Hollywood owes Richard Nixon a posthumous Oscar. If the 37th president of the United States had not launched a paramilitary crackdown on the use of naturally-occurring substances in the early ‘70s, we would have no movies like the following:
American Gangster, Asian Connection, Bobby Z, Clockers, Cocaine Cowboys, Empire, L.A. Wars, Marked for Death, Scarface, Rush, etc. etc. – just add the “bullet-riddled” movie of your choice, especially those that focus on South American “scumbags” and their American nemeses, namely, those no-nonsense cops who openly laugh at the whole idea of due process and the other high-falutin legal protections that have been historically afforded to American citizens via the U.S. Constitution.
One typical Nixon-inspired classic is 2007’s Walking Tall: Lone Justice, starring Kevin Sorbo. It follows the usual Drug War plot in which a pious American renegade launches a Pyrrhic war against a South American drug-lord/scumbag.
Of course, hero Nick Prescott never stops to think that America itself has created these drug lords by outlawing the medicinal plants of Mother Nature in the first place and then blackmailing governments around the world to do the same lest they lose America’s financial support. Instead, we get the usual morality tale based on a false narrative: righteous no-nonsense American trashes the Bill of Rights in order to give a South American scumbag what’s coming to him.
The plots of all such DEA-glorifying flicks take Nixon’s crackdown as a morally justified “given” and then proceed to vividly demonstrate all the violence that predictably results from such a crackdown, i.e., the violence to be expected when we take away a citizen’s right to freely access the medicinal benefits of Mother Nature.
A sane viewer of the above-mentioned agitprop can only wish that Director Tripp Reed had had an epiphany during the movie’s filming and yelled: “Cut! Guys, what are we thinking? The real villain of this piece is Richard friggin’ Nixon, not some opportunistic entrepreneur who merely took advantage of the lucrative black-market economy that that idjit of a president single-handedly created out of whole cloth!”
But say what you will, Richard Nixon created something else as well: i.e., a whole new genre of movies about foreign scumbags pursued by moral Americans. We might call it “the scumbag genre,” for want of a better term.
But before Richard Nixon’s political heirs step up to the podium to accept a posthumous Oscar on behalf of their movie-spawning forebear, let’s be sure to accompany Nixon’s Oscar with a multi-billion-dollar damage claim for all the lives that his War on Drugs has taken over the last half century.
No one has yet calculated the full price tag for this carnage, but it has to be huge, since the Drug Policy Alliance reports 200,000 killed in Mexico’s U.S.-inspired drug war alone, and that figure just covers the period from 2006 to the present. Even as we speak, the fascist Duterte of the Philippines is working to beat that record, racking up 12,000 drug-war deaths in his country in the last three years alone (i.e., since 2016).
Let’s not forget the millions of lives ruined yearly by arrests for mere possession of natural substances, a sort of pre-crime punishment used by the drug warrior to enforce Christian Science orthodoxy in America.
So hats off to Richard Nixon, the unsung hero of American cinema, whose crackdown on the rights of the individual resulted in a whole new exciting movie genre about Drug War “scumbags.”
After the Academy gives this long-overdue recognition to Tricky Dick, they should consider awarding a second honorary Oscar to New York Congressman Francis Burton Harrison. Francis was the visionary politician who first decided that Americans could not be trusted to use naturally-occurring medicines as they saw fit. It’s thanks to his tireless work in outlawing opium in 1914 that Americans gave up their right to Mother Nature’s pharmacopeia in the first place, thus empowering anti-scientific conservatives like Richard Nixon to crack down further just a half century later, thereby creating a whole new genre of scumbag-busting movies that continue to triumph at the box office to this very day!