Tribute To Ronald
Reagan (Acorn Media)
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
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