Can Donald Trump gain enough black voters to make a difference in 2020?
Clint Eastwood’s excellent new film, Richard Jewell (rated R for heavy language and brief, realistic violence), has a moment early on where a perfectly pressed FBI agent looks around in disgust at a mass of doughy people doing the Macarena and grouses, “I’m made for better things than this.” The beautiful, young reporter trying to scrape up a story at the same Atlanta park during the 1996 Olympics shoots back, “You think I’m not?”
It’s a scene that, ironically, is later echoed by Richard himself. Leaving to go work security at that event, the wannabe cop tells his mother the world owes them more from life. “Maybe it does,” she replies breezily, “but this is what we’ve got. So go to work.”
Behind its searing indictments of unethical media and governmental abuse of power, this is the theme running through the true story of how the hero of the Olympic Park bombing came to be falsely cast as its villain.
Wanting to believe we could be, should be, doing something better is a common failing of mankind. But how quickly we slide into corruption when we think our looks, intellect, or credentials entitle us to the submission of the slow-witted, overweight Richard Jewells of the world.
Desperate to prove they’re deserving of these better things, the FBI agent (John Hamm) and the journalist (Olivia Wilde) cut corners. Richard (Paul Walter Hauser), on the other hand, focuses on being faithful in his work.
It’s telling to look at some of the angry reactions to Eastwood’s largely accurate portrayal of the injustice perpetrated against the Baptist, NRA-revering Southerner. The Daily Beast calls Richard Jewell a “MAGA screed calibrated to court favor with the red hat-wearing faithful.” The Chicago Tribune writes of it, “Trump’s enemies, the press and the government, are this movie’s enemies.” Yet the film never mentions anything past the year 1996.
How dare you question us, the smart people, the ones destined for great things, the government agents and reporters said in Atlanta in 1996.
They’re still saying it today.