Sunday, March 28, 2010

Historical truth seems to offend the Hollywood MSM types

This piece is a wonderful dissection of Hollywood's irrational love affair with Fidel and Communism. You certainly cannot trust them to give a historically accurate review of anything. They treat Obama in the same way.
Andy Garcia’s ‘The Lost City’—When Film Critics Turn Historians

In his movie The Lost City, about an upper middle-class Cuban family crumbling during free Havana’s last days, director and star Andy Garcia, along with fellow Cuban-exile screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante, insist on depicting some historical truth about Cuba.
This unforgivable gaffe blasted the bugles for a pile-on by critics. Their fantasies of pre-Castro Cuba, of Che, of Fidel, and of Cubans in general were badly jolted. Their annoyance and scorn spewed forth in review after review.

If only Garcia’s characters had spoken with accents like John Belushi’s as a Saturday Night Live Killer Bee! If only they’d dressed like The Three Amigos! If only they’d hammed it up like Cheech Marin! If only they’d mimicked the mannerisms and gait of Freddie Prinze in Chico and the Man! If only the women had piled a roadside fruit stand on their head like Carmen Miranda in Road to Rio! If only the cast had looked like the little guy who handles my luggage at the hotel in Cancun! Or the guys who do my lawn! Everybody knows that’s what Hispanics look like!
If only masses of Cubans had been shown toiling in salt mines like Spartacus, or picking crops like Tom Joad ,or getting lashed by a vicious landlord like Kunta Kinte, or hustling for a living like Ratso Rizzo!
“In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought,” sniffed Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. “The Lost City misses historical complexity.”
Actually, what misses is Mr. Reiner’s historical knowledge. Garcia and Infante knew full well that “the working poor” had no role in the stage of the Cuban Revolution shown in the movie. Cuba’s anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba’s middle and especially upper classes. To wit: twice during the rebellion, Castro called for a “National Strike” against the Batista dictatorship – and threatened to shoot workers who reported to work. And twice Cuban workers blew a loud and collective raspberry at their “liberators,” reporting to work en masse.
“Garcia’s tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few,” harrumphed Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. “Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason—or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about.”
What was “absolutely absent” was Mr. Atkinson’s knowledge about the Cuba Garcia depicts in his movie. His crack about that “moneyed 1 per cent” and especially his “peasant revolution” epitomize the clichéd idiocies broadcast by Castro’s propaganda ministry and dutifully parroted by America’s idiotic chattering classes even fifty years later.
“The impoverished masses of Cubans who embraced Castro as a liberator appear only in grainy, black-and-white news clips,” snorted Stephen Holden in The New York Times. “Political dialogue in the film is strictly of the junior high school variety.”
It’s Holden’s education on the Cuban Revolution that’s of the “junior high school variety.” Actually it’s Harvard Graduate School variety. Many more imbecilities about Cuba are heard in Ivy League classrooms than in most rural junior high schools.
“It fails to focus on the poverty-stricken workers whose plight lit the fires of revolution,” complained Rex Reed in the New York Observer.
Generally, you’re better off attempting rational discourse with the Flat-Earth Society then with such as the Rex Reed above, but nonetheless I’ll try to dispel the fantasies of pre-Castro Cuba still cherished by America’s most prestigious academics and its most learned film critics. Even better, I’ll use a source generally esteemed by liberal highbrow types, the United Nations.
Here’s a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957: “One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class,” it starts. “Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage than in the U.S.”
In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world. In the 1950’s Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco.
The Anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Unemployed lawyers were prominent (take Fidel Castro himself). Here’s the makeup of the “peasant revolution’s” first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the Anti-Batista fight: 7 lawyers, 2 University professors, 3 University students, 1 doctor, 1 engineer, 1 architect, 1 former city mayor and a Colonel who defected from the Batista Army. A notoriously “bourgeois” bunch as Che himself might have put it.
By 1961 however, workers and campesinos (country folk)-made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. That (genuine) guerrilla war would REALLY make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching war movie. Hear that, Messieurs Soderbergh and del Toro?
If by some miracle such a movie ever got made, you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Who ever heard of poor country-folk fighting against their benefactors Fidel and Che?
The New York Times‘ Stephen Holden also sneers at Garcia’s implication that “life sure was peachy before Fidel Castro came to town and ruined everything.” In fact, Mr. Holden, before Castro “came to town,” Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than the U.S., And at a time when Cubans could get a U.S visa for the mere asking and emigrate with all their property, family, etc., more Americans lived in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S. Furthermore, inner tubes were used in truck tires, oil drums for oil, and Styrofoam for insulation. None were cherished black market items for use as flotation devices to flee the glorious liberation while fighting off hammerheads and tiger sharks.
The learned Mr. Holden is also annoyed by “buffoonish parodies of sour Communist apparatchiks barking orders.” Apparently, Communist apparatchiks should be properly depicted as somewhat misguided social workers, or as slightly overzealous Obama operatives.
It’s no “parody,” Mr. Holden, that the “apparatchiks” Garcia depicts in his movie jailed and murdered a higher percentage of their countrymen in their first three months in power than Hitler and his apparatchiks jailed and murdered in their first three years. It’s the equivalent of complaining the guards and police in Schindler’s List or Julia come across as hackneyed caricatures. Instead let’s portray them with more “complexity,” as misguided idealists who followed a leader who unshackled the German working class from its subservience to snooty barons, who eradicated Germany’s unemployment and who ended Germany’s national humiliation at the hands of Europe’s premier imperialist powers.
How would that go over with you learned critics?
Andy Garcia showed it precisely right. In 1958 Cuba was undergoing a rebellion, not a revolution. Cubans expected political change, not a Stalinist cataclysm. But no surprise that such distinctions are much too “complex” for the typical film critic to grasp.

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