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TPAM in the Media: All the Headlines about President Lindbergh

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David Simon is adapting Philip Roth's The Plot Against America for HBO: 


HBO has officially committed to a new six-part miniseries from David Simon and Ed Burns — the same team behind The Wire and miniseries Generation Kill. The Plot Against America is based on the acclaimed novel by Philip Roth, and imagines an alternate American history told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey. The story follows the family as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator-hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation towards fascism.

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Esquire magazine has a good article up highlighting Lindbergh's disgusting anti-Semitic/white nationalism sentiments and actions. Apparently, his wife's views were pretty much aligned with his.

I've talked about the show with several people I know (though I haven't seen the first episode yet) and was surprised to learn that none of them knew about his abhorrent beliefs which I'm pretty sure I first learned about either on an episode of PBS' American Experience or the PBS doc, Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby. 

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This review criticizes the mini series for being too explicit in parallels to today's politics.


But the latter scene also embodies when HBO's series goes too far. As the men gather outside their homes after the speech, Philip watches through the window. From below, a voice is heard: "When a man tells you he's a son of a bitch, believe him."

This anachronistic version of the now-oft repeated Maya Angelou quote that made waves after Trump announced his presidential run is jarring. I'm sorry, is this scene supposed to be the 1940s version of Twitter?

The answer seems to be a deliberate "yes." And it's only the beginning of the series taking scene after scene from the novel and spinning them 90 degrees off-axis to insert over-the-top parallels between Roth's vision of 1940 and the present day. Episode 2, for example, concludes with the election of 1940: the Levins believe Roosevelt will handily take the night, then they slowly drain as the Lindbergh-favoring returns come in. The movie theater playing the newsreel of Roosevelt's concession speech doesn't hold quite the shock of MSNBC and CNN on election night. But the show works hard to draw the direct line so the viewer will make the jump.



Simon talks at length in the official podcast about how the election of Trump was an inspiration for him to make this show.

For instance, he says after Obama, he fooled himself into thinking fascism can't happen here any more.

So if there are more overt references in the show to today's politics, I guess Simon deliberately wants people to notice.

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