a little more on party and perspective


Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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10 Responses

  1. E.D. Kain says:

    The HBO series “John Adams” actually had one or two pretty good scenes that cast Samuel in a none-too-favorable light. There was one tar-and-feathering in particular that was quite brutal to watch.Report

  2. E.D. Kain says:

    I should add, that after watching this scene I donated all my Samuel Adams t-shirts to Goodwill.Report

  3. E.D. – I didn’t watch nearly enough of that mini-series, but I saw the scenes to which you refer. And you’re right – Sam Adams was definitely portrayed in a pretty negative light in those scenes. By contrast, in the episodes I saw, John Adams was portrayed most positively in the scenes where he chose his principles over his (for lack of a better word) “party,” particularly in his defense of the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre.Report

  4. E.D. Kain says:

    Very true, Mark. Overall the series portrayed Adams as principled to a fault, however. Stubborn and prickly–his great strength and fatal flaw.Report

  5. James says:

    I haven’t seen the sprawling flick — that’s PS’s department — so I was angling mostly to cast an “OK, fine” attitude toward Che’s dirty deeds (and the cinematic content that results) as an affirmative, not a passive act. Sort of like how Charles Taylor says secularization isn’t adequately explained by telling “subtraction stories.” It’s one thing to insist, as I have not done, for some quantum of moral content in films. It’s another to suggest that what might look like the absence of moral content from one angle appears more firmly as the presence of anti-moral content from the other. Which is which when? I would be cautious, here, but still brave enough to venture to start arguments that might yield some at least operational answers.Report

  6. James says:

    Erm, insert comma after “passive”, sub “on some quantum” for “for […]”.Report

  7. E.D. Kain says:

    Larison has some thoughts on the issue (and provides one of the first links to this site…).

    Lincoln, Wilson and FDR–each of them was responsible for far more deaths and far more destruction than Che Guevara or any of a number of Arab nationalist figures ever was, but two important things separate them in the eyes of the general public: they did not personally kill anyone, and the causes for which their armies killed and destroyed are widely considered to be the just and right ones. That is to say, the exact same moralizing, or rather anti-moralizing, that the ends justify the means that Che used…


  8. Freddie says:

    t’s another to suggest that what might look like the absence of moral content from one angle appears more firmly as the presence of anti-moral content from the other.

    Very interesting, and well taken.Report

  9. Max Socol says:

    interesting counter-factual. I haven’t seen Che either, and as I tend to target my movie-going based more on entertainment value than political statement, its tepid reviews mean I’ll probably never catch it.

    But in the hypothetical, I’d say that Che owes an accounting, however brief, of its protagonist’s darker side simply because it’s a long and comprehensive biopic. I’d criticize the omission less from a political perspective (I have no feelings on Guevara politically) than an artistic one — a character study of that length and scope ought to have something to say about Guevara’s violence. The same would apply to a movie of similar length and detail about Sam Adams.Report

  10. Freddie says:

    That, to me, is the most damning critique– sure, you can make apolitical movies, but making apolitical movies about enormously controversial political figures is pretty weird. It’s made much weirder when you’ve got four hours to play with.Report