27 September 2006

Root Causes: An Obsession

Why the obsessive need to find 'root causes' for every non-western maniac who darkens this earthly realm?

From Carina Chocano's review of The Last King of Scotland
Whitaker plunges deep into the psychology of the role, portraying Amin as an erratic personality whose charisma and sociability — first-rate survival mechanisms — mask a deep-seated insecurity, searing resentment of foreigners and a galloping paranoia. Amin's bizarre personality was in many ways the product of an impoverished childhood in an occupied nation. Abandoned by his father, he eventually went to work for the British army, where he cleaned, cooked and joined the rugby team. It was there his fondness for Scotland bloomed, though the Scots he so admired allegedly got him riled up for matches by hitting him on the head with a hammer.

Idi Amin was an insane megalomaniac (yet still considered a good enough Muslim to be offered residence and protection by the Saudis while in his lengthy exile). Looking for 'root causes' for his madness is absurd. Finding 'root causes' that manage to blame the United Kingdom's colonial presence in Uganda is even more absurd.

I'm not going to hold the reviewer's idiocy against this film. Forest Whitaker is one of the best actors working, and this seems like a role that he can inhabit with abandon. This looks like a must see film. That interlude from the review that I highlight seems to be completely pulled from Ms. Chocano's ass, and her obsessive need to find a way to blame eeeevil western hegemony for the ills of a place like Uganda.

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