Topic: "Dueling Banjos" (3)
Some years ago Frodo gave up news magazines, not because he didn't like them but because the unread simply assumed gargantuan status in almost every available nook and cranny. Occasionally however, a cover catches his eye, and a single-item purchase seems completely justified. Such is the case with the October 29th edition of NEWSWEEK which, on the cover, has a photograph of angry Islamic students with a title "The Most Dangerous Nation In The World Isn't Iraq." The article itself is both engrossing and fully worth the purchase price of the magazine, but it was something else inside that really struck Frodo's imagination.
Recognizing Frodo's penchant for life imitating art, it was Christopher Dickey, son of the author James, who penned a single page article which brought a racing mind to the starting gate. Celebrating the DVD re-release of "Deliverance," Dickey compares the screenplay of his father with the events leading up to and including the Pre-Emptive Iraq War.
In summary, the plot was simple enough, four suburbanites from Atlanta go canoeing in the mountains and find out that the wild river and the people around it are much more than what they anticipated. The character Lewis (portrayed by Burt Reynolds) is the "ubermensch" who believes that it is his destiny to overcome against all obstacles. In the end however, it is Ed (portrayed by Jon Voight), the ordinary man, who transcends himself in order to survive. He is motivated entirely by fear and like the rest of the entourage (Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty), believes that Lewis is a little bit nuts.
Dickey agrees with them, and compares Lewis to Vice President Dick Cheney's "closet fantasy of himself" and, indeed, the entire Bush administration. Ed is merely all the rest of us, and we are running the rapids of a river that is the Iraq War.
One of the locals in the movie asks Lewis "What the hell you want to go fucking around with that river for?," and Lewis responds, "Because it's there." The local pauses, then says "It's there all right. You get in and you can't get out, you gonna wish it wasn't."
Dickey asserts that, after 9/11, the destruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan wasn't a weighty enough challenge for the would-be supermen. Now add in the fact that Lewis is portrayed as a rich boy from Atlanta, whose money came from inherited wealth, who is challenged by survival from near-death experiences. That scenario is little different from a government that is supposed to brake the self-serving when danger and confusion occur. The "core coterie" of ideologues in the Bush administration, none of whom were ever more than weekend warriors, pushed for war at all costs and an end to almost all constraints.
In the end, the survivors slay one of the mountain men and then argue over what to do with the body. When Drew (Ronny Cox) argues that they should tell the police, Lewis denigrates his reference to "the law." Lewis argues for a vote in the name of "democracy," and the terrified companions opt to hide the evidence.
"Democracy" squeals like a piggy, and Ned Beatty is thus characterized in our collective memory, and he becomes Everyman.