Archive for January, 2019

Vice

January 3, 2019

Vice is a biographical film about Dick Cheney, written and directed by Adam McKay.

This film came out at a propitious moment. All too many are now looking back at the Bush Administration with rose-tinted glasses. McKay’s film reminds us that it was actually a disaster, the consequences of which we are still living with. And it subtly implies that Trump is one of these consequences.

The film follows the rise of Cheney (Christian Bale) from working as a lineman in Wyoming to becoming Vice President, and, arguably, the most powerful man in the world. However, this film is almost equally about Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who acted as a sort of Mephistopheles to Cheney, when the latter was young. Cheney became a Congressional aide to Rumsfeld when he was in the House of Representatives. When Rumsfeld joined the Nixon White House, he brought Cheney with him. As Nixon and Kissinger are planning the bombing of Cambodia, Cheney says to Rumsfeld, “What do we believe in?” Rumsfeld responds by laughing. The answer is left unstated: beliefs are unimportant. Only power is important, obtaining it and wielding it.

The film ends with Cheney truculently defending everything he did. The implication is that we can’t get rid of the Dick Cheneys of this world. The most we can hope to do is to try to minimize the damage that they do. I think this is too grim. It is possible to build a better world. We just have to figure out how.

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