Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 6  Num. 86
                    ("Quid coniuratio est?")


A Very Marginal "Thumbs Up"

First the good things about this movie:

  1. Given that most movies these days are so stupid, with a basic plot of (a) young folks defeat oldsters with power of rock n' roll; (b) aren't the English just so damn quaint; (c) young chicks in swimsuits defeat oldsters with power of rock n' roll; (d) aren't the elite classes in America just so cute and adorable; (e) young cops defeat bad guys with power of ultra coolness and machismo; (f) sappy love stories that fail to warn you that marriage turns into a trap for many poor suckers; (g) young feminists defeat evil male oppressors through power of sisterhood; (h) you get the picture: there's a lot of really stupid sh** out there -- Oliver Stone's "Nixon" at least makes motions in the direction of an intelligent audience.
  2. Given that most young adults have little concept of history, due maybe to rotting their minds watching stupid movies as in #1 (above), take this movie as a blessing: at least our younger compatriots can get some idea of what a drama Watergate was. Yes, it really did happen.
  3. Back when the so-so movie "Silence of the Lambs" beat out Stone's tremendously great movie "JFK" for best picture, I used to be tearing my hair saying, "How in the name of God could they give best picture to that 'Silence of the Lambs' crapola and not 'JFK?'" And people kept coming back at me with "'Silence of the Lambs' was 'well-crafted.'" That was what I kept hearing: "It was 'well-crafted.'" Well things have come full circle: Stone's latest on the late President Richard M. Nixon is "well-crafted."

Now the bad stuff:

  1. I was in my early twenties when the real Watergate was unfolding. At the time, I was tuned in to the mass media and I wound up buying their smelly fish story hook, line and sinker. Yes, it's true, I fell for that garbage about "Thank Heaven for the 'watchdog press' that saved us all by their yearning after truth." I believed that junk about it was the "adversarial press" that brought down Nixon and stands noble guard over the Republic. That's the big problem with this movie: it is way too kind to the liars and whores of the press. Once more the mythology of the "watchdog press" is being trotted out for a new generation. Stone gives it to us according to official mythology; the press appears as sharp-witted and ethically superior; they will not be swayed by any of Nixon's wiles. (Barf.) Let's hope the people don't fall for that b.s. all over again.
  2. This movie is awfully kind to "Tricky Dick". I don't see what his family is squawking about. True, Stone does point out some of the bad stuff about Nixon. But the really bad stuff like cesspools of assassins and paymasters is just barely hinted at -- those parts are stacatto and soft spoken. Look quickly or you'll miss them. Stone has really backed off from his take no prisoners stance in "JFK" which caused the boys in the suits and ties to choke on their phlegm and made them so gosh-darn angry at Oliver. My guess is that Stone has compromised. He's decided to play it safe: he'll get to toot his horn about Viet Nam so long as he lays low on the conspiracy stuff. Smart move, Oliver. Hey, the press will even lend a hand, floating a mirage that your movie is "controversial". (After all, if it's perceived as controversial that will help bring in the bucks.)

    (Just don't forget to say "thank you" to your slime buddies in the press to whom you have been so kind in "Nixon".)

  3. Stone is distorting history!! This time he is. There was a lot more going on with Watergate than you'd know by this movie, which carts out the tired baloney from 20-some years ago. There's more to the Watergate story than Stone would allow us to know. (See, for example, Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy That Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes by Gerald Bellett. ISBN 0-921842-42-2. Phone 800-268-2946.) Stone has been co-opted.

Yes I know Oliver Stone has made some great movies. And he has done a lot to raise the smarts of many as to some of the rotten things that have gone on. For that he should be thanked -- especially for helping get people wise to the assassinations of the 1960s. But this film "Nixon" is a step back. Is Stone deciding to just relax and play it safe from now on? Let's hope not. Clever stylistics and "well-crafted" will not fool all the people all the time.

I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."

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See also:

See also: ftp pub/users/bigred

Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9