Am I the only one in America who’s tired of Hollywood enshrining lies in our collective history through the use of propagandistic movies?asks Benny Huang a few weeks before the release of Robert Redford’s latest film, “Truth”.
Too many of us learn about history through cinema, a pitfall we should all try to avoid. We shouldn’t confuse movies for depictions of actual historical events. Besides the fact that they’re meant to entertain, most of them are also made by loony leftists.
In that regard, “Truth” reminds me of another cinematic abortion released five years ago called “Fair Game,” which supposedly told the story of Joe Wilson and his CIA officer wife Valerie Plame. Its depiction of events was so far removed from reality that it can only be called fiction.
When the Washington Post asked Joe Wilson about the film’s veracity, he said something very telling its defense—“For people who have short memories or don’t read, this is the only way they will remember the period.” How’s that for honesty? I think what he’s saying is that even though “Fair Game” may not align with the historical record, in time it will become the historical record. People who just didn’t pay much attention to the story, or were born after the fact, will conjure up images of “Fair Game” when they think of Plamegate.
And they will think that they saw events as they really happened. What a terrible disservice.
… No film has used subterfuge to influence public opinion about an historical event quite like Oliver Stone’s 1991 blockbuster “JFK.” It supposedly tells the true story of District Attorney Jim Garrison of New Orleans, the only man ever to charge anyone for President Kennedy’s murder. As it turns out, the man he put on trial, businessman Clay Shaw, also happened to be innocent. The case Garrison’s office assembled against him was a textbook example of reckless prosecution. After a lengthy trial, the jury deliberated for just 54 minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty.
But that’s not how Stone tells the story. In Stone’s film, Garrison is the hero. His investigation meets stiff resistance from the federal government, presumably because Kennedy’s killers are still very much in power. The assassination is a conspiracy of epic proportions, involving top military brass, defense contractors, the CIA, FBI, Dallas Police, Vice President LBJ, anti-Castro Cubans, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and even the President’s own Secret Service. Lee Oswald not only didn’t act alone, he didn’t act at all. Just a patsy. Oswald was conveniently “sheep-dipped” to look like an unstable Marxist then placed in proximity to the murder so the real killers could make a clean get-away.
The Chicago Tribune editorialized, “The danger is that Stone’s film and the pseudo-history it so effectively portrays will become the popularly accepted version.” Very true, and there’s no doubt that Stone intended to make his film an historical reference that would guide public memory of the assassination. Released with the film was a companion book sent to thirteen thousand teachers across the country. To think that any teacher would present the film to her class as truth! But I’m sure some did and do.
Stone offered an insight into his thinking in an introduction he wrote for a book by Fletcher Prouty, the archetypal crackpot and basis for the mysterious Mr. X character portrayed in “JFK.” Wrote Stone: “Who owns reality? Who owns our history? He who makes it up so that most everyone believes it. That person wins.”