Sunday, November 16, 2003

Where's Phil Hartman when we need him?

A couple of thoughts on the Reagan miniseries scandal...

First, I'm sort of confused about what the Republican critics are upset about. In particular, the much-publicized line in the film where Reagan says of AIDS victims, "Those who live in sin shall die in sin." Everyone's up in arms, yelling that he never said that and how dare you portray him that way. Okay, maybe he didn't say it, but when did the GOP become such a big fan of the gays? I mean, our current "President" is trying to ban gay civil union because it goes against "the sanctity of marriage," you'd think Reagan would be a hero for calling us sinners. in general, the complaint seems to be that the film has a liberal slant and makes Reagan look like a bad guy. Well, okay, but isn't Reagan going to look like a bad guy to liberals no matter who portrays him? I mean, a policy is a policy and a public statement is a public statement (and the "live in sin" statement was a private one in the film which apparently can't be verified, by the way). You can put a filter on the lens and score it in a major key instead of a minor one, but the politics and history won't change. Someone could make a movie about how Hitler liked puppy dogs (and no, I am NOT comparing Reagan to Hitler) and it's not going to make me go "You know, maybe he was right to slaughter my people. He was just misunderstood." So what's the big deal, conservative media? If you liked him warts and all then, why don't you like him that way now?

But I get that CBS is a mainstream network with advertising dollars to worry about, and I get that because the Reagans are alive there are libel issues, and it's touchy to say mean things (even if they're true) about an old man who has Alzheimer's. What I really don't get is why no one in the liberal media (at least no one I've heard or read), or the filmmakers for that matter, has mentioned Showtime's 9/11 film. I didn't see it, but every bit of press I read pointed out that it was written by a very vocal GOP supporter and close friend of George W's, and that it was not only Republican propaganda, but took some pretty obvious liberties with very recent history to portray "President" Bush as a tough-talkin' cowboy out to kick some evil-doer ass. According to Entertainment Weekly, CBS President Les Moonves said he "was shocked by the [Reagan] movie's 'strong political point of view.'" Fair enough, and yet the same corporate entity put DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, which couldn't have had a stronger point of view if it tried, on the air without any problem at all.

I guess the difference is that Time of Crisis was always slated for Showtime which, let's face it, hardly anyone watches anyway (and which Moonves has nothing to do with). So while it got some bad press, in the end no one really cared. I think it's fitting that The Reagans has wound up there though, for the sake of karmic balance if nothing else. Of course, this also means I won't watch it, since I'm one of those millions of people who doesn't subscribe to Showtime.

I'm just looking forward to The Clintons ten or twenty years from now. It's only a shame Phil Hartman's not around anymore to play Bill.

No comments: