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For the price of a movie ticket, you can stand up for truth, justice, and the American way! After Horowitz, we all knew how extensive the corruption and abuse of power was in the FBI, DOJ, and our national media. Two days later, Clint Eastwood released a movie exactly on topic, dramatically documenting earlier collusion between the same malevolent cast of characters. The response from Trump voters and supporters was telling.
The Democrats’ media wing told us that we should not support this movie. Now, with the Richard Jewell opening weekend box office counted, we know we let them win, again, just like we let them win 2018. Bank on the anti-Deplorable, anti-Trump selective hit job movie Bombshell to get plenty of support, reinforcing the left’s narrative. Trump voters can’t be bothered, and conservative media figures apparently are missing the significance, in the midst of the daily deluge of stories. So, Trump 2020 will not be Boris Johnson 2019. Change my mind this week: money talks, bull-Schiff walks.
Richard Jewell matters right now because it gives the lie to everyone who professes unwavering belief in the integrity of the FBI, minus a few sacrificial snakes in the J. Edgar Hoover Building. This especially matters with the Senate Republican leadership. This movie calls us back to the old wisdom that power corrupts all sorts of men and women in all places and times. We are reminded that ambition can lead us into moral peril, as we rationalize action and inaction, knowing better. Eastwood reminds us of all this without cartoon characters or sentimental plot lines, and without coming to a nihilistic or fatalistic conclusion. We need this message front and center before Lindsey Graham gets his hands on the Senate trial proceedings.
Richard Jewell is not Christian-film schlock, not even a Hallmark movie. This is Oscar nomination-worthy in its depth and complex portrayal of almost every character. Clint Eastwood proves that age has not dulled his storytelling and film-making powers. Kathy Bates may rip your heart out and have you wanting to climb through the screen after the FBI villains. Paul Walter Hauser gives us a self-destructively flawed protagonist, gifted in observation of things, except as they contradict his passionate belief in law enforcement as an unalloyed force for good. When the FBI all but throws the one-page “exoneration” letter at him sitting in a working-class diner with his lawyer, Watson Bryant, Richard Jewell takes two bites of his donut and breaks down. Olivia Wilde gives us the cautionary tale of raw ambition at the beginning, then Eastwood puts her in the back of the news conference, weeping as she sees the pain she helped inflict on Richard Jewell’s mother.
The only ones not shown seeking some redemption or showing any remorse are the FBI agents, with the agent in charge in full career-preservation mode from before the bombing through when he drops the one-paragraph semi-retraction on Jewell and his lawyer, turning his back as he utters the lie that he still believes Richard Jewell did it. This accords with a scene early in the movie when we see Watson Bryant and Richard interact years before the bombing. The lawyer warns Richard, who is full of pride at being offered a job leading to police employment, that people can become abusive when they get a little power. Clint Eastwood told that morality tale many years ago with sledgehammer subtlety in Absolute Power.
The R-rating is deceptive. Richard Jewell is far less graphic than the Marvel series, having only the bombing scene with limited blood and no gore. There was no sex scene, not even a hint of nudity, and far less cussing than most Hollywood fare. You’d almost think this was a political rating. I think the movie is worth viewing by high-school children, who would profit from its lessons.
The coalition that showed up in 2016 is enjoying the benefits produced by President Trump, unaided and subverted by Conservatism, Inc., which is invested in real results for large defense contractors and the big boys of the Chamber of Commerce but never really for actual results for social conservatives, let alone the forgotten Americans who the bipartisan establishment told to just learn to code. The 2016 Electoral College-winning coalition watched their standard-bearer, and so their own political franchise, under relentless assault since the summer of 2016. These voters have taken the material benefits and done little to actually fight back, where true believers and opportunists on the left have been relentless.
How relentless? Just look at how they have hammered a movie that sings the old liberal, indeed the old leftist, tune: a corrupt federal government, through the agency of the FBI, violates an innocent, indeed a righteous man’s rights in the false name of national security and law and order. We used to all be able to get behind that. Now, the left is all on board with abusing the heck out of the Constitution, so long as it serves their higher purposes.
Watching Richard Jewell at the local multiplex, I counted only four other ticket holders at the early evening show this Sunday. I checked other new releases’ seating charts on the movie house’s app and found more, too many more, tickets sold for the same time of evening. We are doing it to ourselves; we are creating the facts with which the left can smash us in the face again and again.
The standard excuse offered is “too busy” or “don’t go to movies because.” Applesauce. Conservatives and the Trump coalition are all out filling sports bars, buying coffee, and attending events we like. “I’ll wait for it to come out on Amazon/Netflix/DVD.” That does nothing to help President Trump win. You could do far more good buying a couple tickets this week, whether you use them or not, than spending the same amount on a t-shirt in the Donald J. Trump merchandise online store, or buying the latest hot conservative book. A big box-office, especially if we react to the weak commercial opening weekend with grassroots promotion driving up attendance, is the signal studios cannot ignore, or at least the signal that skeptical investors being encouraged to get in the game will need. Andrew Klavan has been pounding away on this point for years.
The first weekend is behind us, nothing left but the gloating from the left. So, what are you going to do about it? If you are retired or have some free time, what about grabbing some friends, maybe your coffee klatch, and rolling out for a matinee this week. Grab a late lunch or drinks afterwards to talk it over and share with others. College students, done with finals about now, can grab conservative, libertarian, and true liberal friends for a movie and beers. Maybe you could pin down your favorite radio host on their failure to rally the troops, when they are busy pushing ad campaigns and showing their influence with their guest list. Or be more subtle and encouraging, flattering them with the chance to show their real influence for good with a ticket sale surge this week and a much larger second weekend.
The White House team should already be reaching out to get a screening before Christmas, especially inviting Bobi Jewell, Richard Jewell’s mother, to the White House to praise her and her son and to pour righteous wrath on the FBI as a whole for its whitewash of every abuse it ever committed, from its wiretapping of MLK, through its lethal anti-religious bigotry at Waco, to leaving innocent men rotting in jail to cover for a mob informant, to the FBI and DOJ election meddling with the false prosecution of Alaskan Republican Senator Ted Stevens, to using Richard Jewell as cover for their abject failure to first prevent and then successfully investigate the bombing of the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Our nation owes this to Bobi Jewell and her departed son’s memory, and President Trump is the one president in the modern era to have the moral clarity and courage to backhand the entire FBI and DOJ bureaucracy. Really, he should do so with Attorney General Barr making the apology to Bobi and Richard Jewell.Published in