Is Patriots Day bad publicity for UMass Dartmouth?

By Nicole Belair, Staff Writer

Patriots Day, the new Mark Wahlberg film about the Boston Marathon Bombings, is a great film – but it hasn’t been without controversy.

When I first heard that this movie was being made, my initial reaction was disgust. They began filming less than two years after the tragedy.

It seemed like Hollywood was capitalizing on the event simply to make money. There’s never a right time for this kind of situation, but how soon is too soon? When is it acceptable to turn an act of terror into a dramatized film?

I feel that the metaphorical wounds from that day are still fresh; the city of Boston is still trying to heal, and I was afraid that the movie would not adequately pay tribute to all who were affected.

Because of the timing, and how close it hits to home, I didn’t want to like the movie. And to those who were directly affected, it was more than a movie – it was personal.

In addition, we all know that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted marathon bomber, was a student at UMass Dartmouth while planning the attack. After he and his brother, Tamerlan, set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April of 2013, Dzhokhar returned to his dorm room in Pine Dale Hall on the UMass Dartmouth campus. A manhunt for Dzhokhar ensued, leading to a campus shutdown and national media attention.

As a result, CBS Films requested to film scenes at our university. According to The Boston Globe, students, faculty, and staff declined the request because “production activities would be too disruptive to our campus community,” said acting chancellor Gerry Kavanaugh. (Okay, but how cool would it have been for Mark Wahlberg to be on our campus)?

In my opinion, any mention of UMass Dartmouth in Patriots Day was going to be bad publicity.

I don’t think UMass Dartmouth is necessarily proud of the fact that Dzhokhar was formerly a student here, so it makes sense that they would not want CBS Films to draw attention to it.

But the fact is, they were going to film those scenes anyway, and they would simply find another location to shoot. Why not film it where it actually took place?

CBS Films got permission to film the UMass Dartmouth scenes at, I believe, Emmanuel College instead. As I sat in the theater watching the film at AMC Dartmouth about a mile from our campus, some sighs and chuckles broke out when the scene showed a random campus, but with a subtitle that said “University of Massachusetts Dartmouth” at the bottom corner of the screen. Though the campus that they showed was beautiful, it wasn’t UMass Dartmouth.

It didn’t look or feel authentic. But no matter how CBS Films decided to go about it, UMass Dartmouth would not have been represented in a positive light. Dzhokhar went here, and there’s nothing they can really do about that.

All that aside, I thought it was an incredible film.

Like I said, I didn’t want to like it. However, it turned out to be a beautiful tribute to those who were injured or lost their lives at the Marathon that day. Patriots Day incorporated real surveillance footage, casted the movie well, and portrayed most of the scenes very accurately.

I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t want it to be over. It certainly does hit close to home, but the movie does justice to the victims of the tragedy as well as the public safety officers who were involved.

So, grab a package of tissues and head over to see Patriots Day, if you haven’t already.

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