Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Showtime Reagans: I flipped in and out of highly praised (oops, forgot sarcasm markers) Reagan movie that has been getting strong rotation on Showtime lately. All told, I probably only watched 20-25 minutes of the whole thing, but I watched enough to make the following informed observations.

In light of all of the deification of Reagan, the man, that has been going on lately, this movie does little to jeapordize that mission. In defense of the movie, to be at all credible, you have to show not only the good, but the bad. It's not realistic to say that any given president was all good or all bad. Everyone, since all the Presidents have been human beings thus far (Kang, I mean Dole, just missed), they must be fallible. Nixon, crook; Carter, weak; Clinton, well...we only have so much space. Reagan is portrayed as a very moral and well-meaning simpleton. He's almost the Forrest Gump of presidents. His weak point is making the "mean" or "political" decision. He'd rather keep all his buddies in chaps and boots as they meander around the ranch.

If anyone came off badly, it's Nancy, who gives "dragon lady" a whole new meaning. Reagan wants to do the right thing (i.e. get the hostages freed; save lives; bring down Communism). Nancy wants to maintain power and his image, and by any means necessary. For example, she instructs Ron to fire Meese as the fall guy, while Ronnie doesn't want to pin blame when it should be spread all around. Well, we know who won that argument.

What really offended the critics of the movie (well, once they actually got around to seeing it that is - not that they needed to see it to denounce it, of course) was probably the overall tone of despair that riddled the movie. Nancy is always seen as hollow-eyed, grim and furious. Ronnie is always on the verge of tears over the need to play her hardball. The administration officials are continually offing themselves, screaming, hiding and/or committing various high-level crimes. The impression is left that the whole 8 years was nothing but one massive and continual acid trip full of paranoia and haunting visions in the night. In that sense, I can find some justification in the criticisms, but then again, showing 8 years of happy bill-passing would hardly make for a fun night of t.v.

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