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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > TV > Tribute To Ronald Reagan (Acorn)

Tribute To Ronald Reagan (Acorn Media)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: C-



We have reviewed several DVD on the late actor and President, Ronald Reagan, but the worst and most manipulative is dubbed “The Official Authorized Video” and was made in its first version in 1988.  This expanded version of that program is here on DVD as A Tribute To Ronald Reagan (2003) and is so explicitly trying to update the propaganda work that this is, making one realize that maybe Michael Moore has been fighting against this piece ever since.  Well, two wrongs don’t make a right, though Moore’s works are not as bad as this.


The first part of the program opens up with a brief-but-telling chronological compilation of footage from Civil Rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s, right up to the U.S./Iran hostage crisis.  Then, a flourish of music kicks in and the voice of God narrator tells us how “one man” arrived who “knew” how we were thinking, what the “real America” was and could bring the country back together.  It neglects that the country was a wreck thanks to the Conservatism of the 1950s, there were legitimate reasons for fights for civil rights and the counterculture.  So the truth is that he was there to rollback the “chaos” and become its ultimate distraction.


The program knows the Reagan Neo-Conservative playbook to a tee, however, in its appeals to tell us “the father” has returned to bring order.  That he is “such a great guy” who is unquestionable and “knows best” in every way, shape and form.  That so many people bought into this is a sad statement about the failure of education and democracy in The United States proves those who risked the most and made a difference in the 1960s and 1970s failed to finish what they started.


As this show went on, I was amazed how consistent it was in dishing out more myths than just about all the John Wayne films ever made.  In many ways, the former actor was much like Wayne in his early character-actor persona, especially in sharing the same genres.  This would have been more obvious if Reagan had continued in Hollywood instead of politics, though many would argue he was still acting and that this DVD was the ultimate proof.


Even if we give this the benefit of the doubt, we could not without going psychotic.  The amazing depth of denial it takes to know you are not being hoodwinked.  You have to be in a cloud to buy all this, and the success of the man and this propaganda proves how many childish adults we really had and still have in the U.S., without overgeneralizing.  This is not a program meant for the educated, it is meant for those who can be suckered.


Sure, Reagan made some memorable statements, and it is irrelevant whether he wrote all the material or not.  His advisers early on too advantage of holes in the liberal programs, the spending that did not add up, the Socialist downside of things that would not have been compatible ultimately with the country.  Instead of fixing things, the Democrats thought the Conservatives would not have a chance to succeed and lazy Democrats were the result ever since.  With that, this propaganda is able to hammer its points in any way it wants and make them stick.  Since the Reagan Years, the country has never been the same since.  Ironically, this program unintentionally shows why for the worst in ways the creators could never have imagined.


The footage varies in quality from kinescopes to NTSC analog footage from just before Reagan got ill with the scourge of Alzheimer’s.  Needless to say, the producers treat the footage with the greatest possible care like we have rarely seen in all of DVD history.  I still think he actually looked better on the other programs, because the overproduction makes him come across as phony here, counterproductive to what the creators intended.  Those who disliked this as this critic did can take solace in that, while the reason it comes across so bad is one that will be kept a secret so that this problem cannot be corrected.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is a mix of monophonic sound and some simple stereo.


Extras include a kinescope of the Time For Choosing program Reagan did to help Barry Goldwater win the Presidency, and though it failed to help Goldwater, the sponsors decided to put their money on Reagan instead.  You also get his reasoning for going against the PATCO union when air traffic controllers went on strike.  He differentiated between government and private-sector unions, but his legacy was in breaking as many unions as possible.  You also get his 1992 farewell speech, last public address in 1994 and William F. Buckley Jr. discussion from 1999 on Reagan.  No title we have ever covered has ever preached so loudly to the already converted.


Alexander Hamilton said a nation that prefers disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one, as Reagan quotes in his Goldwater campaign speech.  That has a haunting resonance unintended now, and offers us something to consider in this ugly time in our country as the media manipulation and lies form government and corporations is at an all time high.  This show was just practice.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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