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March 29, 2004

The Fog of War

How do you make a zombie? You start with a human being. Then you peel away everything that isn't a zombie.

If it's not too late to discuss the Academy Awards, I must say I'm happy that The Fog of War won the Oscar for best documentary. I'm a longtime fan of John Carpenter's work, and it's great that he's finally getting the recognition he deserves. Albeit twenty-four years too late.

However, despite my familiarity with Carpenter's filmography, I was surprised to learn that The Fog of War is a documentary. That the paralytic malaise which crept over late-seventies America took physical form as a dense wall of fog. And that the fog hid such terrible secrets about our nation's recent past.

I'll never forget the sight of Adrienne Barbeau trapped on the roof of the American embassy, with no hope of escape from her pursuers. And how her eyes bulged as she realized who her pursuers were, and what terrible justice they were about to exact.

Yes -- the members of Lyndon Johnson's cabinet had shambled forth from the grave. And they hungered. They hungered for revenge against the peacemongering, pill-popping, thrill-copping, me-first Americans who had stabbed them in the back and robbed their own country of victory in Vietnam.

I'll never forget how Adrienne grabbed the phone to call for help, only to drop it in horror as she realized that the rotting corpse of J. Edgar Hoover had given her a wiretap -- from Hell!

Great moments indeed. However, if this was all there is to The Fog of War, it would not have deserved the Oscar. But John Carpenter, despite the dark subject matter of his films, has never descended to cheap nihilism. Ultimately, his movie shows us that the long and terrible night of the seventies came to a close, and a shining sun called Reagan rose to purify the land. To roll back the soupy fog of affirmative-action legislation that was choking the life out of our principles. Reagan dispelled that dark nonsense, and taught us that America had never been racist and never would be. That, far from being victims, blacks had taken the lead in defending their country in Vietnam -- while white liberals at home were busy stabbing them in the back.

For showing us the truth, John Carpenter deserves the Academy's Oscar, and the gratitude of all America. After all -- Jesus may have been a carpenter, but John is the Carpenter.