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September 21, 2012

The Weirdest Pro-Fascist Progressive Fantasia You'll Ever See?

@verumserum was just discussing this film. It just played on TCM -- but you can actually watch the whole thing below.

It's... creepy.

Gabriel was the brainchild of media titan William Randolph Hearst, whose "yellow journalism" helped start the Spanish American War. By 1933, Jonathan Alter explains in "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope," "Hearst believed that the country needed a dictator but he wasn't sure FDR knew how to fill the role." So with this film, Hearst "set out to show Roosevelt the way."

Gabriel's fictional president, Judson C. Hammond, begins as an unflattering amalgam of Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover, a party hack more interested in bedding his comely assistant than in dealing with his country's economic woes.

But after Hammond is gravely injured in a car crash, the archangel Gabriel visits him in the hospital and imbues the comatose chief executive with the holy spirit of presidential activism. Hammond awakens as a man transformed. "I think, gentlemen, that you forget I am still the president of these United States," he tells Congress, "and it is within the rights of the president to declare the country under martial law!"

Hammond dissolves Congress, forcibly implements a ban on foreclosures, and creates an "Army of Construction" giving a job to every unemployed American.

He authorizes a special army unit to fight gangsters, several of whom are convicted via military tribunal, then shot by a firing squad with the Statue of Liberty visible in the background. "We have in the White House a man who's enabled us to cut the red tape of legal procedures," the presiding general notes approvingly.

...

Then, with his work on Earth done, the president ascends into Heaven.

FDR was delighted and wrote to Hearst that "I think it is an intensely interesting picture and should do much to help."

@verumserum says it's as weird and creepy and prog-porn as it sounds -- he says he kept waiting it for it to get less weird (I guess-- to explain late in the film that fascism is not, in fact, a panacea) but it never does.

The column I linked above notes the "unholy" fusion of secular religion and progressive politics.

Good thing we're more enlightened than that, now.

I haven't watched it yet; I don't know if I can devote 1:25 to this piece of fascist shit, even as a curiosity.

This curiosity, though, does demonstrate how close we are to fascism at any time. It's such a temptation for those without an appreciation of The American Way.

But, again: Thankfully we're more enlightened than that now.


Bigger version here.

Some clips via @verumserum:

Post-kangaroo-court execution of the bad guys.

The angel Gabriel turns the corrupt, inept president into a a pro-fascist progressive.

Now progressive fascist president declares Jeffersonian Democracy and also martial law.

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:22 PM

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