**Note: I came back and edited the title of this post after seeing that my original post used the word ‘humor’ as opposed to ‘comedy.’ I did want it to be a “Part II” and felt that it fit better that way. — The Doctor
For those who may not know, Will Ferrell is set to play the late former President, Ronald Reagan, in an upcoming movie. Listed as a “comedy,” it’s supposed to be a humorous look at the President as he suffers from advanced dementia stemming from Alzheimer’s and is convinced by an intern that he’s an actor playing the part of the President in a movie. (The ‘suffered from dementia’ thing is a standard go-to for those who wish to put down the former President, although as I understand it, the premise has been pretty thoroughly debunked and, conveniently enough, both he and his wife are dead, now)
When I saw a headline regarding the movie, I was immediately reminded of a scene from The Mark of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power. The scene comes at the end, after the bad guy has renounced his seat of power and announces that because “his health is endangered” (meaning he didn’t want to get the business end of El Zorro’s sword!) he is returning to Spain. As he leaves, the priest takes him by the arm and, brandishing a pistol, says the following:
“And now, your Excellency, I personally will accompany you to the wharf at San Pedro. I wish to bless your voyage – and ask God to REWARD you according to your MERITS.”
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am not a hand wringing person who feels that just because I don’t like something, it should be banned or not produced. (Well, there are exceptions to that rule, but they are extreme ones like child pornography and the like) I do believe, though, that there are some things that simply are not funny and are not subjects for comedy. In this instance, I am not alone. The responses to the movie seem to be along the same lines; both friends AND foes of Reagan; admirers and detractors, are coming forward to decry the premise for one simple reason. Alzheimer’s is not funny. People who have watched loved ones degenerate, not recognize them, and then finally waste slowly away and die can tell you that.
But even with that being said, I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy. How about a humorous movie about that AIDS thing? I mean, it’s been some 30+ years since that came on the scene. I’m sure a joking movie about Freddy Mercury’s life and contraction of AIDS would be o.k., right? How about a funny movie about Steve Jobs dying of cancer? Hey here’s one – think of the laughs, as one comment said, if we did a movie about a member of a prominent family who wrecked his car and left a young woman to drown in it. As he comes out of the water with a neck brace, he exclaims, “It needs more cowbell!” Think of the hilarity! Or how about a funny movie about suicide? I mean, we could do one on no less than the funniest man on Earth – Robin Williams. That would HAVE to be humorous, right? Or rape! Now THERE’S a subject I’m sure you could get big laughs with.
No? What’s the difference? I mean – what’s it matter? Make fun of disabled people, mental retardation, children with things like Down Syndrome – it’s just a joke, right?
The Boot of Truth? Yes, there are those who feel that literally ANYTHING is fair game for comedy. I am not one of them. Some things are better left alone. Even comedy needs limits – good taste is still good taste. Some “jokes” say a lot about the person who makes them – and even more about those who laugh at them, whether they laugh sincerely, or for other reasons. I’m not advocating preaching at people, or being one of those finger wagging nannies who constantly reminds people “THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!” because, in truth, that’s not a proper response, either. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply not laugh, or ignore the comment.
What I am suggesting is this: take a look inside your own heart and see what you feel and think about it. Only you can decide what you’ll do in these situations but I hope that many, like me, will choose to object and make their voices heard in the most direct way possible; don’t give a dime to this movie, or projects like it. Someone, somewhere, has to say, “Enough.”
I don’t wish ill on anyone, but Will Farrell and others like him had better hope that what the priest said in The Mark of Zorro doesn’t come true. Should the Almighty choose to take note and reward him according to his merits, he may find himself in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t believe in “karma,” but I know I wouldn’t want to make a movie like that and then suddenly develop Alzheimer’s myself, or find a family member had.
Poetic justice, not karma, can be a real pain, sometimes.
God bless today, my friends.