The Big Issue : Edition 445
thebigissue 7–20JuN2013 15 ALMOST 50 yeArS have now passed since President John F Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas. Ask almost any person who was over the age of five on that day and they can tell you where they were when they heard the news. Kennedy’s death was the 9/11 of its time. Since then authors, filmmakers, researchers and conspiracy buffs have analysed and dismantled the incident. In Dallas there are JFK Assassination Tours, and at the former Texas School Book Depository (from which Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have fired the fatal shots), the Sixth Floor Museum plays interviews with witnesses and displays memorabilia. In the first 30 years after his death, more than 600 books were published on the assassination. A dozen new ones arrive this year, including They Killed Our President, JFK Has Been Shot and Five Days in November. Director Oliver Stone (Platoon, 1986; Born on the Fourth of July, 1989) filmed his own take on events. The movie JFK (1991) told the story of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) as he discovered there was more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. The film, based on Garrison’s book, was nominated for eight Oscars, including three for writer-director-producer Stone. It caused much debate when it was released. “I’ve never spent so much time defending a film,” recalls Stone, who suffered a tremendous amount of stress as a result. “No movie in the history took more shit than JFK.” It seems that most Americans do not believe the US government’s explanation of the events. A national Gallup poll found that 56% of the US population do not accept the findings of the Warren Commission, which in 1964 concluded that Oswald acted alone. “When something momentous happens, even the most trivial detail seems significant,” explains Arthur Goldwag, the author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies (2009). “People reject the official report because the film footage seems pregnant with enigmas, from the expectant expression on the faces of the onlookers on the grassy knoll, where some claim shots were also coming from, to the play of the shadows in the background.” “People need to make sense of the event, and conspiracy theories were the result,” explains professor John McAdams, who wrote the book JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy. “It does not make sense to many that a single man can thebigissue8–21NOV2013 15 retroactive 1, 1964, by robert rauschenberg. oil and silkscreen ink on canvas. © untitled press inc./vaga licensed by viscopy, 2013 change their world, and that a sheer misfortune can change history. They would rather believe that dark forces were at work.” “Organised action, however corrupt, suggests control; the madman theory suggests chaos,” adds Rush DeNooyer, the director of new documentary, Cold Case: JFK. “It’s more comforting to think there was a big, vast plan involved and that we’re in control of our lives.” In DeNooyer’s documentary, a cast of forensic scientists use modern-day techniques to re-examine the assassination. It suggests that Kennedy was likely killed by “one guy with a grudge and a gun”, says the director. “The forensic investigation was filled with mistakes that fuelled the vast array of conspiracy theories swirling around this assassination.” The new findings support the Warren Commission’s conclusion, long derided by hardcore JFK conspiracy theorists as the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’. Still, the folks behind Cold Case: JFK have little hope that they will change anyone’s minds. Why? “Because people really enjoy conspiracy theories,” claims DeNooyer. While Cold Case: JFK and the new books explore old and new assassination theories, a new film, Parkland, takes on the events from another perspective. The film tells the story of Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels, portrayed by Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton. Sorrels is the man who climbed onto the rear of the open Lincoln Continental limo in order to protect Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline. Zac efron, a former teen idol, plays the only (and highly inexperienced) doctor on duty at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital when the critically wounded President is taken there. Sideways star Paul Giamatti portrays Abraham Zapruder, who filmed the President’s motorcade at the time of the shooting. His resulting footage is “the most examined and investigated pieces of celluloid in the history of film,” claims Parkland director Peter Landesman. FK LIFE DEATH after LATE THIs monTH mArKs THE 50TH AnnIvErsAry oF THE AssAssInATIon oF PrEsIDEnT JoHn F KEnnEDy. THE mILEsTonE HAs ALrEADy gEnErATED morE booKs, FILms AnD Tv sErIEs. In DEATH, AmErIcA , s youngEsT PrEsIDEnT LIvEs on.