Diagnosing Dubya: The early word on Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic

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A storm is coming. Controversy is brewing. Oliver Stone, director of the Vietnam War epic “Platoon” as well as political thrillers “JFK” and “Nixon,” is tackling his most controversial subject yet: George W. Bush, one of the most panned presidents in American history. The biopic, starring Josh Brolin as Dubya, is getting negative feedback based on early trailers. I’m here to break that streak of pessimism: The previews for “W.” are brilliant, and this film looks very promising. I’ve heard valid criticisms of this film, but my excitement for it outweighs my doubt.

The biggest criticism I’ve heard from friends is that this film takes the subject of Bush too lightly, and therefore “W.” looks like nothing more than an extended SNL sketch parodying the president’s life. Seems fair enough. The previews do show many moments that seemingly poke fun at Bush. They show Bush as a young man driving drunk, acting obnoxious and then as president appearing constantly confused and overwhelmed. Emphasizing these moments of stupidity may seem unfair, but are they not accurate? Stone set forth to make a realistic, honest and revealing portrait of Bush. In order to do that, he has to show those moments of stupidity. Face it—Bush is not an incredibly smart or well-adjusted man, and it would be equally unfair of Stone to portray him as such. As a young man, Bush was a raging alcoholic. At age 30, he was arrested for driving under the influence. He was not exactly a great student either. He scored the lowest possible acceptable grade on the pilot’s written aptitude test for the Texas Air National Guard. Then, much later, he became President of the United States and, among other things, led us into a war that is costing $12 billion per month, according to Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and author Linda J. Blimes. Bush is also receiving the lowest approval ratings in presidential history. So, I would not call his life a success. Therefore, I do not see the problem with Stone portraying him as a complete failure. Plus, although this film looks satirical, it is incorrect to predict that it will be reminiscent of MadTV or SNL in its biting wit. Stone is a serious filmmaker, and he is not going to make a completely silly, inarticulate film.

I’ve heard many people call this film “unnecessary” and “pointless.” These statements are wrong. This film could deliver helpful insights about Bush. The preview alone raises an important and interesting question: What drove Bush from a life as hard-partying country boy to the life of the most powerful man in the country? What made this man a failure his entire life? I am not saying Bush is a bad man, and neither is Stone. We are saying that Bush is an average Joe that simply had no business being president.

My suggestion to naysayers is to simply see the film for themselves before they slam it to the ground. Although I seem completely supportive of it now, I will see this film with an open mind and admit if it is flawed. That is the only way anyone should approach a film.

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