Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Give the gift of film!

I'm having some trouble seeing what's so awful about President Obama's gift of twenty-five films (on DVD) to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Now, in terms of equivalence, it was probably a lesser gift than what Brown gave Obama (a pen-holder made from the wood of the sister ship of the vessel whose wood became the Oval Office desk, a first edition biography of Winston Churchill, and some toys for the kids), but a lot of people are acting as though this was an incredibly rude diplomatic faux pas.

I'm not bothered by it, though -- not really. Now, a bunch of DVDs in a basket might have looked bad, so maybe they could have made this look better by putting them in a small chest made from some other ship's wood or something. Maybe Obama could have had some of them signed by the respective filmmakers, or...well, I don't know. But I don't understand what's so awful about giving someone copies of films, particularly these particular films, each of which is considered one of the finest American films ever made. Here's the list:

“2001: A Space Odyssey”
“Citizen Kane”
“City Lights”
“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
“Lawrence of Arabia”
“On the Waterfront”
“Raging Bull”
“Schindler’s List”
“Singin’ in the Rain”
“Some Like It Hot”
“Star Wars: Episode IV”
“Sunset Boulevard”
“The General”
“The Godfather”
“The Graduate”
“The Grapes of Wrath”
“The Searchers”
“The Wizard of Oz”
“To Kill a Mockingbird”

I'm not sure on this, but I seem to recall reading at some point during the campaign that Obama is a film buff, so such a gift seems quite reasonable to me; giving copies of films is, to me, not unlike giving copies of favorite books. Now, films differ in that you can't give anyone a "First Edition Star Wars"; it's the same movie in everybody's DVD collection, so maybe that's why this gift seems so prosaic. But film is as fine an art form as any, and a gift of film doesn't strike me as terribly odd, given that how fine the films in this list are.


Call me Paul said...

Yeah, but he's seen 'em all.

LC Scotty said...

The Brits seem pretty outraged by this too.

I'm not a diplomat, and I don't play one on TV, but isn't there a cadre of public servants (permanent like-not 4-8 year types) whose job it is to handle this sort of stuff?

The word is "ofira"

Anonymous said...

How about the fact that they wont Play on his DVD Player in England that uses Region 2 Coding

Or maybe the fact that Brown is Blind in one eye, and gets headaches if he watches TV for a hour or more.

Obama has Botched the dignity meeting between Heads of State


Roger Owen Green said...

Hmm - maybe it IS a faux pas, but it hadn't occurred to me...

JPDeni said...

To me, the biggest faux pas (which has not, to my knowledge been committed by Gordon Brown or his wife) is to criticize a gift. Has nobody heard that it's the thought that counts?

There was also a criticism of Michelle because she had the horrible audacity to give the Brown children (both middle-school aged boys) replicas of Marine One, the president's helicopter. Seems that it would have been okay to give them any other toy helicopter, but there was something wrong with giving them replicas of Marine One.

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