Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Left-Winger's Guide to the Presidency

Last night, I had the opportunity to see the long-awaited big screen version of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy. I haven't seen the television miniseries in years, but I never read the five-part book trilogy, so I was able to view the movie with a general idea of the story without worrying about how it compares to the TV show. Like so many screen adaptations, HGTTG benefits from Touchstone's (i.e. Disney's) effects budget. Arthur Dent's factory tour with Slartibartfast was particularly breathtaking. Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the film, as far as being a theatrical adaptation goes, was the problem of cramming everything into less than two hours. As a result, the film ends with everything happy and resolved -- as Arthur and his companions zoom away to the Restaurant at the End of The Universe. I rather enjoyed that sequence of the TV series, as I recall.

Overall, the movie was quite enjoyable except for one thing: Zaphod Beeblebrox. Zaph is an elected official, and his character is used as a focus for commentary on contemporary politics. Or, to be blunt, he seems to exist only as a vehicle for Bush-bashing. Consider the following:

  • Zaphod Beeblebrox is President of the Galaxy.
  • Zaphod was elected in a most controversial manner due to a problem that many voters had with their ballots.
  • Zaphod is frequently referred to as "stupid" and an "idiot".
  • Zaphod is a drinking, freewheeling, frat boy type.
  • Zaphod tells his companions that, in order to be President, he can only have half of a brain (hence his two heads).
  • Zaphod's dresses like a cowboy and speaks with a Texas accent.
Did Michael Moore direct this movie? Stuff like this makes me yearn for a ratings system based on political bias. The reason that I do not go out to see movies very often is that I can generally anticipate political bias (either of the stars or of the film itself) ahead of time. The characterization of Zaphod Beeblebrox (or Zaphod Bashinbush) caught me off guard and made me wish that I hadn't bothered to see the damned flick. Who wants to go see a comedy and come away ticked off? That's seventeen bucks that I'll never get back.

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