The hype is already begining and shooting is barely begun on Oliver Stone's new biopic, "W" about George "dubya" Bush. One reviewer had this to say about the cagily-timed film:
"He's not just courting it, he's grabbing controversy by the lapels and giving it a big wet smacker."
"W" is expected to be the most controversial look at a President for many reasons. It's biting content notwithstanding, the timing of the film may be more critical than any single clip or sound bite. First of all, it's Stone's first film intended to dissect a living president. Second, the film will be released this fall while he will still be our acting president and commander-in-chief for several more months; but the third, and perhaps the most calculated aspect of the film yet, is that it is set to be released weeks before the election and at the absolute height of the campaign frenzy.
I can tolerate a level, un-romanticized examination of a living president. As public figures, every word, every outfit, every expression and decision is examined, critiqued and dissected before the world. But this hints at being more evisceration than examination. Is it legal? Yes. Is it ethical? Is it right? Recall that what is legal is not always ethical and moral. John Adams warned us of this when he stated:
“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
So we have the right to say, and write, and direct many things, but that right was intended be governed with the wisdom and ethics of a morally-guided people.
Will the fact that this film, intended to make our standing president appear buffoon-like and immoral, affect his ability to conduct business with other nations? Will a world who already thinks of us as the Great Satan be affected by seeing such a characterization of the man who leads our military and citizenry? Canwe afford this self-parasitic behavior? Only time will tell.
This was clearly intended to be far more than a biography. This full-feldged political advertisement, right before the election and during the most politcally charged weeks of the campaign season, is political calculation at its most blatant. Particularly well-calculated to lampoon one man's already assailed legacy, I have no doubt it will also serve as a distorted carnival mirror in the hands of those who seek to label candidates and their policies as mere reflections of the sitting president being destroyed via celuloid. And just in time to influence those undecided voters at ballot time.
Some will argue that this is the essence of the guaranteed right to freedom of speech. And it is. But it is just as clearly the well-calculated attempt to herd star-struck sheep. I have previously spoken out about the political maneuvering of Hollywood. (See 3/14/08, "A Possible Consequence of our Media Binge.) We build their storehouse of power and influence every time we buy a ticket and fill their pockets. Choose ye wisely.