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Klavan On The Culture

O’Sullivan’s Law at the Movies: J. Edgar and Cultural Decay

December 5th, 2011 - 12:00 am

Hoover Caught in a Moment of Blatant Bestiality

O’Sullivan’s Law says, in effect, that any organization that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. So it is with cultures too, I believe. And how could it be otherwise? All leftism is, really, is a form of decay, and all things made by man decay as time goes by. But if you ever wanted a glimpse of the mechanism by which that decay operates in our particular culture, the critical reception of Clint Eastwood’s latest film J. Edgar provides an invaluable insight.

A Hollywood icon, Eastwood has earned the right to make a bad film now and then and with J. Edgar he has exercised that right. The bio-pic of founder and long time head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover is a mess. The narrative’s garbled timeline is purposeless and confusing; the characters’ motivations are unrealistic and programmatic; even the make-up is terrible.

But most noticeably, the script by gay activist Dustin Lance Black — author of the hagiography Milk — opts to serve the gay cause rather than the truth of its subject and thus produces perhaps the one version of Hoover’s life least likely to have happened. Here is one already notorious example. After his death, Hoover, a lifelong bachelor, was accused by a very unreliable source of attending gay orgies in drag. This is almost surely a slander, but there’s one thing we can say with certainty: either it’s true or it isn’t. Rather than taking a stand one way or the other, Black’s script has Hoover dressing in his dead mother’s gown only once as a token of grief — as if to say, “Well, we’ll only repeat the slanderous lie a little bit, and give it a compassionate setting, so as to be fair.” Add to that a wholly fantasized punch-me-kiss-me scene between Hoover and long time friend Clyde Tolson that could have come out of some 60′s vision of screaming queenery like The Boys in the Band or The Detective, and the movie’s version of the man’s life — not to mention human life in general — becomes absurd.

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