Five Minutes: JFK

Audio: Use controls to play, pause, etc.

Download 'JFK': Five-Minute Commentary Track (mp3, 2.0 MB).

(Culture Snob’s fourth offering for its own Misunderstood Blog-a-thon.)

'JFK': Don't trust what you can't seeWhen we say that a movie is more style than substance, we typically mean it derisively.

Oliver Stone’s JFK has a ton of stuff — with the director’s cut running nearly three and a half hours — that was mistaken for its substance. But the meat of the movie is its style, because it’s the fuel that made the film so combustible.

The movie was greeted with contentious debate upon its release in 1991, but Stone’s critics and supporters completely missed the boat by arguing about facts, theories, and cover-ups. JFK works not as an argument but as a style of argument — sly and forceful in equal measure — and an exemplar of contemporary propaganda.

JFK uses two primary tools: its mass (the accumulation of details) and its form. In this brief audio commentary — the second of a feature called “Five Minutes” — we deal with the latter: how Oliver Stone uses stock footage and re-creations to accompany a speech or assertion as a way of giving weight and “truth” to it.

A note on audio editing: I trimmed some dead spots in my commentary — it was early! — so it won’t match up exactly with the described scene.


The always objective Culture Snob.

I agree that JFK is a form of Propaganda. HOwever Oliver’s template for this propoganda was a book called “On the Trail of the Assassins.” This book brings many of these propoganda ideas into a much more compelling and believable context. This book is also written by the only trial attorney to have ever brough the case of JFKs murder to trial.

I’m not saying that Garrison is always right, but his research on Lee Oswald is nothing short of cryptic. Oswald Joins the army learns to speak Russian. Oswald defects from the US, Oswald comes back into the country despite being lalbeled a communist at the apex of the cold war. Oswald get’s various random jobs at a mental Institutuion, the school book depository. The ease of his travel, and his acceptance back into the country after he clearly defects is strange.

As Garrison points out Oswald is being ‘Sheepdipped.’ He is being painted as an ambivalent sociopath who is a ommunist one minute and an anti Castro Cuban the next minute. Oh and in his spare time he also works in a mental Institution. This is a deliberately random resume that wreaks of effort in its randomness.

This isn’t propaganda.

We have to remember that if propaganda of this nature is the first step tp uncovering the reality than it is a necessary evil.

Propoganda or not, how can anyone make a logical argument with Oswald as the sole assasin. Statistics tell me that Oswald didn’t shoot him.


How can anyone person say that Lee Oswald used a faulty rifle to hit a moving target in under six seconds. The fact that Oswald was a bad shot is eye witness testimony from his marine buddies. This is not an OLiver Stone MOntage.

I think Oliver’s theories are protected by Garrison’s relentless if not obssessive approach to case building.

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