Death of a President

So, I finally got to watch “Death of a President” last night, after I sat on my roof and watched the fireworks. It was a nice transition.

You might not have heard about the film or seen it, since the release has been heavily repressed within the United States. For those of you who don’t know about the movie, it’s a controversial 2006 film about a what-if scenario. What if the President was assassinated? Would would happen then?

When I read initial reviews, I didn’t realize that the movie was actually directly about a theoretical assassination of the current President in office, which I thought was extremely bold. I cannot imagine that the President’s administration was very happy with the film, and certainly plenty of people spoke out very angrily about it when it was released. Even liberal media sources like NPR refused to run promotional material for the film.

I have to admit, however, that I rather liked it. Not, I assure you, because I think that the President should be assassinated. Such an act would be, as the movie depicts, senseless and horrible. However, I think that the movie was extremely plausible and very well done.

It’s set up like a documentary, reminding me a great deal of something you’d see on the History Channel or something. According to the film, the events depicted occur on 19 October, 2007. The movie includes interviews with an assortment of people, ranging from a speechwriter for the President to people who were detained after the crime. It also integrates an assortment of archival footage, both real and contrived.

The film had a grainy, realistic sense to it which really made me feel like I was there. The scenes of the protests outside the President’s speech were chaotic, and a great depiction of the mixture of peaceful and violent demonstrators present at every protest. The moment of the assassination is equally chaotic, and the events are not initially clear from the footage, much like I imagine they would be in the real world.

I think that one of the reasons people reaction so strongly against the film is that it was the product of a British film-maker. I’ve noticed that we Americans tend to get very riled up when someone else criticizes us, even when we secretly agree with the criticism. The film really is made from the outside looking in, and I think it’s a very insightful look at American society. It’s also, in my opinion, depressingly accurate. Were such a situation to be realized, I think that the events would unfold much like they did in the film, with law enforcement rushing to make an arrest and Congress pushing through more legislation to strip us of our privacy.

I disagree with the criticism. I do not think that the intent was to “exploit” a situation. It was to posit a hypothesis, and to get people thinking about the world that they live in. I do think that every American should see this movie, because, if nothing else, it will spur serious conversation and thought.

Is this how we want things to happen?

Let me stress, again, for my NSA readers, that the film puts forth an entirely hypothetical situation which I do not condone. I do not think that assassination is a productive or meaningful way of expressing political discontent, and I do not wish it on anyone, least of all our current head of state. I eagerly await his departure from office, either in the conventional way or through impeachment, but I see no reason to deprive him of his life, despite his apparent unwillingness to grant the same courtesy to others.

[Death of a President]