Jackie Screams in Silence

Silent are the many Class War dead buried beneath the myths of Camelot

Watching Jackie felt like eating jagged broken glass thru my eyes as if eyeballs were little, bloody mouths wired directly into my brains. The movie is intense, jarring, and rich with excellent and challenging performances. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Texas six days before Thanksgiving 1963 was a sucker punch to the American gut.

One could quibble about actress Natalie Portman’s attempt at Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy’s accent, but her harrowing performance rivets and horrifies. Portman becomes Jackie with such wrenching intensity it’s as if we’re invading the former First Lady’s privacy. The film portrays the Journalist, played by Billy Crudup, as an unnamed man but understood to be Theodore H. White, a historian and journalist turned propagandist and Camelot mythmaker.

The movie is in part a portrayal of a woman’s grief and shock at the public murder of her husband while at the pinnacle of their power. The film also, less convincingly but nevertheless disturbingly, illuminates the collusion between the chain-smoking former First Lady and the Journalist to control the public narrative and secure the myth of the American Camelot as “truth.” In its own unique way, Jackie reflects the legacy of Greek tragedy and Shakespearean drama enmeshed with blood and brains in the way of American movies.

What makes this collusion even more bizarre was Jackie’s sterilization of her dead husband’s true legacy. To his credit, JFK was in many ways a traitor to his class of wealthy, bourgeoisie capitalists, and this article addresses this further down. Jackie Kennedy, however, fought, plotted, connived, and strategized to elevated JFK to the lofty, neo-feudal status of Camelot. A powerful and determined person, she was also relentless and ferocious as she grabbed the helm of history. Continue reading “Jackie Screams in Silence” »