Stuff Black People Don't Like has recently come across a film that HBO would like to think was never made. Better yet, this film that aired for a brief week back in 1997 and was quickly thrown down the memory hole looks to be a movie ripped from the headlines of 2010.
The writers, producers, actors and director of this film had absolutely no idea what a prescient work of art they were working on in 1997, but watching The Second Civil War today leaves the impression that a few Cassandra's were surreptitiously involved with this product during its creation.
Have you not heard of The Second Civil War? Starring Phil Hartman as the hapless President of the United States; Denis Leary as a rouge reporter; Beau Bridges as the opportunistic Idaho Governor; and James Earl Jones as an elderly newscaster, The Second Civil War is billed as "a very uncivil comedy" but instead raises some unfortunate questions about life in the United States. Becoming obvious that the nation was quickly disuniting, The Second Civil War was an attempt to use comedy to showcase a burgeoning tragedy:
Yes, the film is believed to have been a comedy when it was released, but for some reason the film only lasted on HBO for a week and was difficult to find on VHS before the advent of DVD. One writer in 1997 penned these words when describing the experience he felt upon viewing The Second Civil War:
The 1997 film is set in a United States in which foreign immigration has skyrocketed: The Mayor of Los Angeles speaks only in Spanish, Rhode Island is populated mostly by Chinese-Americans, and Alabama has a congressman from India. When an atomic weapon is used in Pakistan, an international organization makes plans to bring orphans to Idaho. Idaho governor Jim Farley (Bridges) orders the state's National Guard to close its borders, and justifies his actions with speeches about how immigrants threaten the American way of life; he sees no contradiction between this stance and the fact that the Governor himself routinely indulges in Mexican food, Mexican soap operas, and an affair with a Mexican-American reporter (Peña). Despite the best efforts of his press secretary Jimmy Cannon (Kevin Dunn), Farley remains largely oblivious to the national crisis he's the center of, since Farley is more concerned with rekindling his romance with Peña rather than dealing with national affairs.
Meanwhile, the President of the United States (Hartman) turns out to be an equally ineffectual leader. Reputed as indecisive, the President relies his decision-making entirely on his advisors, most notably his unofficial chief advisor, lobbyist Jack B. Buchan (Coburn). Buchan, however, is less concerned with the good of the nation, and more concerned with politics, especially how the President's actions will play on television (resulting, for example, in a 72-hour deadline being shortened to 67 1/2 hours to prevent the news from interrupting Susan Lucci's farewell appearance on the soap opera All My Children). Buchan regularly influences the President's decisions by manipulating his desire to emulate previous U.S. Presidents, even going so far as to peppering presidential statements with fictitious "quotes" from David Eisenhower.
Meanwhile, the NN cable network is reporting the events and influencing them at the same time. News director Mel (Dan Hedaya) attempts to time events to maximize ratings, while his staff becomes polarized over the political issues involved in the conflict between the Governor and the President.
As the deadline approaches, the Governor and the President call in, respectively, the Idaho National Guard and the United States Army. Tensions rise when the commanders of both units turn out to be bitter rivals from the Gulf War. Meanwhile, governors from other states send in their own National Guard units to aid one side or the other, causing the conflict to escalate into the national arena. The nation starts dividing itself into anti- and pro-immigrant factions; Mexican-American pro-immigrant rioters bomb the Alamo, while anti-immigrants retaliate by bombing the Statue of Liberty, because of its plaque's pro-immigrant rhetoric.
Eventually, the Governor's girlfriend convinces him to back down from the conflict and resign, but a series of misunderstandings and mutinies leads to a major battle between anti- and pro-immigrant armed forces at the Idaho border, resulting in many casualties and a danger that there really will be a second American Civil War. At the movie's close, news reports indicate that hostilities have ceased, but the immigration issue is unresolved.
Substitute Arizona for Idaho and you see why this film is so important to understanding life in America in 2010. The uproar over a state simply trying to enforce existing laws that the Federal Government refuses to enforce showcase that we no longer live in a world where the film The Second Civil War was merely a laughing matter.
The movie is meant to be a comedy with serious overtones. Since humor is so subjective, you may or may not find the movie funny. I found it to be very much so — plus the story moves along so quickly that my mind never wandered.
The movie takes place in the "near future." The government of India drops a nuclear bomb on Pakistan — turning hundreds of thousands of children into orphans. A Save-the-Children-type organization goes to Pakistan to bring back a few thousand of them, planning to settle them in Idaho. But the Governor of Idaho (Beau Bridges) is a former liberal who won election by turning conservative and bashing immigrants. So he announces that he's closing the Idaho border to the rest of the country — to keep all new immigrants out...
As Hollywood people have traditionally been strongly ideological, outspoken liberals, this is a good sign. If even some of them can see that government doesn't work, you can imagine how many Americans can.Unfortunately, The Second Civil War seems dead and buried.
The film even predicted the rise of Bobby Jindal, the Hindu governor of Louisiana (in the movie Alabama had a Congressman that looked strikingly like Jindal).
Some of the main points made in the film include:
- The de-industrialization of United States (thanks to the glories of Free Trade) made fighting a conflict within its own borders impossible, as the factories that built the spare parts for tanks and other war vehicles had moved overseas where they could be made cheaper.
- A Disingenuous White Liberal woman who heads a charity that wants to move the orphans from Pakistan to Idaho is the person who triggers the entire war. She even calls Denis Leary's character a Fascist for failing to agree with her, with his character responding "isn't it convenient to call anyone who doesn't agree with you a Fascist?"
- Los Angeles is completely Hispanic, with only Spanish spoken. Black people have been pushed out of the city, yet wage war upon those who displaced them. During a prominent scene where the mayor of Los Angeles excoriates the governor of Idaho for daring to close the borders (speaking only Spanish), Black people disrupt the conference with a barrage of gunfire.
- The Alamo is blown up by Mexicans, who then celebrate the destruction of the symbol of Anglo aggression by having a fiesta that is covered incredulously by a white news reporter (the majority of the film takes place in a fictional newsroom) . She attempts to find someone who speaks English, but a Mexican with beer in hand tells her - laughing - "you don't have to speak English here anymore."
- The Statue of Liberty is destroyed by patriots in a response to the Alamo being blown up by illegal immigrants who found the culture, traditions and history of the United States unbecoming to their culture, traditions and history that they decided not leave in Mexico.
- The only mistake in the film is having a Nation of Islam Caucus that has considerable influence. In Black Run America (BRA) that we actually live in, Mein Obama is now president and he is quite chummy with people who have ties to the Nation of Islam.
- The governor of Idaho is profiled in one of the newscasts and his campaign slogan is "America: as it should be". Though he has an affair with a Mexican reporter, the governor of Idaho states why he closes the border by stating that states with small populations can be overwhelmed demographically (indeed, Rhode Island becomes a Chinese state). Thus the need to defend their way of life.
It is through the scenes in the newsroom the real tragedy of the film is exposed, as attempts to remain objective in the face of national disunity quickly dissolve into warring camps. The film ends with employees of the newsroom watching the images of Idaho being invaded by the Federal Government and a monologue by James Earl Jones, talking about how America is like a piece of art, a work in progress.
The points brought up in The Second Civil War are left unsettled and unresolved as the credits roll. Remember, the film is purportedly a comedy, but the ending is far-from the original meaning of the word and how 'comedies' ended in Ancient Greece and Rome.
There is no comedy in The Second Civil War. It is the one film that Hollywood wishes was never made.
Stuff Black People Don't Like started out as a joke. The film The Second Civil War was also purportedly a joke. We at SBPDL see more truth in the film then comedy.
We are no longer laughing. It is a film highly recommended to all readers of this website (and can be purchased here).
The film starts out by simply stating, "Sometime in the near future."
SBPDL will now ask the question: How close to that future are we right now?