The first time Christopher Hitchens made his objections known I didn’t bother posting it or discussing it. The reason for this is primarily that it would have an impact on whether the King’s Speech will win the Oscar or not – it very likely will, and it will have nothing to do with the historical facts, but to do with it being a moving film. ¬†The same goes for the Social Network – nothing Sean Parker or Mark Zuckerberg could ever do or say would change the fact that it is a great film.
However, anyone who watched Christopher Hitchens wipe up the floor with Tony Blair on their recent debate on religion knows that you don’t mess with Hitch and expect to come away the winner. ¬†Apparently, Harvey Weinstein has been going around saying that Hitchens was in cahoots with The Social Network team (as if). Right, so in addition to debating Tony Blair about the importance, or danger of religion, fighting for every minute of life due to a very serious affliction of cancer, Hitchens also has time to worry about the Oscar race. ¬†Um. ¬†Yeah.
So either way, Hitchens takes the opportunity to splay David Seidler. ¬†I am only posting it now because it can have no bearing whatsoever on the race either way – it won’t help nor hurt The King’s Speech, just as Hitchens’ original article could never, would never shift perception enough. ¬†Anyone who follows the Oscar race knows that, by god, the heart wants what it wants.
Brush even a fingertip against the balloon of Hollywood ambition and prize-mania, and it can burst with gratifying speed, emitting huge gusts of narcissism and megalomania. Ever since I, and one or two¬†others, published some¬†criticisms of The King’s Speech, there has been a lovely value-for-money response of outraged ego. Tinseltown reporters have e-mailed and telephoned me to report that Harvey Weinstein goes around saying that all who doubt the perfection of his latest offering are in sinister league with the makers of¬†The Social Network. I had some difficulty in believing that this was really true, but it did cheer me up. Yet now the film’s screenwriter, David Seidler, has given a¬†foam-flecked interview to the Puffington Host, or whatever the hell it’s called, in which he speaks darkly of a “smear campaign” against his baby, a campaign of which I constitute a “prong.” So perhaps the termites of paranoia¬†have been dining long and well on the Weinstein Co. cortex. A hitherto almost unpunctuated stream of praise and tribute is not enough‚Äîthe chorus of adulation must be unanimous. This is what comes of immersing oneself in the cult of hereditary monarchy and of seeking to bask in its tawdry glare.
I say again, does the Weinstein Co. think it’s actually a good idea to take on Christopher Hitchens?
Seidler first unmasks his batteries by saying that I “accuse” him “of not knowing that Churchill supported David (Edward VIII) not Bertie.” I did nothing of the sort. I accused him of deliberately omitting the fact (suppressio veri, or withholding the truth) even as he strongly implied that Churchill’s loyalty was to the babbling Bertie, which constitutes¬†suggestio falsi, or the insinuation of untruth. He now tells us that a scene in which Churchill supported the pro-Nazi princeling “David” was cut from the final version, allegedly because it “sagged.” Well, why not craft a scene‚Äîillustrating the far more fascinating truth of the matter‚Äîthat doesnot sag?
Perhaps admitting more than he should, Seidler adds that the decision of the royal physicians to euthanize the dying King George V (by means of an injection of morphine and cocaine, designed to ensure that the timing of the announcement would favor the extreme-right¬†Timesof London) was also removed from the film. Did that not-uninteresting detail also sag in the telling? Or would its inclusion, along with the accurate Churchill scene, have made it harder to sustain the uncritical and anti-historical reverence for the palace and for Churchill that the whole movie seems designed to perpetuate?
With one day left to vote, this will have zero impact – and the truth is, it should have zero impact; The King’s Speech, like The Social Network, like The Fighter, like 127 Hours is truthiness, not really truth. ¬†I don’t suppose anyone knows for sure whether King George was abused by a nanny; but it makes the audience sympathize with him and understand him – just as Zuckerberg had a girlfriend in real life but it’s been omitted from the film. ¬†Sure, I can buy that there is slightly more at stake messing with actual WWII history, but I don’t think anyone is taking that film literally. ¬†They are standing and cheering for King George VI because Colin Firth plays it so well you forget he’s even acting.
The King’s Speech will win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Screenplay at the very least. ¬†But it will probably also win costumes, score, possibly art direction, possibly supporting actor or actress. They really could ¬†have done it without going after Hitchens, whose claims were valid as made but were exaggerated for effect by others. I don’t know anything about anything but one thing I do know: Christopher Hitchens’ opinion is not up for sale.