With the aide of much archival footage and the immense knowledge of Brown University professor James G. Blight, Koji Masutani’s Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived basically argues that nearly 60,000 United States armed forces wouldn’t have lost their lives in Vietnam had John F. Kennedy not been assassinated. Duh. For those born yesterday, the proof—or, rather, “fundamental variables”—that gives credence to this virtual history is the number of times Kennedy avoided combat with other countries: Structured around episodes detailing Kennedy’s non-wars with Cuba, Berlin, Laos and Vietnam, the film testifies to Kennedy’s remarkable resolve, which was of a considerably different caliber than that evinced by Lyndon B. Johnson when he took over the presidency. That’s the extent of the film, which argues a what-if scenario with scant hysteria but is only striking when it shows footage of Johnson talking up how we needed to march toward the inevitable and fight evil so as to ward of a greater evil. Of course, even then the film doesn’t tell us anything we shouldn’t already know. Implicit here—“the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” according to the film’s press notes—is that George W. Bush also took us down the wrong path. And that you should vote for Obama. But seriously. Duh.
- 80 min
- Koji Masutani
- James G. Blight, Janet M. Lang, Koji Masutani, David A. Welch
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