Friday, September 01, 2006

FleshMesh Friday: Death Of A President

On Fridays, we're beginning a new feature entitled "FleshMesh Friday" - a chance to examine the intersection between politics and other aspects of popular culture.

Today's debut installment couldn't fit the bill better.

When filmmakers showcase their latest works at festivals, they feverishly fight to make their movie stand out from the crowd, in hopes of generating buzz for their work.

Next week, at the Toronto Film Festival, there is one film already guaranteed to generate more than a little buzz - in fact, it's already being talked about around the world.

Director/Writer Gabriel Range will be presenting his latest work, Death of a President, or D.O.A.P., as it is being marketed. The "mockumentary" centers on a fictional account of the assassination of George W. Bush. From the Toronto Film Festival website:
An unknown gunman assassinates George W. Bush. A couple of years later, an investigative documentary is made. It features all the people involved that fateful day: the protestors outside a Chicago hotel; the suspects in the shooting and their families; the Secret Service men who failed to protect their charge; the press; and an array of experts, desperately seeking meaning in this horrible act of violence. We learn, agonizingly, what happened to America… after the death of a president.

This is easily the most dangerous and breathtakingly original film I have encountered this year.... Cautionary tales are too often flights of fancy; as they push the envelope of credibility, the lessons gleaned from dark speculation become somehow tarnished. Not here. Every moment is completely believable, every comment is somehow appropriate – to the point of chilling, horrifying certainty.

The film is never a personal attack on Bush....
First of all, those criticizing the film speak ignorantly, as it hasn't even been SEEN yet. That being said, from what the filmmaker and those responsible at the Toronto Film Festival have said, this film in NO WAY "wishes the President harm." It takes the assassination as the catalyst for an examination of a divided and threatened America. The assassination is a moment in the larger context of what follows.

I suppose I won't be able to have the opportunity to judge the film for myself, as I live in a country where "freedom" is so important that we have to censor thoughts and ideas.

Were people asked to boycott films like Clint Eastwood's "In The Line Of Fire," as it could possibly put ideas in someone's head? I think not.

Sure... here in America, we allow films like "Saw" and "Hostel" and the like, and don't worry about the notion that THESE films may put ideas in people's heads.

All sitting Presidents have faced the threat of assassination, as do a majority of world leaders. The potential threat to George W. Bush, given the actions of the Administration, has always been a threat, and will continue to be a threat - film or no film. All future Presidents in our post-9/11 world will faced an increased risk of assassination attempts. But be aware... no actual Presidents were harmed in the making of this film.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 11:21 AM /


  • Blogger Sandal Showcase posted at 6:18 PM  
    Great point about certain movies that were allowed out to theaters which can also put ideas in peoples minds.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 2:16 PM  
    Thanks for the backhanded comment... now that you've thought a little bit about it, try this out - PLEASE send me the link to ANY news story you can find in which the "ideas" being put into people's heads as a result of these films has resulted in violent action taken against someone. This would, of course, rule out flicks like "Jackass" or its unfortunate upcoming sequel.... if people are so ignorant as to imitate the moronic behavior of those films, then they deserve whatever broken bones they inflict upon themselves.

    But, for all of these "dangerous" ideas that get placed in people's heads as a result of this incredibly influential medium of film - show me the story where someone has been arrested for conspiring to imitate what they've seen in a film?

  • Blogger Cb posted at 1:55 PM  
    You asked:
    "PLEASE send me the link to ANY news story you can find in which the "ideas" being put into people's heads as a result of these films has resulted in violent action taken against someone."

    Easy (although I will let you hunt for the link): Gibson's The Passion of Christ and the [few] anti-Jewish attacks that resulted from it. (There was one in Colorado in particular.)

    This is not a case of their emulating the actions in the films, but rather the percieved ideas. This is the risk with disseminating any kinds of ideas; people will not always interpret and internalize them as the originator would like and may act out in undesired (yet sometimes predictable) ways.

    I would add, although I cannot remember the names to find the references, the incident in the mid 90s in England where two boys about 12 years old tortured and killed a boy of about 4. They say they were emulating Chuckie movies. Take from that what you will...

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 4:57 PM  
    Hey CB! Thought I lost you in the midst of the move - hope the new gig is going well!!

    Although I think you're right with your Passion example - no one really went out and tried to emulate the actions they saw in the film - we'll chalk that up as one example.

    I'll even provide one more myself, although I don't have an exact citation, either. Wasn't there a story recently about people letting snakes free in a screening of "Snakes on a Plane"?

    So, we've got two.

    How many films have been produced and released in that amount of time?

    I don't think the statistics bear out enough of a problem with people taking action based on a film to merit a serious, vital threat or concern about people specifically mimicking the pattern of action they see in DOAP.

    Do filmmakers have an absolute responsibility for the ideas that they disseminate in their product? Of course... but with other movies (those like the ones I cited in the original post) being "allowed through the filter" if you will, why would we censor or somehow limit the dissemination of something that presents itself as thoughtful and/or thought provoking? (this, of course, based on the fact that I haven't seen the film, either.) If we do, then where is the line?

    Rather, we both know that criticism of this film has less to do with the actual "we're afraid of safety and security" and more to do with political criticism, which is where I REALLY find the censorship issue to be troubling.

    As for the Chuckie examples... the 12 year olds were probably just trying to find retaliation for the torture they endured as a result of having to sit through a Chuckie film. :)

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 9:57 AM  
    An interesting post (as is the one from 13 Sept) except now where in either post do you point to any stories/sources written about, or by, people calling for the censoring of the film. As best as I can tell, news reports "deemed" it potentially controversial, without really any serious push to limit, or censor, the film.

    Now that cannot be said for the ABC Film. Clinton's gang made it QUITE clear they wanted it censored, if by censoring we mean editing, or deleting, scenes we feel should not be included.

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