Review: “American Dreamz”
“American Dreamz” is a good satire about our current state of cultural and political affairs. The movie revolves around an “American Idol”-type show, so popular that more people vote weekly for contestants than in the presidential election; Hugh Grant does a great job as the cynical, shallow, Simon Cowell-type host. On the other end of the country, the semi-doofus president (played brilliantly by Dennis Quaid) wakes up the morning after his reelection, decides to start reading the newspaper, and finds out how ill-informed and naïve he is. He goes into a funk, disappearing from the public eye for weeks, reading newspapers and educating himself. People begin whispering and his approval ratings plummet, so his chief of staff (Willem Dafoe, who plays it — and looks — very Cheney-esque) gets him booked as a celebrity judge on “American Dreamz.” And that’s all the plot I’ll share. The entire cast is good, especially Marcia Gay Harden in the Laura Bush role and Mandy Moore as the driven, do-anything-to-win “AD” contestant.
"American Dreamz" is funny and well worth your trip to the theater.
While we’re on the subject of ill-informed presidents, I read this yesterday on Scrivenings’ blog. It’s from a speech President Bush gave on April 10 for the The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.
THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)
Q I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. I'm -- thanks. (Laughter.)
He's a decider, you know. The full transcript of the speech and Q&A is available here.
Go see “American Dreamz.” Laugh hard — then think about how close it hits to the truth, politically and culturally.
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