It’s highly unorthodox for a critic to do this. But Roger Ebert isn’t just a critic now – he’s a blogger too, and a Twitterer. We all know that half of blogging is arguing with others — or at least responding to what gets posted online. Ebert takes great issue with the tone of O’Hehir’s review, especially how he positions the Eddie Sweat character, but also his misread of the horse himself as a symbol for Tea-Partyism. As an aside: I hate the Tea Party too but this movie ain’t about the Tea Party. There will be a few of them who swarm to the theater, perhaps, thinking those were the good ol’ days – when Nixon was in charge and only white people could use the neighborhood pool, but I didn’t get a whiff of that vibe off of Randall Wallace’s version of Secretariat. Here is Ebert:
Andrew O’Hehir of Salon is a critic I admire, but he has nevertheless written a review of “Secretariat” so bizarre I cannot allow it to pass unnoticed. I don’t find anywhere in “Secretariat” the ideology he discovers there. In its reasoning, his review resembles a fevered conspiracy theory.
In this example , we do not find proof that Obama is a Muslim Communist born in Kenya. No, the news is worse than that. It involves Secretariat, a horse who up until now we innocently thought of as merely very fast. We learn the horse is a carrier not merely of Ron Turcotte’s 130 pounds, but of Nazism, racism, Tea Party ideology and the dark side of Christianity.
Oh, and I forgot the Ku Klux Klan: “The movie itself is ablaze with its own crazy sense of purpose,” O’Hehir writes, “…as if someone just off-screen were burning a cross on the lawn.”
The rest. Worth a read. Ebert’s rebuttal makes me miss his tussles with Gene Siskel.