Last time, we remembered the birth of a Homicidal Robot called The Terminator, a personification of the fears in nineteen eighties.
Whether a metallic robot or an action hero, Arnold “Arnie” Schwarzenegger played characters with tough little sayings. Arnie could make a cliché cool, but it was all about getting straight to the point. While President Ronald “Ronnie” Reagan “did not recall” what happened in the Iran Contra Affair, Arnie would later pulled out of his mess on Mars with Total Recall.
There, Arnie’s job was to give people the air, so they could breath without depending on corporate and governmental tyranny. He needed to discover the secrets that that corporate sponsored government was hiding from the people, and the secrets within his own mind that the conspirators were hiding from him. For those who see Ronnie as an innocent bystander in Iran Contra, this film has many layers.
While Ronnie’s men (like Oliver North and George Bush senior) were implicated in the conspiracy and a cover up, Arnie played an outsider who had to discover the conspiracy. While Ronnie Reagan was the powerful man, Arnie’s characters fought against the powerful men.
President Ronnie Reagan, as the man implicated in the cover up, could satisfy the imagination of his most hawkish fans (and most angry detractors) if he were played by an actor more sinister than himself. Someone who played those cool villains, the kind that “liberal” Hollywood supposedly sees as the mirror of conservatives, and the villains that neo-conservative fans root for in movies.
Well, for obvious reasons, Al Pacino wouldn’t be the best choice. In Taxi Driver, he played a character which supposedly was the inspiration for the man who tried to kill Reagan.
A better bad attitude man-of-power would be Jack Nicholson, especially in films made after the Reagan era.
In Batman Nicholson depicted underdog jealousy that not even President Reagan’s biggest enemy would associate with Ronnie. But in A Few Good Men, Nicholson gave a speech to Tom Cruise that a few neo-conservatives would like to shove down the throats of all those who question authority. These same neo-conservatives sometimes claim President Reagan as their hero, even if they can’t tell you much about the real 1980s.
No, Nicholson’s character didn’t say he didn’t recall. He didn’t tell the complete truth either. “You want the truth?” He asked. “You can’t handle the truth!” He shouted.
On second thought, perhaps Nicholson’s character would be better to portray Oliver North. Reagan fought the Cold War in another way.