February 14, 2012

"I’ve been wondering for a while now when we were going to see an Obama-inflected Hollywood cinema."

Writes J. Hoberman in a New York Review of Books blog post that begins with an analysis of the "Halftime in America" Super Bowl ad.
The longing for Obama (or an Obama) can be found in two prescient 2008 movies—WALL-E (the world saved by an endearing little dingbot, community organizer for an extinct community) and Milk (portrait of another creative community organizer—not to mention a precedent-shattering politician who, it’s very often reiterated, presented himself as a Messenger of Hope). Nothing comparable has appeared since Obama’s inauguration although there is a mildly Obama-iste aspect to any movie featuring an unconventional protagonist, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Haywire (both with very tough gals) or even The Social Network (celebration of world-historical nerd), as well as the not undeserved love showered on The Hurt Locker—a two-fisted, Howard Hawks-type war movie directed by a lady!
Seems like, for Hoberman, Obama is always there and always not there. Movies about "very tough gals" have to do with Obama? Movies directed by a lady are Obama-iste?! Hoberman's longing for an Obama tinged world is somehow all about women. And robots and gay guys. Intimations of Obama, leaving us still longing for Obama, wondering where he is. And now, suddenly... Clint Eastwood!

Ha ha. That was the most fatuous thing I've read all day. Including a few Supreme Court cases.

51 comments:

Thorley Winston said...

It could be that the idea of Obama (which was whatever less discerning people wanted it to be) makes for a better movie than the reality of Obama. Look at the way television and comic books fawned over Obama when he first ran for President. It’s harder to make a movie about the idea after people have had to live with reality for nearly four years.

TML said...

Isn't the whole "Pirates of the Caribbean" oeuvre about Barry?

Rose said...

I'm sick of the Obama infatuation. And the JournOlists who push all things Obama all day long, all year long.

We're living in some alternate universe, please tell me where the portal is - I want to go back to where good is good, and up is up, not down.

TML said...

Maybe we need to see "Death of a President: 2" Or would that be too, too on the nose?

Jay said...

celebration of world-historical nerd

And here I thought Obama was all cool and played basketball, brought guns to knife fights and got in people's faces!?

Tell me who's ass that nerd has kicked??!?

Balfegor said...

I think this gets Obama completely wrong -- his public persona has nothing whatsoever to do with "community organising" or such or anything half so grubby. It's gloss, smoothness, glamour mixed with a frisson of the exotic (but -- raised by whites and trained in exclusive, posh prep schools and the Ivy League -- not too exotic for the "progressive" bourgeoisie). I mean, think about that old photo of him done up in traditional Kenyan clothing -- sure people tried to use it to make him seem foreign, but on the contrary, it makes him look like nothing so much as the preppy he is. He's got a polo shirt and slacks on. He might as well be Mitt Romney. (I was going to say "Prince Charles," except Prince Charles actually looks pretty at-home in non-European dress).

Anyhow, Wall-E could hardly be further from the Obama image.

Jay said...

The longing for Obama

Yes, I'm longing for Obama to vacate the White House and go to Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard or wherever it is Nouveau riche people go to pretend they have class.

Thorley Winston said...

Anyhow, Wall-E could hardly be further from the Obama image.

I saw Wall-E in the theaters and thought that I enjoyed it the first time I saw it. But much like Forest Gump and Dances with Wolves, the more I think about it, the shallower it seems and the less I want to see it again.

Henry said...

How can Hoberman not mention Rango (2011)? It's a movie about an unqualified chameleon.

LordSomber said...

"Seems like, for Hoberman, Obama is always there and always not there."

Don't you mean Being There?

Coketown said...

Wall-e was not a community organizer. He was a janitor. A mechanized janitor, stealing jobs from humanoid janitors just like ATMs. Presciently, the Axiom showed us an Obama-inspired future in which the government superstructure raises us from birth to death and turns us into fat idiots. It controls every aspect of our lives, from Cupcakes-in-a-Cups to perfect weather to telling us when playtime by the pool is over. A sort of intergalactic Europe.

Anyway, I always thought Dear Leader-inflected cinema was called propaganda and went out of fashion when Leni Reifenstahl used it to too-great effect.

DADvocate said...

I keep longing for Obama. Longing for him to go away. Far away. Somewhere in the distant past.

edutcher said...

OK, if GodZero is Rowdy, does that make Michelle Mr Favor, and Halo Joe Wishbone - or would it be Mushy?

In that case, Jarrett is Pete and Panetta is Clay.

So Sasha and Malia are Quince and Scarlett? And the Hildabeast is Hey Soos (or Jesus, if you prefer)?

Freeman Hunt said...

Seems like, for Hoberman, Obama is always there and always not there. Movies about "very tough gals" have to do with Obama? Movies directed by a lady are Obama-iste?! Hoberman's longing for an Obama tinged world is somehow all about women. And robots and gay guys. Intimations of Obama, leaving us still longing for Obama, wondering where he is. And now, suddenly... Clint Eastwood!

Ha ha ha.

While reading I thought, "Surely she doesn't agree with this. It's crazy."

X said...

a two-fisted, Howard Hawks-type war movie directed by a lady!

in case you ever wondered why Point Break was so ridiculous

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Why does Hoberman evoke an image of a little dog humping Obama's leg?

traditionalguy said...

Fatuous... we are not talking about Adele again?

And everyone knows Mother Michelle saves the children from becoming fatuous.

Freeman Hunt said...

Pantheists for Obama!

Coketown said...

Also, Wall-e was more of a vulture capitalist than community organizer. He found broken-down Wall-e bots, picked them over, utilized whatever valuable parts were present, and discarded the remainder before going about on his merry way. If it weren't for such resilience and dynamic adaptation, the world would not have been saved.

Mitt Romney is always there and always not there.

(I don't think Hoberman could have picked a worse example of a movie allegedly longing for an Obama. And calling Obama a dingbot is obviously code. "Endearing dingbot." The paternalistic condescension evident in that phrase is digusting.)

Thorley Winston said...

in case you ever wondered why Point Break was so ridiculous
The only thing about Point Break that I found ridiculous was that Johnny Utah didn’t shoot the bank robber when he first had the chance and instead fired his gun into the air. Granted it would have been a much shorter film but I continue to enjoy it on repeat viewings.

DADvocate said...

Touch gal movies usually have gals that aren't tough, just some skinny, hot chic. At least Gina Carano is actually tough. She'd probably kick Obama, or Hoberman's, ass.

Icepick said...

... in case you ever wondered why Point Break was so ridiculous.

Whoa, back up there, pal! Point Break had Patrick Swayze AND Keeanu Reeves AND Lori Petty AND Gary Busey AND John C. McGinley. It even had Anthony Kiedis! It looked good, it was crazy, it had great images (President Reagan in formal wear and an impromptu flame thrower!) and surfing. The only way that movie could have been cooler is if John Milius had written the screenplay! Who cares if it didn't make any sense?!

Freeman Hunt said...

Gina is Obama. I am Obama. You are Obama. They are Obama. We are Obama. Obama is in all things, and all things are in Obama.

wyo sis said...

"That was the most fatuous thing I've read all day."
I love that word. Fatuous. It's a word that's used too little, especially considering all the fatuous things people say.

Coketown said...

Freeman, that pantheist-inspired chant was very whimsical and soothing, and will make a perfect yoga mantra. "I am Obama...you are Obama...Obama is in all things...all things are in Obama..."

Thorley Winston said...

Although come to think of it, the ending kind of angered me. It would have been much more satisfying for Johnny Utah to take Bodhi into custody instead of getting to have one final ride. Not only do you avoid the improbable chance that he could escape, you force him to realize that he’ll have to spend the rest of his life knowing he missed the chance to ride the wave of a lifetime. The guy was responsible for the deaths of Angelo, an undercover police officer and a bank security guard – he doesn’t get to go out in a blaze of glory. He gets to spend the rest of his life in prison or on death row.

bgates said...

Coketown is on fire.

But there has been "Obama-inflected Hollywood cinema" for a long time. "Deep Impact", where awesome black President Morgan Freeman uses his deep voice to soothe the country as America is destroyed during his term (unexpectedly). The whole Magic Negro genre - "Bruce Almighty", "The Legend of Bagger Vance", "The Green Mile", and many more, where the white protagonist is saved by a black sidekick with supernatural powers.

Then there's "Hancock", where a black superhero overcomes his substance abuse problem and doubts about the circumstances of his birth to save an ungrateful America.

"Mission to Moscow" probably belongs on the list too....

Icepick said...

Although come to think of it, the ending kind of angered me.

That's where John Milius would have improved things. He would have probably let Brody paddle out, and then have Utah shot him with a sniper rifle just as he's catching the wave.

X said...

Thorley, what did you think of the end of Varsity Blues? Mox said he never played again, even though the team had just qualified for the state playoffs and the other QB had a broken leg. And a 5'2" go to wide receiver? Tweeder please. Same writer.

Thorley Winston said...

That's where John Milius would have improved things. He would have probably let Brody paddle out, and then have Utah shot him with a sniper rifle just as he's catching the wave.

Not good enough, Brodie needs to realize he’s lost and spend the rest of his short*, miserable life knowing that he missed out on the one thing he wanted more than anything in the world. I’d be content if they flew him by helicopter over the wave (but secured so he couldn’t jump out) and forced him to watch before Johnny whisperes “this is for Angelo and the others you murdered you sunofab***” before busting a cap in him. Not as good as having him rot in “the system” he spent so long fighting before we decide we’re good and ready to dispose of him.

* The guy robbed banks, kidnapped a woman and was responsible for the deaths of a police officer and an FBI Agent – there is no way this isn’t a federal death penalty case.

X said...

Of course Johnny Utah let Brohdie go. Utah was a real
blue flame special. What did you expect? What crappy writing.

Icepick said...

Thorley, the end does make a certain amount of sense, though. Utah was enamoured with Brody's philosophy of life, even if ultimately he didn't approve of it. The end follows from the other sequence you mention, when Utah doesn't shoot Brody in the LA River. If he won't shoot at that point, then he'll let Brody try to ride the wave at the end. By then Utah knows it's suicidal (this was before tow-in surfing - no one catchs a wave that big by paddling in), and probably rationalizes it as saving the tax payer money. It's not justice, but it is in-line with Utah's character and his infatuation with Brody, a love/hate bromance if there ever was one!

KenK said...

Didn't the Village Voice fire him recently? Good call on their part if that snip is typical of his output.

Icepick said...

And shit, we've all been getting the name wrong - it's Bodhi, as in Bodhisattva

t-man said...

Well, it looks like Hollywood is finally pullint out all of the stops on Obama-themed movies. In theatres this week alone were:
The Darkest Hour
Young Adult
Pariah
The Devil Inside
The Sitter
Shame

and
Puss in Boots

Icepick said...

Excuse me, Thorley got it right.

damikesc said...

Given his fondness for mom jeans, perhaps the writer is noting that Obama isn't exactly laden with masculinity.

Gina is Obama.

Gina is competent, a fighter, and hot.

Obama isn't her.

Penny said...

There's nothing the Hollywood insiders would like more than making a thinly veiled homage to their one and only.

The problem is as it always is when we're talking about private investors. They won't give up the money without reasonably expecting a return on their investment.

It wouldn't be a risky venture, it'd be downright crazy!

EMD said...

Wall-E an Obama movie?

As if.

Pogo said...

The only Obama movie so far was Bridesmaids.

Chip Ahoy said...

No wait. Are you trying to tell me that the Harry Potter movies are not about Obama?

chickenlittle said...

I’ve been wondering for a while now when we were going to see an Obama-inflected Hollywood cinema.

Inflected seems a poor word choice in that it's main meaning is grammatical.

Perhaps the headline writer meant "infected" or "genuflected."

Jess said...

Seems like, for Hoberman, Obama is always there and always not there.

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish, he'd go away!

-- Attributed to Hughes Mearns

Balfegor said...

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish, he'd go away
!

Or perhaps:

At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair
.

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Scott M said...

Having three small kids, owning the DVD, and having watched WALL-E innumerable times (frankly, because I liked it), I call myself an expert on the subject.

He's fully of shit with his "dingbot community organizer" quip. There is absolutely nothing in that story that would back up a single letter of how he's trying to characterize it.

If you really want to deconstruct the story, the little dingbot did everything because of his love for another robot and only contributed to "saving the world" through his self-serving need to meet the needs of the robot he was in love with...nothing more.

Alex said...

The real question is "How is Downton Abbey like Obama"?

William said...

The No Drama Obama moniker is a fair name. His blandness surpasses that of Romney. You're really reaching for it when you cite him as a model for Wall-E. Shouldn't an inspirational leader inspire something beyond distrust of wealthy people?

EMD said...

The real question is "How is Downton Abbey like Obama"?

And here, I've been referring to it as Downtown Abbey, as opposed to Uptown Abbey.

Jose_K said...

very tough gals" have to do with Obama? Big Sis? Hillary ? Wise latina? Kagan? Michelle?

Jose_K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.