“Vice” ‒ A Docudrama That Is Neither a Documentary Nor Dramatic

By | January 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

What can we say about the movie “Vice”? It lasts 2 hours 23 minutes, but seems longer. The title is meant to be a double entendre: Dick Cheney was Vice President, and according to the movie makers he exemplified the vices of arrogance and greed. But in fact the title is a triple entendre: The movie itself exemplifies the vices of arrogance and mendacity.

Christian Bale and Amy Adams put in excellent performances as Dick and Lynne Cheney. They do their best to portray the modern versions of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that director-screen writer Adam McKay provides for them. Still, his “Saturday Night Live” background comes through in the cartoonish scenes and overblown dialogue.

Sam Rockwell does his best in the few minutes of screen time allotted him to portray a moronic, giggling George W. Bush. The message is that Cheney was the real President, while Bush bumbled his way around the White House in a perpetual fog. Watching this fabricated portrayal, one would never suspect that Bush earned a BA in history from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Meanwhile, Al Gore, his opponent in the 2000 election, flunked out of law school and dropped out of divinity school. Nevertheless, Gore is still being presented (inaccurately) as some sort of genius who discovered the Love Canal toxic site and “took the lead” in developing the Internet. In fact, he is some sort of huckster who made millions by spouting off about climate change.

What else can we say about “Vice”?

● In the movie, Cheney is “expelled” from Yale for drunkenness ‒ which, if true, would thin the ranks of Yale students to the point that the university might close its doors. In reality, Cheney failed academically. Later he went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Wyoming, as well as to begin but not complete work on a PhD. But the movie failed to mention anything but the “expulsion” from Yale.

● In the movie, global-warming doubters alter the name to “climate change,” because it seems less threatening. In reality, global-warming activists changed the name, because it covers everything: warming or cooling, floods or droughts, tornados or windless days, whatever. Besides, “warming” can be refuted by record cold temperatures, but “climate change” can never be refuted, because the climate is always changing. An idea that can never be refuted is a quasi-religious belief, not a scientific hypothesis.

● In the movie, Cheney’s prior service as member of Congress, secretary of defense, and White House chief of staff are mentioned only briefly in retrospect. In reality, most people would feel they had led a highly successful life if they had those achievements to their credit.

● In the movie, Cheney carelessly shoots a hunting partner with a shotgun while sitting in the back seat of a car. That is, he negligently fires the gun without reason. In reality, they were walking, and Cheney swung on a bird while the partner was approaching from the side. That is, it was still carelessness, but not gross negligence. Cheney was careless for not being aware of who was around him, but the hunting partner was also careless for not announcing himself as he approached the line.

● In the movie, on 9/11 the White House staff are understandably alarmed and agitated, while Cheney sits quietly seeing an “opportunity,” as the narrator explains. Apparently the “opportunity” is how to make money. The only action Cheney is shown taking is to order the shooting down of aircraft approaching civilian targets ‒ which fortunately was not necessary. The passengers on United 93 rose up, so the hijackers crashed in into a field and not the Capitol or the White House.

● In the movie, Cheney did nothing else on 9/11. In reality, Cheney took other actions. He advised President Bush, who was in Florida, to take a circuitous route back to Washington. He and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld put our military on DEFCON 3, with a warning to be ready for DEFCON 2. He had himself and his staff evacuated to a “secure location” in case the White House was the next target, which it might have been. In effect, he was in charge until Bush returned.

● [Spoiler Alert.] In the movie, the narrator turns out to be the heart donor for Cheney’s transplant that saved his life. This fictional character had been a soldier in Iraq, thus insinuating the subconscious notion that he somehow died because of Cheney, though he is shown being hit by a car. In reality, the donor, as usual, was anonymous. Thankfully, the myriad “jokes” about Cheney’s heart condition that disgraced late-night TV are omitted from the movie. Thankfully, even Hollywood propagandists may have limits.

● In the movie, Cheney’s multiple heart attacks are shown. But nothing is mentioned about the fact that Cheney had a lucrative position as CEO of Halliburton, but gave it up for the high-stress environment of Washington politics. To the movie makers, apparently this shows that Cheney’s lust for power overcame his fears for his own health. To others, this might show that Cheney’s desire to serve his country in yet another capacity overcame his fears for his own health.

It all depends on one’s point of view. And the point of view of this movie is the point of view of “Saturday Night Live”: Clearly leftist, with a liberal dose of anarchy. This makes for a long-running and mildly funny TV show, but a long-running and not at all amusing movie.

As Dr. Goebbels knew, the first requirement of propaganda is that it be interesting. And as Claas Relotius learned recently, the second requirement is that the lies not be obvious. Hollywood would do well to heed these lessons. Or better still, Hollywood could stop making propaganda films and go back to trying to entertain us. That is a difficult enough task.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

www.stolinsky.com

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