Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 12  Num. 19
                     ("Quid coniuratio est?")


Movie Review by Conspiracy Nation

Senator Bulworth (Warren Beatty) has some sort of nervous collapse, then begins ignoring his handlers and says what he really thinks. Interwoven through all this is an assassination plot against Bulworth, financed by Bulworth himself who wants to be murdered and have his daughter collect on a $10 million life insurance policy. The $10 million life insurance policy, in turn, is a little "gift" to Sen. Bulworth from the insurance industry in return for his help impeding insurance reform legislation.

The year is 1996 and Bulworth is up for re-election. He and his people are scrounging for "campaign contributions" (bribes) from corporate America. Senator Bulworth, in one scene, gives a disorderly speech to assembled movie moguls whom he is pumping for cash. But embarrassingly, the Senator informs the gathered tycoons that their product is not very good. He even goes so far as to note that most of them are Jewish and are lobbying for legislation favorable to Israel.

Later, the unbalanced senator goes to a black, all-night rap bar and lets his hair down. He smokes pot and parties all night. From this emerges a latent talent for rap music; henceforth the senator speaks and responds to reporters with rap songs. Typical mainstream movie reviews have complained that Bulworth gives a white version of rap, but the mainstream reviewers miss the point: Bulworth has assimilated black rap music, but the whole point is that he is a white man doing rap -- if he did it too well he'd not be Bulworth!

The soul-brother senator later participates in a debate against his chief opponent in the primary. Questioning the two are a trio of celebrity journalists. Responding to the first question asked, Bulworth goes into a rap about how he's rich, his opponent is rich, the trio of journalists are rich, and that they are all of them bought and paid for by corporate America, which also owns the media outlets televising the debate. "All of us get our money from the same corporations. We all have the same boss." Then, "mysteriously," there are "technical difficulties" and the broadcast is halted.

The black girl who becomes Senator Bulworth's love interest turns out to be his hired assassin. She and the senator discuss "where have things gone wrong since the 1960s?" She acknowledges that some believe assassinations of key populist leaders caused the downfall of "the movement," but she herself traces the defeat of popular movements originating in the 1960s to the decline of America's manufacturing base. As Conspiracy Nation has noted before, the factories are all moving away from the USA, and cheap foreign labor is being imported into the USA to handle the "service jobs" which cannot feasibly be exported. The senator's black girlfriend believes that the failure of "the movement" is due to loss of economic dynamism rooted in a well-employed populace; with the people scrounging just to survive, there is a concurrent diminuition of economic confidence which had in the past translated to a surge in populist democratic movements. With less and less money, the common people have a consequent loss of esteem translating into political apathy. And her opinion itself becomes transformed later into a senatorial rap sequence outlining her ideas -- as if Senator Bulworth has become a blank slate which merely echoes the voices of his constituents.

Ironically, Bulworth winds up as the target of an assassination attempt -- but not at the hands of the original paid killers. Lurking in the background when Bulworth is shot is the insurance lobbyist, who feels the senator has betrayed the insurance industry by his candid explanations of what it is all about. After all, "They had a deal!!" In return for certain "gifts," the senator had agreed to bottleneck pending reform legislation -- yet subsequently he had aired the insurance industry's dirty laundry in videogenic rap music-type press conferences.

The movie closes with us not knowing whether the senator will survive being shot. An intermittently appearing street bum sums it up: We need you as a =spirit=, not as a ghost!

Although some might not agree with all the political views expressed in Beatty's movie, such as his advocacy of socialism, there is still a lot in this movie which "hits the nail on the head." Beatty attacks the media monopoly relentlessly, pointing out how a handful of corporations control what views America is allowed to hear discussed. He even goes so far as to question, "Who exactly owns the airwaves? Aren't they really owned by the American people?" Conspiracy Nation feels that this movie would never have existed without the power of Warren Beatty behind it. Mr. Beatty obviously cares a great deal about where his country is in 1998, and his movie, "Bulworth," boils down to a giant "I care." Maybe he's wrong in some things, maybe the movie gets "preachy" once or twice, but once again (as in Michael Moore's "The Big One"), somehow a bit of the truth has gotten past the corporate censors and into the consciousness of everyday America.

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