravery on the battlefield. All you need to do is press the button below.”
Among the Web site’s critics was Hershel Gober, former deputy secretary of veterans affairs and a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He earned a Purple Heart in 1969 in the Mekong Delta when, as an Army company commander, he was injured by a booby trap.
Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., targeted the movie when he introduced “Stolen Valor Act” legislation last week. At present, it’s a class-B misdemeanor to falsely wear a Medal of Honor, but there are no similar protections for Distinguished Service medals, Silver or Bronze stars or the Purple Heart, or for falsely listing any of them as earned honors on a resume. Salazar’s bill extends those protections. On Monday, he welcomed New Line’s reversal.
“If any moviegoers take the advice of the ‘Wedding Crashers’ and try to use fake Purple Hearts to get girls, they may wind up picking up an FBI agent instead,” Salazar said.
Socarides said, “The movie is a comedy. Most people are finding it really funny. It was not intended to offend anybody in any way. So to the extent on the Web that we can remedy this, that’s what we’re gonna do.”
(Contact Tara Copp at CoppT(at)shns.com)