From Character Assassination to Real Assassination?

By: Thomas Lindaman

In an election year already rife with controversy, there’s another one brewing, but this one doesn’t really involved political parties. There’s a new film titled “Death of a President” making the film festival rounds that cranks the controversy all the way to 11 (because it’s, like, one higher.). The film shows doctored footage of President George W. Bush being assassinated in 2007, thus making Vice President Dick Cheney President. (At this point for the Soros Muppets, it turns into a horror film.) The rest of the film deals with various issues arising from the assassination, such as the impact of a stronger Patriot Act, the stifling of civil liberties, and whether Cheney is actually a cyborg sent back in time to prevent Democrats from winning the White House.

Okay, so I made up that last one. Besides, everyone knows it’s really Howard Dean who is the aforementioned cyborg.

Although the film is a drama, it hits a sore spot with me because of the premise. Assassinating a President is a shocking event, even in today’s society where we consider politicians only a step or two above used car dealers on the scumbag ladder. I don’t care if it hurts the realism of a film, you don’t show stuff like that, period. End of story. Thank you for playing. Here are some lovely parting gifts.

I’m not saying the subject matter of an America after the Patriot Act is verboten, but I have to question why the director felt the need to show the assassination, doctored footage or no. The same points could be made with a fictional President and Vice President. Granted, the Soros Muppets already believe Bush is a fictional President, but you get the idea.

Another problem I have with the film is the use of doctored footage. The director filmed Bush and Cheney in Chicago and told the Secret Service that he was filming a documentary, a little white lie. Not even considering the ethical dilemma that arises from showing the assassination of a current President for dramatic effect, this alone raises other ethical issues. Is it justified to film a President under a false premise when you know the real reason is going to be controversial? Is it still a docudrama based on current events if some of the footage is doctored? Is it right to make money off the misery of others? Then again, if it’s good enough for Jerry Springer.

Defenders of the film say that we shouldn’t judge “Death of a President” until we actually see it or else we run the risk of unfairly judging it on partial information. Normally, this would be a valid point, but the hype surrounding the movie has given us an insight into the movie that wouldn’t be there if it were not as well known. And let’s not forget the title, “Death of a President.” Maybe it’s just my “Spidey sense” tingling here, but I think the title gives away the film’s subject, at least in part. If there’s a film titled “George W. Bush Is a Poopyhead”, you’re probably not going to see a balanced discussion on Bush’s Presidency.

At the heart of this controversy is bound to be a discussion of free speech. Let me save us all a bunch of time here by pointing out the real issue isn’t whether the filmmaker has a right to make “Death of a President”; he does. The real issue is one of decency. I’m not referring to the televangelist version of decency, either. I mean the kind of decency human beings are born with. Just because you can say or do something does not give you automatic license to say or do it. Somehow, we’ve lost that concept and have reverted to acting on impulse without regard to the consequences. Need I remind you that’s how we got the Macarena?

I’m sure there will be a number of people who will go see “Death of a President” based on buzz alone, but I won’t be one of them. And neither will actor Kevin Costner, who offered the following commentary:

“.there’s a certain thing we can’t lose as human beings, which is empathy for maybe the hardest job in the world..Whether we think it’s being performed right or not we can’t, like, wish.or think that’s even cute.”

Mr. Costner, that one line alone makes up for “Waterworld.”

At least there’s still one decent man in Hollywood.

Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of

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