Richard Jewell, the Movie Review: To understand what’s happening now everyone should watch this great film by Clint Eastwood

The movie, Richard Jewell is certainly one of those that every Trump supporter should see, and those considering becoming one. No wonder it has not done well at the box office, the last time I saw such an antagonistic hatred of a movie was the Atlas Shrugged films for many of the same reasons. Critics hated the movie, it essentially comes down to institutionalism against individual rights when movies take the side of individuals, the college trained movie critics become synonymous with anger at those who challenge their understanding of the world, which was forged in such places as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Princeton, or some of their copy cats teaching those who didn’t do so well on their ACT tests. When people want to know why the media and our government rally to each other’s needs so often, and so quickly, well, they were all taught in the same places to march to whims of the institutions while those who didn’t enjoy the experience become everybody else. But the best products of our modern education systems, our unionized government schools or our best colleges essentially become guys like the featured FBI agent played by Jon Hamm’s Tom Shaw or the newspaper reporter hot to get any story and generally bored with life, Olivia Wilde’s Kathy Scruggs. And it was those two who were playing around with each other sexually who came up with the whole story against Richard Jewell, because they needed somebody to be the face of terrorism, even if the guy was completely innocent.

There is a Kathy Scruggs in every newsroom from all sides of the sexes. There are guy versions, but this one played by Olivia Wilde was fantastic, and very close to many of the people I have known in the media. 89-year-old Clint Eastwood, who directed this picture with the experience of a man who has been around and seen everything is likely the only person who could have directed Olivia Wilde with such realism. She reminded me of a not so disgusting scum bag as Eastwood showed in his Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact, the bar whore who was the central figure behind the rapes of the two leading girls. For these characters wreaking other people’s lives is a kind of game that they love playing. It fills a void in their lives that they work very hard to hide from other people and they are dangerous. But make no mistake about it, there is a Kathy Scruggs in every newsroom to some extent or another. She is not an exceptionally evil person, she is as common as a raindrop in the world of the media, and it takes a director like Clint Eastwood to pull that kind of performance out of an actress who might otherwise not feel comfortable going to such a dark place.

We all know the story, but as I was watching this movie, I was thinking that this is exactly what has been happening to the Trump administration. Kathy Scruggs might as well have been Lisa Page in the middle of the FBI investigation against President Trump. Sexual manipulation is not a new thing for women to play against horny, stupid men, and Peter Strzok was no exception. Not all people are as flamboyant about their behavior as Scruggs was, they hide their actions better. But these kinds of things are happening all the time at every level of our society, and if you get in the way of their actions, another Richard Jewell is born. We only know of Richard Jewell because the profile of the case was a big one. There are Richard Jewell types losing their jobs every day, or being denied promotions for all the same reasons. What Trump captured of the FBI and the media in Richard Jewell was an examination into the kinds of people who are really part of these classes of people, and it wasn’t pretty.

What happened to Richard Jewell, with the attempted entrapments by the FBI was exactly what happened to Roger Stone in the early morning raid of his home at 5 AM with the CNN reporter tipped off and waiting to capture the images of an arrested Trump confidant to splash on the television at the earliest moment. Or what about pinning down Michael Flynn without a lawyer while attempting to get him to give false testimony by pretending to be his friend in the early days of the White House transition? You can’t lie to an FBI agent, it’s against the law—but they sure can lie to you, or control the evidence in such a way to make you look bad if it makes them look good in the process. This movie Richard Jewell showed how those things happen in a very legally valid way. We should all question ourselves in why we have given the government so much power over us. Well, I’d say it’s because there’s a bit of Richard Jewell in all of us, a do gooder who just wants to live a good life and we don’t want to think that people are so dishonest as Tom Shaw or Kathy Scruggs.

The problem with institutionalists like the villains in the movie Richard Jewell is that the villains see value for themselves in supporting the institutions at all cost, even at the price of humanity. And to the rest of us, we can’t even comprehend such evil, yet we face it every day. Occasionally we get fighters who know the system better than the bad guys like the attorney in the film played by Sam Rockwell, Watson Bryant. President Trump comes to mind as a person who has made so much money in life and seen every trick in the book that he can sidestep the institutionalists easily. But those not so experienced around Trump were not so difficult to pluck into the trash bins of trouble. One little misstatement at that level and you are going to jail, while gang members, thugs, and illegal aliens roam our streets unimpeded. If you lie to an FBI agent when they set up the deceit themselves to trap you in it, and you are going to jail to show their power. It’s a bad, nasty game that many fear almost more than death, and it’s sad that we have allowed it to take such a hold of all our lives.

The problem though isn’t that we are stupid, its that we have been short to admit to ourselves that people are as bad as Kathy Scruggs and Tom Shaw. We find it astonishing that they would take it for granted that we’d just naturally believe them and that we’d put up with their evil ways because we all want to believe in the good in people. But some people just don’t have it in them. They adhere so well to the institutions because as people they are broken likely from birth, and there is nothing to hold them together but the rigid rules for which they control. Whether it’s the FBI or the media, the rules are built to serve the institutions and when they need some diversion, they can always pick on the latest Richard Jewell—the good guy who is so well intentioned that he can’t see the evil that is at work right in front of his face. Yet we all see it, and its not just in the Jewell case, but it’s happening right now to our president by that same FBI. Only that story is a much bigger one that many just aren’t ready to admit has been happening. But to see it for all its possibilities, everyone should see Richard Jewell. Its one of those types of movies for our times.

Rich Hoffman

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