- If my big sister was scoring this movie, I know she would give it 5 stars. So since she is my big sister, therefore, she can still beat me up, I am going to give Nixon 5 stars too. :)
[Nixon ringing bell incessantly before the male servant walks into the dining room] “Manolo, uh, Mrs. Nixon is finished.” -My big sister’s favorite scene from the 3 hour-plus long movie that is Oliver Stone’s Nixon. And I started the review off with this quote because this review is dedicated to her. 🙂
In the summer of 1973, my big sister, Kelli, had just turned 4 years old, but unlike most 4-year-olds, who were watching Sesame Street or The Electric Company, my big sister was watching the Watergate hearings, which was running non-stop on the TV. We are an odd family (we are Southern after all) full of smart people and these smart people do odd things, like watching the Watergate hearings at 4 years old and loving every minute of it. 🙂 My big sister loved these Watergate hearings so much that when the next summer came around a year later, 5 year old Kelli was looking for those Watergate hearings again, and boy, was she pissed when she found out that those Watergate hearings were a onetime deal!
So, why was my 4 year old sister so interested in watching the Watergate hearings?
Was it to see justice served?
Was it because looking at the TV was way better than looking at the insanity running around our house that was our mother?
My big sister was watching the Watergate hearings because she was falling in love with Nixon.
Yes, my big sister at just 4 years old fell in love with the 37th President of the United States of America, who ended up resigning from office thanks to the Watergate hearings, Richard Milhous Nixon. And when I say “fall in love” I don’t mean that my big sis had the romantic hots for Richard Nixon and wanted to grow up to marry him one day. I mean “fall in love” as in she found a kindred spirit that spoke to her and she fell in love with this kindred spirit and saw in Nixon what no one else did at that time and many still don’t see today, a man who just needed to be loved and understood.
Twenty-two years after my sister’s obsession with the Watergate hearings, Oliver Stone made a very long movie about Richard Nixon, simply called Nixon, and the insanity of his paranoia that brought down his presidency thanks to a silly third-rate burglary. And during this very long movie there are many real life historical figures that pop in and out of the insanity of the scenes that make up Nixon (I guess to imitate the insanity in Nixon’s head?) and one of these real life historical figures is J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI. And in the movie, Oliver Stone dares to show us the J. Edgar Hoover that has been rumored to exist for years, that behind closed doors, Hoover was a big ole sissy queer. Yep, the head honcho, the big cheese (boy, I really, really miss cheese, stupid allergy!), the main tough guy in charge of keeping America safe from itself and so he created what is the Federal Bureau of Investigation; J. Edgar Hoover was in fact gay.
You know you are gay when your boyfriend is putting sunscreen on your nose right after you had the hot pool boy servant take a slice of apple from your mouth by kissing you.
Now that’s gay! 😉
In Clint Eastwood’s film version about Hoover, called J. Edgar, we got a more toned down version of this very homosexual J. Edgar Hoover. But Oliver Stone said fuck that shit when he made his own version of Hoover some 16 years earlier. He put Hoover’s long-rumored flamboyant gayness front and center on the big screen for all of us to see. And I’m not sure if this was a good or a bad thing. When I was watching the movie recently, I was looking at this very queer Hoover with his very queer boyfriend, Clyde Tolson, the second in command at the FBI, and I found myself wondering if this was a good or bad thing for us in the LGBT family. Is it better to show a more toned down, and therefore, a more human version of Hoover that Eastwood did in his film of the man? Or is it better to show us this less human, but probably more accurate version of Hoover and the extreme gayness (to make up for all those many, many moments he couldn’t be himself) that went on behind closed doors in Hoover’s life? In 1995, us gays were so loathed, it probably did harm us back then to show the audience (probably mostly straight) a very, very, very gay Hoover. But now that it isn’t so dangerous to be us, I like that Stone took Hoover to task on his blatant hatred of everything different, yet showing us that Hoover so was one of those “different” too. And I also can’t help but think that tough guy Eastwood couldn’t quite go there with Hoover’s blatant homosexuality, even though he had a more accepting and open-minded audience on his side when he made his film version of Hoover years later. Either way, Hoover has been outed and so karma has finally caught up to him. So if you have always wanted to get your gay revenge on a very bigoted Hoover (or is that just me?), well, here’s the movie to do it! Sure did make me feel better. 🙂 But then when I want a more human version of Hoover to help me understand why he was the way he was, well, that’s when I will turn on J. Edgar.
As for my sister, she still misses those Watergate hearings, but she misses Nixon even more since he passed away some 23 years ago now. She saw Nixon, at just 4 years old, as an actual, living, breathing human being, and not just the caricature the news and his own antics had turned him into. No matter what he did, he was still a human being and it’s important not to forget that about these larger-than-life figures. They are human too, with so many flaws, but with good as well. After I finished watching Nixon recently, I sent my sister a text to tell her that Nixon, “…needed a hug.” And she replied, “Yes, a hug.” Because during the movie, Nixon keeps asking why no one likes him or loves him. Poor guy. He was probably a lot like Hoover, because Hoover just wanted to be liked and loved too. But Hoover had Clyde, and Nixon had Pat (she’s a girl, so don’t get excited that Nixon was gay too, this is why you should know your history). Both men had partners in their life who loved them, but for whatever reason, they just couldn’t feel that love. I often wonder now if Nixon felt my sister loving him for all those years and still now, because at 48, she still loves Richard Nixon and still just wants to give him a hug and tell him that she understands him, so that’s one person at least who did. And after watching Nixon, I understand Nixon now too and want to give him a hug. Now that is movie magic if too liberal for my own good me is wanting to give Nixon a big ole hug and tell him it’s going to be okay. Well, Mr. Nixon, you might have lost the Office of the President, but you still have the love of Pat, Kelli, and now (oh good Lord in heaven, am I really going to say this, yes I am) even me. 🙂
The trailer that is Richard Milhous Nixon and the genius of Anthony Hopkins making us believe this English guy is Tricky Dick! 🙂