Friday, June 18, 2004

Hollywood Che Chic

Hollywood is making another movie about our old Marxist killer-pal, Che, and this one looks to be a Hollywood fawnfest of the same stripe as the hagiography of that excreble woman and mediocre artist, Frida Kahlo, where revolutionary politics and personal immaturity and self-obsession meld into the perfect charismatic elxir, at least for people who listen to the Rage Against the Machine Homework.

While the romance associated with revolution has always been prevalent among the immature and emotional, there weren;t exactly many figures to personify that romanticism. It took a much different mindset and historical outlook to get behind Stalin or Lenin the way the dupes of the 30's did. For the naive Western comrade of the 60's up to the present day, those fellows were simply much too stodgy and too mired in the ugly and tedious quotidian of actually running a (non)functioning Marxist state.

Che, on the other hand (or at least the popular conception that many still hold of him), can be sufficiently separated from any fetters tying the young and idealistic to the oppressive real-world consequesences of their beliefs. His status as permanent guerrilla allows one to forever exist in the romantic world of continuing revolution, rather than forcus on the ruin that follows in the wake of those satisfying orgies of smashing the powers-that-be. That, and clever marketing (the irony is particularly satisfying), is what has placed his two-toned image on every other college dorm room in the country - he is the epitome of communist romanticism and denial of reality.

Expect heavy doses of both from the new movie, which seems to have attracted a lot of big name talent like Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro. With a tagline like "[H]e fought for the people," expect to not see much focus on the fact that Che was basically an incompetent and ignorant revolutionary, as much interested in fulfilling romantic fantasies as the common American know-nothing that idolizes him. Also, I wouldn't be waiting with bated breath to see much depiction of the sizable contempt in which he held the people he was trying to mobilize to revolution. The people he dealt with he considered largely a canvas on which to paint his own personal valiant narrative of The People. They were the faceless masses, surrounding him as the central messianic figure of deliverance. I guess, when one considers how incapable they seemed to help him bring about this personal transcendence and fame, that it's understandable he was so annoyed with them all the time and wrote repeatedly in his diaries the scorn he felt for the stupid peasants he was surrounded by.

What you can expect is the standard worshipful fare. The filmakers will likely claim they're creating a fair, unflinching portrait. They'll include the man's flaws as well, such as his fierce temper and propensity for violence, which will no doubt be depicted in such a way as to make him seem even more attractive or sympathetic, in the same way that Frida Kahlo's abusive relationship with her husband only made her more appealing to the audience.

Expect a slew of Oscars.