By Paul Meekin
I like a popcorn flick as much as the next guy, but sometimes I like to be challenged by the movies I watch. I like to learn things, I like to have the things I thought I learned turn out to not be true.
And recently, I’ve enjoyed watching movies that ascribe to, or support, or challenge, my Libertarian views. Be it explicitly, implicitly, or simply by demonstrating what can happen in a world of big government gone awry.
Thus, submitted for your approval, discussion, debate, and enjoyment, are 5 quality movies that will appeal to the Libertarian in all of us.
5. Lorenzo’s Oil – George Miller
“Lorenzo’s Oil” is an intensely technical film. Based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone, it dives into the scientific nature of adrenoleukodystrophy – a rare disease that, at the time, was fatal within 24 months.
The movie is specific in its depiction of the disease, what causes it, what has been done to combat it in the past, and most importantly – what prevents the medical community from attacking it the way they should.
What is that reason? Regulation. The need to clinical trials and approval to move forward with treatment. Which is a pace unacceptable to Augusto and Michaela – so they take matters into their own hands.
The beauty of the film is that it paints a fair picture. There are no villains. The medical community isn’t evil or deliberately dragging their feet, but rather hamstrung. The movie also paints a brutal picture of what Augusto and Michaela son is going through via the pained wails of their son that are omnipresent in the movie.
There are questions in here that speak to the libertarian brain. Questions like to what extent are you allowed – and should you be allowed, to medicate your own child – including utilizing experimental treatments that go against Doctor’s orders?
How this film turns out I won’t ruin. But it’s thought provoking, informative, and exceedingly well acted by Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon.
4. The Dark Knight (2008) – Christopher Nolan
Here’s a unique one. “The Dark Knight” is one of the best superhero movies ever made. It’s more ‘film’ than ‘movie’ if that makes sense.
It’s also a metaphor for the war on terrorism. Batman is your sovereign nation – with access to all the technology and resources in the world, but restrained by his ‘rules’ – namely that he cannot kill. Meanwhile, he is fighting an enemy – The Joker, who happily watches money burn, tortures citizens to get what he wants, and in fact relishes and welcomes pain, death, and torture. Some men want to watch the world burn, and he is one them.
The metaphor here is that the United States is in a similar situation regarding the war on Terror. Sure, we happily murder folks, but we are a nation fighting an enemy that doesn’t fight by our rules. We’re playing checkers and they’re playing “let me shoot you with my Bazooka”, as it were.
In the movie, Batman turns to a city-wide warrantless wiretap of every.single.technological.device in the city in order to track down The Joker, violating the personal privacy of innocent citizens in the name of the greater good. Surely this sounds familiar. The Batman claims it’s a one time thing, of course.
And it is here this movie butts up against Libertarian ideology. It’s an excellent movie and exciting – but are Batman’s methods sound?
Would you support them?
Some movies can disagree with our personal beliefs and still be excellent. The American President is one of my favorite movies ever but it advocates for big government, for example.
“The Dark Knight” has a hard conservative ideology and explores it in a way that really, truly, makes you think critically about the nature of war and how to combat an enemy that will do anything, when you are only willing to do so much.
3. JFK (1991) – Oliver Stone
Don’t Trust The Government: The Movie. Oliver Stone’s 188 minute opus is about the various conspiracies surrounding JFK’s assassination. Following the journey of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison from denial, to curiosity, to full throated and well articulated rage regarding the ‘official’ account of what happened, JFK is about the death of JFK, but also about the loss of one man’s trust in the government he works for, and our nation’s loss of innocence in the wake of that fateful day in Texas.
The movie is a chaotic melting pot of conspiracy theories, documentary footage, redacted documents, government contradictions, and rage – culminating in an incredible monologue that puts all the pieces together, proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the official story regarding what happened that day, is anything but the whole truth and more importantly, and most damningly, that the federal government is willing, and did, lie about one of the most tragic events in modern American history.
2. Dallas Buyers Club
“Dallas Buyers Club” is “Lorenzo’s Oil” meets “Breaking Bad.” Less technical, more angry, more raw, more gritty. I’ve written about this film at length, and the fact I’m including it here should illustrate just how perfect of a Libertarian movie this is.
Focusing on the fight for quality medication during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, “Dallas Buyers Club” finds the HIV+ Ron Woodruff transporting ‘unapproved’ drugs from Mexico (and Japan) to America in order to satiate the need for quality HIV medication, while human trials for the drug AZT were really just beginning and ultimately proving difficult.
“Dallas Buyers Club” plays less fair than Lorenzo’s oil, but the situation is more urgent here – this isn’t a single dying child, or even a thousand dying children. It’s millions of people in pain and turmoil and there was no help in immediate sight. The lack of swift action by the medical community and federal government was unacceptable.
This is an Oscar winning movie that flies by and holds your attention the entire time. If you haven’t seen it, and consider yourself a libertarian? Do it now. You won’t be sorry.
1. Dr. Stranglove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb – Stanley Kubrick.
I don’t like people who think they’re better than me telling me what to do. I don’t like old white people telling me I shouldn’t smoke pot or have a black girlfriend or drop acid on weekends if I so choose.
Why? Because they are NOT better than me. Every single person in this world has flaws, prejudices, vices, and insecurities. When those people are given power, and then act as if they are without sin, you get a situation like the one depicted in Dr. Strangelove.
Depicting powerful, confident, and ultimately stupid men that generate a situation in which Nuclear Annihilation is a near certainty, Dr. Strangelove follows these men as they try to stop it – while at the same time continuing to lie, obfuscate, and scheme in the name of ‘national’ interest.
This is the fundamental problem with federal government. Imperfect people afraid to appear as such, so they hide behind big words and big actions and big guns and big bombs and little lies and bad ideas that doom us all.
Dr. Strangelove doesn’t advocate for an agenda so much as it says having any kind of agenda at a time of national crisis is a good way to get yourself blown to pieces.You don’t need to be a libertarian to heed its message.
But it is the kind of movie that just might make you one. Why, exactly, do these men, only one of whom was elected ‘by the people’ get to have their finger on the bomb(s)? Why exactly are there this many bombs in the first place?
Dr. Strangelove is a timeless movie. It is hilarious and heartbreaking and if you haven’t seen it, do so.