Michael C. Ruppert
My opinion of the movie TRAFFIC is very different
from those who have criticized it for not going far enough.
Instead of going into the movie to nit pick I went to see
what, as a piece of art, it did to the audience and how
it differed from the propaganda that this culture has been
fed for decades.
I loved the movie.
I have had some experience with filmmakers
and films over the years. Big ones. Some of them are subscribers
to "From The Wilderness." I understand the difference
between art and political agendas. A filmmaker's job is
to make art and he is not to be held responsible for correcting
all of the social ills in the world. Movies that start from
the latter premise almost always fail. Steven Soderbergh
took a huge risk with TRAFFIC and it paid off handsomely.
The risk was to expose the hypocrisy and futility of the
drug war in a context that was reachable for an audience
that relies upon Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings for their
world view; an audience that frequently must check with
someone whether it is alright to express a unique opinion.
These are the people who buy movie tickets. These are the
people who probably don't have a clue that the CIA deals
drugs or that drug money has become a food staple of the
Forget that the film didn't mention Colombia.
Forget that the film showed teenaged girls doing drugs.
Forget that the film did not mention the CIA. To satisfy
all the bitter critics who complain that the movie should
have been made about them instead, or that it should have
met all of their personal criteria misses the heart of TRAFFIC
and it indicates no knowledge at all about how movies are
made. To have satisfied all these arm-chair dilettantes
would have resulted in a six hour movie that no one would
have watched. It would not have been distributed and the
CIA would probably have killed it with one phone call.
The trick is to make a movie that people watch.
I have been around Hollywood a long time and
I know these things to be true. Where Steven Soderbergh
took a risk was to expose the futility and lunacy of the
failed war on drugs. I saw the movie in the jam packed theater
at Universal City Studios - the heart of Hollywood. The
theater was filled with a rainbow audience, young and old,
children who had done drugs and parents who had watched
children suffer in courts or with addictions. The audience,
in its humanity, breathed and felt as one in a moment of
shared logic and recognition. Ex-cop sitting next to gang-banger,
sitting in front of grandparents, sitting in front of teen-agers.
The most powerful line in the entire movie
was when Drug Czar-designate Michael Douglas resigned at
a press conference before even accepting the job and said,
"I don't know how to wage war on my own family."
The audience heaved a sigh in oneness and recognition that
someone had told them a truth they did not expect to hear.
It was OK to acknowledge their own feelings. What is so
powerful is that the line almost never made it into the
movie. Director Steven Soderbergh, according to Patrick
Dollard, the Executive Vice President of Propaganda Films
Management, said that Soderbergh put the line in at the
last minute. For me, it made the movie and for Soderbergh
it was the big risk. I was asked by Propaganda Films to
review the movie and come in to the office to discuss it.
Propaganda also willingly and eagerly took a copy of the
tape of my December lecture at USC on "Wall Street's
War for Drug Money."
Steven Soderbergh struck a huge chord. He
pushed the envelope of art and found a hungry spot in the
hearts of audiences that know nothing abut what we do in
special interest groups. And by making a really good movie
that was also critical about the drug war he made it culturally
acceptable and politically correct for people to challenge
it in the open. TRAFFIC is for the war on drugs what COMING
HOME or M*A*S*H were to Vietnam. And you can almost forget
what the "New York Times" and "The Washington
Post" want you to believe now. Hollywood took a gamble
and it is paying off. The paradigm is shifting and it will
not be stopped. A more telling review of TRAFFIC will come
as AMPAS (the Academy) considers it among the contenders
for Best Picture of the Year.
Never underestimate the ability of grass to
grow out between the cracks in the sidewalk. TRAFFIC is
that kind of a movie.
Mike Ruppert "From The Wilderness"