Sunday, February 22, 2009
"Milk": Another People's Temple Political Strongman Gets The Whitewash -- And Just Maybe Even An Oscar Or Two?
Tonight the Academy Awards Community has to make a decision: Should they, or shouldn't they--despite the well-honed production--reward a film that both mangles history and portrays a man that deliriously supported a mass-murdering cultist?
How much longer will Harvey Milk's tragic murder continue to allow him this waiver, to the point to sanctifying him now in a multi-Oscar nominated film, that includes not just Best Picture and Best Actor, but a couple of other categories that seem to say it all:
"Best Original Screenplay" and "Best Editing."
Right. Very "original screenplay." The very "best editing."
But not for the same reasons that our august Academy members would say, of course. The "original screenplay" is an amazing thing, because it can give carte blanche to all manner of fictional add-ons, while the "best editing" is that enchanting process that, in equally unscrupulous hands, may produce small & large milestones in fantasy-turned-reality.
No one of course knows this better than the man running "Firelight Media," our acclaimed left-wing Producer/Director Stanley Nelson. With joyous and unlimited "expert guidance" from those rousing official National People's Temple Cheerleaders, Becky Moore & "Mac" McGhee, the three of them cooked up the most insidious cult apologist film in history, "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple."
The good news is, folks: The Academy didn't get suckered in and refused Nelson and his revolting cult whitewash even a nomination. He does, however, manage to keep on getting film gigs in "fantastic fiction" documentaries, the latest of which is part of PBS's upcoming American Indian series. Nelson's fantasy segment is on the gun-slinging militant American Indian Movement (AIM) that blasted its way through a 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee Battlefield.
I'm suuuuuure that ol' Stan will, like he did with the People's Temple, provide ALL the relevant facts so that viewers have an sterling accurate portrait of history, with not a trace of leftest bias. Now if anyone out there has the slightest question about how Nelson manages his magic, I'd say just give him a call at the office:
STANLEY NELSON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FIRELIGHT MEDIA
You can also send Stan a fax: 212-234-6688 in case you want more
details about what he terms his "evocative technique" in film making.
I'm certain that Lord Nelson was more than pleased over any and all aspects of "Milk," even if he can't take credit. The important thing is that the Great Spirit of Obfuscation was in full cinematic force, right?
"Milk," of course, is a very interesting part of history, dealing with the very first openly gay man to be elected to office in California. It is a poignant story, and worth telling, no question. The big problem, however, comes with this "original screenplay" and "editing." And for that, all the rest of the awards should go out the door, just to teach these fabricators a lesson about telling THE WHOLE TRUTH.
The "whole truth"? What whole truth? What, pray tell, is MISSING from our Oscar-nominated film, that has such a spectacular performance, as is almost always the case, by lead actor Sean Penn.
Well, how about this little tidbit for starters.
It's a letter written to President Jimmy Carter, in February, 1978, by none other than St. Harvey himself. He wrote it just nine months away from the slaughter, but LONG after all the long-overdue 1977 exposes had finally told him, his fellow Temple boosters such as George Moscone, Willie Brown, and the rest of their degenerate San Francisco political cronies about Jim Jones's reign of terror, his extortion, fraud, torture of children, and all the rest.
And did Milk, or any of them--except for one courageous man named Leo Ryan--do ONE DAMN THING TO HELP THOSE POOR PEOPLE TRAPPED IN JONESTOWN?
More importantly: how much does the film "Milk," nominated for multiple Academy Awards tonight, have of this in the script?
25 minutes? No.
15? Guess again, people.
5 minutes?? You're gettin' warm.....think "Nelsonesque Film School" now.
A "biopic" about a man that, while achieving greatness in fighting for his minority's rights, doesn't want you to know that before his own tragic murder, he aggressively aided in condemning over 900 Americans to death?
Incredible. Utterly incredible.
While Jones was busy in his Guyana Gulag dunking little children at the bottom of dark wells, confining others for weeks in a box, and doping up dissidents with heavy narcotics, Milk insisted on describing him as a "loving protective parent" and "a man of the highest character."
Gay activist and historian Michael Bellefountaine, who passed away in 2007 had been working on the final stages of his book "A Lavender Look At The People's Temple." A couple of years earlier, in the midst of all his research, the real picture of a far less saintly Harvey Milk appeared to emerge, as Bellefountaine explained in an article he wrote on the 25th Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre.
"Harvey Milk’s name appears throughout San Francisco," wrote Bellefountaine, "A municipal railway station and plaza, a park and recreation building and one of the city’s most influential political clubs are all named in his memory. A local elementary school is known as the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, and the Eureka Valley Library is now called the Harvey Milk Branch.
"The theme for this year’s gay pride parade was 'give them hope,' Milk’s inspirational rallying cry from gays and lesbians in San Francisco to their brothers and sisters living in rural America. The International Gay and Lesbian Historical Society is producing an extensive exhibit of Milk memorabilia which includes the blood-stained suit he was wearing when he and Mayor George Moscone were gunned down in San Francisco City Hall on November 27, 1978. Twenty-five years after his murder, Harvey Milk has been catapulted to the level of gay martyr. Without question, he has left his mark on San Francisco.
"Despite all the exhibits and memorials of Harvey Milk throughout San Francisco, though, none of them acknowledges Milk’s relationship with Jim Jones and Peoples Temple....
"When Milk and Moscone were killed, San Franciscans were still reeling from the murder of Representative Leo Ryan and the news that hundreds of Jonestown residents, previously thought to have saved themselves by running into the jungle, were apparently willing participants in a suicide ritual. In the aftermath of their murders all mention of connections between Milk, Moscone and Jones were intentionally obscured.
"Out of respect for the politicians, their followers took all necessary steps to sever Milk and Moscone from the pariah Jones. It was not the only mass exodus of political support in the wake of the Jonestown tragedy. Politicians who once enjoyed volunteers, donations and votes from Peoples Temple, could not distance themselves from Jim Jones fast enough.
"Many of these people are still in politics today.
"....One story has it that Milk asked Peoples Temple to remove his name from the church’s list of supporters when reports of violence and theft first came to light, and that he was outraged when the Temple failed to comply with his demand. Eventually, history settled on an official story: Jim Jones was a master manipulator who used unwitting local politicians to gain power for himself.
"The politicians, including Milk and Moscone, used Jones for volunteers and votes, while remaining personally distant and blissfully unaware of rumors of Temple violence, abuse, theft, and even murder. The timing of Dan White’s murderous rampage was deemed coincidental.
"However, upon closer inspection, it is clear that Harvey Milk was a strong advocate for Peoples Temple and Jim Jones during his political career, including the tumultuous year leading up to the Jonestown tragedy.
"Milk spoke at the Temple often, wrote personal letters to Jim Jones contacted other elected officials on the Temple’s behalf, and used space in his weekly column to support the works of the Temple, even after the negative New West article went to press. Milk appeared in the pages of the Peoples Forum, the Temple newspaper, and received over fifty letters of sympathy from the residents of Jonestown when his lover, Jack Lira, killed himself in September 1978.
"It is readily apparent from the letters and historical memorabilia that Milk and the Temple enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship until their concurrent deaths. Why then is the relationship such a secret, even taboo to discuss?
"The only biography of Milk to date, 'The Mayor of Castro Street,' by Randy Shilts, downplays the Milk/Temple relationship, even going so far as to paint Milk as one of the countless people who cruelly ridiculed and ostracized the surviving Temple members and their supporters. Like most historians, Shilts opted for an image of an expedient politician, instead of truthfully portraying how Milk worked with Peoples Temple until the end of his life."
Congratulations, Randy Shilts, you have have definitely earned your honorary membership in the People's Temple History Hall Of Shame.
Of course, your portrait will most certainly be in one of the lower tiers, Randy. There are too many others--sleazy politicos, scribes, academics, and wolves in clerical garb--whose depraved notion of ethics will forever ensure them top billing.
As for tonight's Academy Awards spectacle, should for some godawful reason the heavily whitewashed "Milk" take home even one golden statue, let's hope that someone includes in their insufferable acceptance speech a recognition of just how St. Harvey traveled on Beatification Highway.