Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Steven Spielberg's Biggest Screen Fantasy Yet - Obama Repackaged?

Some of you probably think that because I'm a crusty old wartime veteran. . .um, well, okay, you got me, so I'm not (yet) crusty, "old" is appropriate, and though I served in a medical capacity during the Vietnam Era, I was never in combat.  But still, you might think my favorite movies would be war films.  Not.  Not.  Not.  In fact, I doubt that a preponderance of combat war veterans from the World War II and Korea Era ever favored watching a glut of Hollywood re-creations of everything they would prefer to avoid for the rest of their lives - or, as I've heard some say, why would I want to watch movies about war's horrors after I lived through the real thing ?

Last week, I pulled out the musical soundtrack to 1979's Roller Boogie, starring Linda Blair and Jim Bray.  Script-wise, the movie was beyond awful -- yet, intended primarily for the young and young at heart who worshipped rolling skating (skating in roller rinks was The Thing back then) and/or foolish young love,  Boogie was a sensation (as I recall, compared to Skatetown USA, it seemed as solid as Gone With the Wind. . .)   I suspect many a drive-in profited from multiple showings.   Yes, I liked it, enough to buy the DVD a few years ago.  "It's Love on Wheels!" promised the promotional material, and indeed the production was sweet, charming, stupid, and seemed to promise enough fun, surf and sunlight to cleanse away some of  the  blood,dust, ghostly echoes and societal concerns haunting the post-Vietnam years.

Even better, much, much better for me -- the movie music soundtrack, consisting of two LPs in one album.  Is that a big deal?  Yes.  Why?  Because as years passed, even as compact discs began to dominate the music marketplace, no CD format was ever issued.  Even today, go online and you'll find messages on different sites where both men and women are begging for quality knockoff CDs, just as they searched for cassette tapes previously, and while LPs are available those often cost a lot ($75 and up used!) or their condition is poor.

Featuring Cher, Earth, Wind & Fire, a lot of Bob Esty and other performers, there's just something about the compilation that keeps you alert and upbeat while you're accomplishing other tasks, and because I often judge a movie by the quality of its music, rather than the story (weird, huh?), the Roller Boogie double LP is one of my favorites - right alongside westerns, science fiction, horror, movie and Broadway musicals and miscellaneous dramatic movie soundtracks (hey, I never said I was a total wussy, did I?).

I was listening to that very music this weekend, catching up on news articles previously downloaded for attention later on, when I happened upon a New York Times online piece (August 16, 2015) involving a potential documentary motion picture about President Obama's legacy -- a little something for his future presidential library, and obviously for widespread public consumption.  Journalists Michael D. Shear and Gardiner Harris, writing under the headline, With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency, explained:

The process started as early as the week after Mr. Obama’s re-election in 2012,
when the director Steven Spielberg and the actor Daniel Day-Lewis went to a
White House screening of the movie “Lincoln.” Mr. Spielberg held the president
spellbound, guests said, when he spoke about the use of technology to tell
stories. Mr. Obama has continued those conversations, most recently with Mr.
Spielberg and the studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg over dinner at a Beverly
Hills hotel in California in June, according to some of Mr. Obama’s close
advisers.  The advisers said Mr. Spielberg was focused on helping to develop a “narrative”
for Mr. Obama in the years after he leaves office.

Well, THAT's interesting.  I wonder, will Spielberg transform Obama into an heroic figure, something akin to a key figure from Saving Private Ryan, or perhaps a unique, almost alien genius figure like E.T.?

The very concept of Barack Obama,  whose every maneuver has served to minimize and lessen the influence and international respect of my country, being transformed into a wide screen champion is enough to make one crack.  Nevertheless, if it's true that Steven Spielberg has promised a "narrative" -- that is, what would almost have to be a cinematic makeover of the Obama presidency, to construct a presidency which never actually existed -- I think we all know that the master of movie-making himself will do a bang-up job, and generations to come will watch the historically transformed Obama in awe, digitally enhanced and corrected right down to every heinous Executive Order he ever issued.

We wonder:  Will said documentary include the utter incompetence of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Benghazi not withstanding, as she and Obama almost seemed to march hand in hand as their interference destroyed remnants of hope in Libya?  Egypt?  Will Obama be cited for pulling us out of Iraq pronto so he could put that on his resume -- but consequently allowing ISIS to move in, becoming much more than "the JV team" he mused about?

Will said documentary praise Obama for importing Islam "refugees" and others by the hundreds of thousands to the United States, people whom we not only know nothing about, but whom generally possess no education or skills, and will have no appetite for becoming Americans, as they insist on practicing Sharia in our country? 

Indeed, will there be even a hint to suggest that this president might be trying his hand at a little ethnic cleansing in the United States through immigration?  Will his dogged attempts to pepper the country with Muslims, while apparently excluding Middle East Christians who are the people far more at risk as they continue to be murdered most horribly every day by ISIS and its sympathizers, be in the spotlight?

Will Mr. Spielberg, in his "narrative," interview all the folks with Muslim Brotherhood credentials  who work in -- in -- the White House, and ask why these people are so important and critical to the function of the Obama government when,  were they in Egypt, whose wise leadership has no tolerance for the MB influence, they would likely be arrested as criminals and imprisoned?

How about most of the mainstream media, which panders to Mr. Obama's every whim and is directly responsible for portraying him as an almost god-like figure, even as "Obamacare's" residual costs cause economic suffering among Americans who were perfectly fine with their insurance before this progressive piece of legislative crap hit the streets?  Will major media get a tip of the Hollywood fantasy hat, too, praised and summarily excused for not doing its job?

Don't forget "Fast and Furious," a must-see segment focused upon former attorney general Eric Holder who, sadly, has already slithered off into the sunset, leaving behind a clone to fill his shoes.

And not to forget -- will the famed director show Obama at the podium, speaking about global warming climate change global warming climate change, appearing and sounding almost like a real-life personification of Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still?

Will the Obama story ultimately be presented through the efforts of Steven Spielberg?  What do we know?  Very little, actually.  Just what the NY Times reported.

Oh, but I DO know how The Great and Powerful Spielberg can take what's real and bend it into the fiction and fantasy of his filmed storytelling, and yes, we've visited this subject before.  In 1977, his UFO alien blockbuster, Close Encounters of the Third Kind lit up movie screens and amazed viewers the world over.  Unfortunately, its impact was a tad blunted because, concurrently, an insignificant little film from George Lucas called Star Wars got in the way and caused a tad bit of commotion itself.  Much more, actually.

Yet, imbedded in Close Encounters, not long before its storyline climax began to unfold, there were a few quick seconds where a cluster of newspaper and magazine articles regarding UFOs appeared in a scene intended to help solidify the main character's strange and rabid concern for the topic.  Among the articles was the title page from one of my own Argosy UFO magazine articles (see the black page with the white UFO circle).  Used as a prop, my article was tucked among others, some of which I recognized as pages from other REAL publications.  While many motion pictures use phony newspaper and magazine articles just for "show," Spielberg's crew went for as much "real" as possible, and I understand that. 

Of course, I received no payment for my material becoming the stuff of which fantasy cinema is made. though I might have accepted $1.29 at the time (by 2015, I suspect I'm owed more than 20,000,000 dollars, and I was thinking of taking it to a collection agency -- but they would laugh me out of the office. . .just kidding. . .).  As it turns out, this particular article was one of the worst I ever wrote. . .yet Spielberg, Inc. took the bold graphic announcing my conjecture and used it to build upon his cinematic fantasy.  In short, my work became a Spielberg product of sorts.  A voiceless cartoon, a figment, a restroom convenience.  That's showbiz.

The anticipated someday Obama "narrative" will likely pretty up the legacy of the worst U.S. president ever, transforming he and his meddling wife into the George and Martha Washington of our time. It's rather terrifying to realize the might wielded by cinematic story-tellers, the practitioners of digital magic and edits, who exercise the power and wealth to change anything they want -- even history. 

I fear that the leaking sewer of hope and change, Obama's true legacy, woven and spun into cinematic gold,  will rival Roller Boogie's flash and glitter, though the enhanced visuals, concoctions and evasive skating prowess presented as truth should be even more visually stunning, intended particularly to thrill and amaze the future's young and clueless.  Now, that's a motion picture I won't care for at all.  Even if the music's nice.