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The Butler didn't do it

August 24, 2013

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KRNG 101.3 FM Reno. Listen live Saturdays at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.]

After taking Oprah Winfrey to task last week for spurious self-promoting charges of racism against some poor shop clerk in Switzerland, I decided to see the movie Oprah was trying to promote: The Butler. It's a movie about race, of course, which is why Oprah felt compelled to invent the Swiss purse incident. She figured being a victim of racism herself would make her role in the movie more believable.

(It didn't.)

Billionaire media darling as victim isn't playing quite as well as Oprah hoped, but the movie is doing fairly well in spite of being dumb, dishonest, and poorly acted.

Hollywood loves this sort of crap—a two-hour racial bloodletting where they get to sling mud at America and wallow in bushels of wonderful horrible self-guilt. You have to be a masochist to watch the result, especially if you're white, because you know walking into the theatre there won't be a single moment of redemptive human behavior from a white person, and probably not one single positive event in the whole movie.

There wasn't—it's gloom, doom, and bitterness from start to finish. Oh wait, there was one positive moment at the very end: when Barack Obama was elected president.

The only white person in the movie who managed to be on the right side of history was a young kid shown participating in the famous lunch counter sit-in at the Greensboro Woolworth's... and even that guy didn't remain unblemished. The movie's director had him shout racial insults for an uncomfortably long time, during a "practice" protest, until he made a young black girl cry. That was to make sure moviegoers understand the primary message being communicated: that all white people are bad, even the good ones.

Here's a really weird thing, something that tells you a lot about the ignorance of Hollywood scriptwriters: there was no white guy at that Greensboro lunch counter, nor was there a black girl sitting next to him. It was four courageous young black men, joined on the second day by two more young black men. (After that the protest continued for six months, so it's possible at some point a white guy sat with the protesters, but not that first day.)

You can Google this kind of stuff. It's a never ending source of wonder that Hollywood writers still don't know about Google.

The real-life person who supposedly inspired this movie, Eugene Allen, worked in the White House from 1952, when Harry Truman was president, until 1986, when Ronald Reagan was president. Mr. Allen by all accounts led a very happy and successful life—proud of what he did for a living, happily married to his wife for 65 years, well-adjusted successful son who served honorably in Vietnam—which makes the storyline in the movie utterly bizarre.

Although it brags about being "inspired by a true story," this movie is completely fictional. And it's poorly-written, uneducated, stupid fiction at that. Worst of all, the director and writers insulted and demeaned the life of Eugene Allen by turning his character into an unhappy frustrated victim and his wife into a whiny alcoholic who sneaks off regularly for sex with the next door neighbor. (That would be Oprah. Like anyone would chase Oprah around the neighborhood. Please.)

The back story for Eugene turns him into a criminal, which he never was, and the movie invents a non-existent older son who spends his whole life bitterly protesting against racism, first as a Martin Luther King disciple, then as a Malcolm X-loving black nationalist. The fact that one guy was Christian and the other Muslim, so there was very little crossover, is just one of many historical facts that somehow escaped the writers' notice. Google.com, fellas, Google.com. It's on that new-fangled Internet thingy.

The writers apparently don't even know when slavery ended in the United States. In the movie, the seven-year-old future butler starts out picking cotton with his mother and father in Georgia... in 1926, about forty years after slavery ended. The movie doesn't specifically call them slaves, but the white plantation owner takes his mother into a shed to rape her, his father doesn't object, and then the evil white guy pulls out a pistol and shoots the father dead for daring to speak to him, so slavery was clearly the situation being projected.

When a movie starts like that, you know immediately there won't be any balanced characters nor anything resembling historical accuracy. The presidents are all caricatures: stereotypical white blockheads with the Democrats being generally good hearted and the Republicans being generally evil minded. For some reason the writers have the butler starting under Eisenhower rather than Truman, perhaps to avoid the awkward fact that Truman, a Democrat, had a hissy fit about Sammy Davis Jr. visiting the White House with his white wife.

[Correction: it was John F. Kennedy who had the hissy fit about Sammy Davis Jr.'s white wife, not Truman. Truman used the n-word on black congressman Adam Clayton Powell for calling Mrs. Truman "the last wife." Naturally, neither incident made it into the movie.]

God forbid that anyone in Hollywood produce an honest portrayal of the Democrat Party's racist past.

As for Republican presidents, Eisenhower is portrayed as reluctant to enforce civil rights in Arkansas, Nixon is shown pathetically campaigning for votes among the butler staff in 1960 and so drunk in 1974 he can't sit up straight, and Reagan is accused of eviscerating civil rights and then expressing self-doubt about it to the butler. If you asked the writers which civil rights legislation, specifically, Reagan "eviscerated," you wouldn't get an answer, because the accusation is a steamy, smelly, rotten pile of buffalo poop.

Historical events in Hollywood movies are so consistently inaccurate, maybe it's time to stop giving these cretins the benefit of the doubt by assuming the mistakes arise from ignorance. Maybe it's time we consider a far nastier truth: these ratfinks in Hollywood are just liars.

With an agenda.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?" — Bertrand Russell

"All warfare is based on deception." — Sun Tzu

"Knowledge of God's Word is a bulwark against deception, temptation, accusation, even persecution." — Edwin Louis Cole


From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       


Followup 1:

December 15, 2013

Two developments since I wrote about The Butler four months ago. Number one, the movie in general and Oprah Winfrey in particular are not collecting awards like they expected. Golden Globes nominations are out now and Oprah was completey snubbed, as was the director, the screenplay, and Forest Whitaker for the lead role. So much for Oprah trying to drum up sympathy and publicity with that phony racial incident in Switzerland.

Number two, four days after my column was published, an opinion piece by four historians was published in the Washington Post. They're angry about the historical inaccuracies in the movie, in particular the way Ronald Reagan was portrayed. In the movie, for example, the butler is invited to a state dinner by the Reagans to honor him for his many years in the White House, and Forest Whitaker acts uncomfortable and humiliated to be there. In real life, Eugene Allen felt no such thing and was especially fond of the Reagans. See what Hollywood does? They take actual historical events and twist them until viewers are left with an impression that is directly the opposite of what happened.

August 31, 2013 - Great article and follow-up comments. Sadly, I'm concerned that Hollywood is vastly overtaking our textbooks as far as educating our youth. – Patti, Michigan

August 25, 2013 - Great movie review J.P.! Glad I saved my money by not seeing it. Plus anything with Jane Fonda in it is boycotted in this house. Welcome to poetic license and revisionist history. – Pam T., Virginia

August 24, 2013 - Great and perfect comment Sam... could not have said it better! Excellent commentary Jim... you are right on... and I will boycott that movie based on what you wrote and because that traitor Jane Fonda is playing Mrs. Reagan in the movie! – Mary, Michigan

August 24, 2013 - It does seem as though Hollywood is the epicenter of American decay. The movie makers and film stars seem to share the common goal of pushing anything contrary to what is good and beneficial to society. However, I was listening to a monologue on the radio yesterday and the gentleman speaking offered a different perspective. He was talking about C.S. Lewis and the subjects of his various novels not being intentionally written on Christianity, but because Lewis was a Christian, his stories naturally reflected his worldview. As the world becomes more and more antagonistic towards Christianity, we will naturally see this reflected in film and art, and it will appear as if those in Hollywood share a very evil and thoughtful agenda. The reality is that they are completely backwards in their views of right and wrong, and who the real heros and villians of society are. It's the blind leading the blind. – Samantha, Michigan



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