boycott this: a mighty heartless travel contest

This is undoubtedly the most tactless travel contest I have seen since I started entering travel contests and sweepstakes in the spring of last year. To enter, you nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero you know, and explain your nomination in 250 words or less, for a chance to win a four-night trip to the Bahamas. Not a bad prize as prizes go, but the context is unconscionable. It’s to promote the new movie “A Mighty Heart,” about Daniel Pearl’s murder. The film is based on his widow Mariane’s memoir, and, in case you’ve had your head in the sand, stars Angelina Jolie and was produced by Brad Pitt. Daniel Futterman plays Daniel Pearl.

I read about it this morning in The Washington Post, in an article by Asra Q. Nomani:

For me, "A Mighty Heart" and all the hype surrounding it have only underscored how cheap and manufactured our quest for heroism has become. Paramount even launched an "ordinary hero" contest to promote the movie. "Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero," its Web site shouts. "Win a trip to the Bahamas!"

Nomani knew Danny, as people who knew him call him, from their days together at The Wall Street Journal. Her rental home in Karachi – she happened to be there at the same time -- became the base of the search for Pearl after he was kidnapped. In the Post article, Nomani chronicles her initial participation in the project and her ultimate disappointment with the finished product. She thinks the movie misses the mark in some fundamental ways. First and foremost, the movie doesn’t represent the Danny she knew. Further, she’s been reduced to a lowly assistant when she was a colleague, a respected peer, of her friends. (For her part, my sense is that Nomani seems to attract, even stir up, controversy. While I agree with her take on the contest, I can't tell where she's coming from on the film. Sour grapes? Transferred grief? Sanctimonious self-promotion? Plus, she should have known that everyone has a gripe when someone makes a movie about them and/or someone they love.)

Please skip this contest!

Here’s a sweeps I can endorse, from the makers of Tylenol, a chance to win a three-night stay at The Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. To enter, click HERE. This one closes June 30.