Henry Baum on “God Bless America”

Originally posted at his own blog, FMR’s co-founder Henry Baum ponders the effect of gun-crazed scenes in Bob Goldthwait’s “God Bless America”.


I’m not sure if Bob Goldthwait totally gets what he’s created in “God Bless America,” and it is summed up in this sentence from his defense of the movie: “a little part of me hopes for copycats.” In the movie, the couple shoot up a movie theatre. This was written before Aurora, and he couldn’t have known that Aurora was going to happen – but Columbine happened, as did Virginia Tech. And these guys also thought they were killing the phonies – they thought they were doing the world a service.

He also says this, so he’s not a total lunatic:

I hope that they watch it and get the message. But the message is not, “Hey you should kill people.” Only idiots would watch it and take that away. And if anyone goes and shoots someone because they saw this movie, even money says any episode of The Golden Girls would have had the same result. Because they are crazy.

But still there seems to be something missing from the movie: and that thing might be reality. There’s still a place for it in satire. The detachment is shown in people’s reaction to the movie. I’ve been poring through the internet looking for people connecting Aurora and GBA – or word from Goldthwait himself, and there’s nothing. Reviews on IMDB and Amazon written after Aurora don’t mention the massacre. And how you can watch a movie with people getting shot in a theatre and not be slightly disturbed is proving Goldthwait’s point – but not the point he was trying to make. The anti-hero continually laments people’s detachment from real feeling – and the reaction from people who like the movie is totally detached from what has happened in real life. It’s a satire and a farce, but what Goldthwait doesn’t seem to get is that shooting a gun at another person is as dimwitted a thing as you can do – thereby negating whatever righteous ideas the character might have.

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