Oliver Stone's "W", which I haven't seen

Oliver Stone’s “W.” is surely the first of its genre: a mockumentary-while-the-guy’s-still-in-office. But I don’t want to see this war criminal Hollywood-ized.
It isn’t merely that the content is too awful for portrayal — after all, one can stand to see all sorts of distressing things made into movies if the approach is respectful and informed (e.g. the ubiquitous nazi-era films like Claude Miller’s “Un Secret“). What feels twisted is the idea of this moral pygmy of a man, the agent of so much global suffering, being stylized with popular-entertainment tropes.
It’s not that we don’t deserve, every one of us, to see George W. made a fool of. It’s just that no amount of recreational schadenfreude could staunch these still-bleeding wounds. Mick LaSalle of the S.F. Chronicle pointed out that Sure, this man is a fool, but he has a nasty canniness to him (my paraphrase) that the movie doesn’t address; to ignore it would be to miss what makes his darkness tick. And as my son Alexander says, What’s the point of making a movie that reduces America’s most destructive presidency into merely a “personal” G.W. Bush, framed as that lovable anti-hero: the goofy loser?
Received wisdom suggests that a certain amount of time has to pass before a people can cop enough distance to view a troubling chapter of their history. But this presumes that the American mass mind will, even given the requisite time, understand the scope of what the Bush cartel set in motion. On that subject Americans as a group have come up with every conceivable variation on denial over the past 8 years, undistracted by any genuine curiosity about what their government was actually doing.
Maybe we’re too young, as a country, to know how to process the meaning of our own disasters with moral hindsight.We’ve had 2 centuries to come to grips with slavery and the genocide of our indigenous people, but as a group we’re not even close. By contrast, there have been individual Americans, artists and thinkers with enough vision to have meaningfully tackled these issues, as there are in every age and in every place. I guess collective wounds can be trusted only to the most subtle of artists. Others should leave them alone, respecting them through silence.
Meanwhile, if and when someone makes a W. movie that talks about his CIA father’s creation of the petro-political alliances that underlie the dystopic global situation we now inhabit, and/or one that talks about what really happened on 9/11/01, I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

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2 comments
melissa
melissa

This collective punishment is justified by Israel as a heroic undertaking by a small country that is surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs. But let us not forget that this small country of Israel has approximately 300 nuclear bombs and a well equipped conventional army paid for by U.S. tax dollars. Let us also not forget that the chief objective of Israel is to rid the land of the Arab inhabitants. Israel may bore us with their old refrain that the Arabs want to push them into the sea. But those of us who have followed the history of Israel remember their original self description of"a land with no people for a people with no land." Perhaps they didn't notice that a thriving population known as Palestinians did in fact live there. Or perhaps the Irgun and the Stern gang were merely describing the land they envisioned when the Palestinians were exterminated. Please help me to understand just how the U.S. can ever achieve a balanced approach to resolving this conflict when Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Israel. Doesn't this pose a conflict of interest? Wasn't there a time when patriotism meant alligence to the interests of this country alone? Or was the love fest during the presidential debates over just who loved Israel the most be a prelude to establishing the national objective as considering the interests of Israel as being the primary objective of U.S. foreign policy? I fail to see how the elimination of the Palestinian people and pissing off one billion Muslim people as being in the U.S.'s best interest.

Christine McMahon
Christine McMahon

Thank you Jessica for your rational critique of an unbalanced Presidency presented as mere folly by Oliver Stone’s depiction in “W.” I had the opportunity to view the film while working so I did not pay for the disappointment of watching in a very crowded theatre George W. Bush reduced and repackaged as a “looser” who had the right motives however askew they appeared in the film. There were few comic moments with limited vocalizations of laughter throughout the audience. When the movie ended there was no fanfare, but few commented on blatant omissions and their own disappointments paralleling Bush senior’s demeanor towards his reckless “Jr.” which changed dramatically with the onset of the Shock and Awe campaign. I agree it may take another lifetime to grasp the ramifications of the damage inflicted from the last four Presidencies.