Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bush Will See This Movie, Right After He Sees "An Inconvenient Truth"

What does it say about the state of our national reputation when British television is set to run a fictional account of the assassination of President Bush? I was a bit shocked that anyone would make this film, it just feels wrong for some reason although I can’t seem to put my finger on why exactly. Perhaps it’s just knee-jerk nationalism. As much as I dislike President Bush, I still believe in this country and I want us to achieve what our founding fathers dreamed we could when they wrote our Constitution.

While I’m curious to see the film, I’m also a bit concerned about what my reaction might be. Watching the bad guy die in a film is cathartic in a way, I imagine the same would be true while watching the fictional murder of George Bush, and in this paranoid country where illegal surveillance and intimidation are standard practice and self-censorship is encouraged, that’s dangerous territory. So is writing about it, in fact I’m more than a bit worried about who this post will attract, simply by the words I’ve used so far. Even discussing the fictional assassination of the President can bring unwanted scrutiny.

Personally, I’d prefer a real televised legal drama on C-Span in the form of an impeachment trial. Watching the truth prevail and justice served would elevate the level of discourse in this country and renew our faith in the system of government that has been sullied by the Republican party and degraded by this administration. Now that’s what I’d call great television.


Blogger Dem Warrior said...

I would be utterly saddened if an American President was assassinated. No matter my problems with whoever it was, he's still our President. Plus, in this case, the GOP would get a helluva boost in sympathy popularity!

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assassination is sooooo 20th century !

Even talk of this technique is outrageous and reminds everyone of the corporate control freaks who brought us the killings of JFK, his brother, MLK and murder for hire by CIA operatives throughout the world.

Let's prove to our global brother and sisters everywhere U.S. citizens aren't like our government leaders of 2006 by working for justice through the World Court to make them accountable for their CRIMES.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous david said...

Just a reminder, folks: All fiction and drama is a matter of "what ifs". It's not about ferreting out the Truth or spreading Lies. It's a speculative fantasy meant to provoke thought and discussion as well as entertain.

What disturbs me about this post and the American "Love it or Leave it" attitude is that it turns America into a false god. I'm always surprised that my criticisms of American policy are taken by Americans to be blasphemous. And I don't understand this confusing the Founding Fathers with the Twelve Apostles.

The USA is not the New Jerusalem. Washington has not got a New Covenant with the Almighty. The American Way is not THE WAY, THE TRUTH, or THE LIGHT. The Sun does not orbit the United States. And no non-American seriously believes the USA is spreading Freedom or Democracy.

I can understand why Christian fundamentalism has fused with party politics in the USA; they both involve Faith triumphing over Fact. Americans apparently believe they can vote on veracity Evolution, Global Warming, the harmfulness of tobacco, and whether 2+2=4. What is never on the ballot is whether Jesus is King or America is the New Promised Land; these are givens.

Get over yourselves. The USA is a big country and a powerful one, but size or might doesn't make it right. And it was founded on a false premise; that is, that white men with money and guns are endowed with inalienable rights to kill non-whites, enslave, and pursue trade at all costs. Most schools teach a whitewashed version of the American Revolution and pseudo-history such as Mel Gibson's Patriot doesn't dispel this Hubris.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

I denounce any movie that presents as its premise the killing of a sitting President. And you should ,too.
It is not nationalism to oppose the portrayal of assassinating the sitting President of the United States. Where is your outrage?
How vociferous would you be if it was Nelson Mandela or Senator Kerry or President Clinton in this movie?

I find your mild reaction odorous.

Your values are bereft of standards.

Stand up for your President!

What if this movie was about Ahmadinejad and on Fox TV? I can just hear your condemnation of Fox and the Republican influence upon it!

I am no Republican, for sure. But I do know when to support the President and when to oppose his policies. This is the time to support the President of the United States.

I condemn the British for this movie. This is inexcusable.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

I had to come back and say one thing more but I cannot stay, I will check in tomorrow.

Under what conditions would you defend the President of the United States even though you detest his policies and his decisions and the results he has achieved?

6:55 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

dem warrior--I would be as well.

cosmic messenger--I haven't seen the movie yet, but from what I understand, it is meant to provoke a conversation about how this administration’s "war on terror" has polarized the political discussion in this county. I don't think they are advocating anything, it's just meant to be a fictional account of what can happen in such a polarized political environment. I'll reserve judgment until after I've seen the film.

David--When I talk about the "founding fathers" I try not to make them more than they were, but what really strikes me as important is not what they did or why they did it, but the ultimately optimistic document they produced. Sure, at that time, blacks, women and anyone without the means to own property wasn't counted in the "all people" they wrote of, but they used the words "all people" which has allowed for the inclusion of people over time. In my mind, that counts for something and I still believe it's possible to work within that document, our constitution, to make a more perfect union. I don't believe we are exceptional, but we have been given a framework that will allow us to do better, if we choose to that is.

kindlingman--That is a good question. I would defend his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would defend his right to a trial by a jury of his peers. But with the benefits of citizenship comes responsibility. This President has broken the law, lied to the American people and he must be held accountable but lucky for us there is a system set up to deal with such things, and it does not involve violence of any kind.

As far as my lack of outrage is concerned, I save that for things that really matter and try not to waste it on art that I may find offensive. If I don't like a book, I put it down. If I don't like a painting, I don't view it again and if I don't like a movie, I stop watching it. It really is that simple. If the makers of this film were out advocating something, well, that would be a whole other story now wouldn't it?

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

I hate Bush with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. I honestly believe the world would be a better place had he and Cheney simultaneously choked to death on their shrimp cocktails at the first inagural ball.

That said, I would oppose anyone who advocated their assassination. Not only is an assassination murder, it is an unjustifiable interference with the democratic process. Now, I must qualify that somewhat in Bush's case since I truly believe he has subverted democracy in the US. But like you, I don't think our democracy is irretrievably lost, and therefore, only political means of change are legitimate.

David, I agree with your comments to the extent that fiction is fiction and does not necessarily constitute advocacy of the action portrayed. But I don't understand why you're directing a sermon about the fallacy of divine American exceptionalism to an audience that clearly doesn't buy into that. Maybe you should take your own advice and get over yourself...or vent your wrath on a more deserving object -- there are plenty of wingnut bloggers who could better profit from your "wisdom."

Speaking of people who need to get over themselves, Kindlingman, please do. The movie is a work of fiction, not a fatwa. LGND says it disturbs her, but you want to dictate the appropriate level of outrage for her and every other American? Rather presumptuous of you.

The producers claim the film's purpose is to explore the effect of the so-called War on Terror on American politics. Sounds like a topic worthy of exploration. Maybe it's unwise or offensive to speculate about it via a fake documentary about a fictional assassination. But it's hardly cause to denounce the British en masse.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

I could not disagree more with your view. I find this movie offensive and disrespectful towards the United States. You see it as something else: a trifle from which you speculate about a preferred impeachment trial.

How can you not hold the same reverence for the law and for the presidency? Can you not do this at the same time regardless of your personal feelings about the man who occupies the office?

You said you were 'shocked'. You said 'it just feels wrong'. And then you were dismissive of your own feelings. I think you felt this way because it truly is wrong. I think you are conflicted between your hatred for George Bush and your good sense that no one should represent the killing of an American president.
Yet you do not take the next step to condemn the movie. Perhaps to do so would somehow give aid and comfort to your opposition.

This, I believe, is a problem with many of us. We will give no quarter to this specific President because of our disgust for his Administration. Just like the Republicans did over President Clinton's assignation. Same coin, different sides. (I am not talking about the acts they committed but the reaction to the acts by people)

To me, a representation of killing the actual leader of the United States is morally offensive. I see the nuanced reaction between hating George Bush and defending the President of the United States.

You would support the rights of the President of the United States at the same level as your next door neighbor. (And there is no reason to give him more Constitutional rights than any other citizen.) I believe that what is missing though is the support of the presidency itself. The position created by the Constitution, elected by the people, and charged with the awesome responsiblity to defend the people of the United States.

When the docudrama could have been done about a fictional president and instead moves into killing our actual President, a line has been crossed that is repulsive to me and I would hope it would be repulsive to others.

4:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kinglandman - I don't believe you are not republican. You believe in censorship and support of president when his policies suck. As Americans, we are allowed to have opinions and voice opinions. It is a "movie" that you are worked up about - don't watch it. It would be more appropriate to be so worked up about people dying for no reason whatsoever in Iraq - NO REASON. By the way, the president's life is no more or less valuable than anyone else. Elected office does not make someone a saint.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous david said...

I actually enjoy reading LGND, Betty Cracker, and find myself agreeing with much of what she writes.

However, I find even the most liberal American has unconsciously absorbed the ideas of a Messianic America, Manifest Destiny, and a proprietary patriotism. I've seen ex-pat liberal Democrats in Toronto go all funny when the drums of war were beating down in DC like a wolf baying at the moon. And each American I know rewrites history to exonerate their present selves. (There was plenty of evidence that Bush & Blair were lying prior to the invasion of Iraq.)

And yet why are so many upset at a fictional story about the killing of a sitting president? Or is it that it's a Republican president? (The Right proffered pleny of fantasies about killing Clinton.) Or is it, as I've said elsewhere, that admitting that American elections are rigged is to call for insurrection?

I'd like to point out how much this BBC drama resembles Geoffrey Household's 1939 thriller ROGUE MALE, made into the 1941 movie MAN HUNT. It's about a gentleman hunter who, having come close to assassinating Hitler, must run for his life with SS in hot pursuit. Speculating on killing leaders has always been provocative and an opener for intellectual discussion.

I agree wholeheartedly with LGND when she points out that this President has broken the law, lied to the Nation, made war illegally, ignored the Bill of Rights, conspired to subvert democracy & free speech, and mixed Church with State. Unfortunately, Bush will never be tried by a jury of his peers as his party controls Congress and the Supreme Court. To stand up for this president is like getting into a taxicab whose driver is drunk and saying, "Well, he is the driver. We should support him."

9:22 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

David--Unfortunately I agree with you that Bush will never be held accountable for his crimes, and that is sad to admit. That our laws are selectively enforced is nothing new, but it is still outrageous.

I love your analogy, I needed a good laugh this morning.

10:31 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

kindlingman--Supporting the office of the Presidency is a difficult thing when it is currently occupied by someone I believe has stolen two elections to obtain the office and has done nothing but disgrace the office since he's been in power.

I have respect for the constitution, but this president has trampled on our constitution and has claimed powers not granted by it. The office that you want me to defend has been grotesquely altered to the point of making it unrecognizable.

And again, I haven't seen the movie so I can't in good conscience condemn it and I try not to make judgments out of ignorance.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

David, perhaps I spoke too soon: there appears to be at least one person in the audience here who could benefit from your denunciation of American chauvinism, and that would be Kindlingman, with all his talk about reverence and use of capital letters reserved for our Dear Leader.

However, I am again irritated by being tarred with the same American exceptionalism brush that is righteously applied to him. There are plenty of American liberals who do not buy into Manifest Destiny or messianic pretentions -- unconsciously or otherwise. Moreover, there are many of us who opposed this war (and a multitude of other foreign policy follies) from the outset and therefore have no cause to re-write history to exonerate ourselves now.

Perhaps you mistake our invocation of constitutional rights and freedoms traditionally enjoyed for reverence. Speaking for myself, I don't think there's anything particularly divine about the US form of government aside from the fact that it seems to work pretty well (i.e., it has the capacity to promote freedom for its citizens) unless it's subverted.

I believe it was also once true that the US served as a model for those struggling in other nations for freedom and human rights and wielded a moral authority based on something other than pure arrogance. Not because we were divinely appointed by gods to do so but rather because, at least on paper and occasionally in practice, we had a collective commitment to liberty.

Sadly, those days are long gone, and Bush's attempts to wear that mantle amount to a cruel joke. But we are not all brainless uber-patriots, and it's unfair and perhaps a bit chauvinistic and self-congratulatory on your part to imply that we are.

That said, way to go with the taxi analogy -- it is perfect.

3:48 AM  
Blogger Godlessfriend said...

Art is certainly capable of carrying many messages. This movie has already accomplished much. I think we've all(American's)been taught to respect the office of the President. However, I do believe that respect must be earned and the opposite has occured with this administration. I for one do not respect this President for obvious and numerous reasons. Thanks for the post.

David- Take a moment from your whining and go study the British North America Act of 1867, which created Canada as a sovereign dominion. You can thank those white men with guns later. Oh wait...I just remembered, they teach a bullshit version of that peice of history to kids in your country.

10:10 PM  

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