Lee Daniels’ The Butler keeps packing auditoriums -- it won the weekend two weeks straight -- and allies of President Ronald Reagan continue to bash the film for historical inaccuracies. The latest to weigh in is Michael Reagan, the former president’s son.
Four days ago, Michael Reagan penned a Newsmax column called “The Butler from Another Planet” that, over the weekend, linked to dozens of conservative websites and was landing in hundreds of thousands of e-mail in-boxes.
The Butler, from The Weinstein Co. and starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, is based on Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986. Much of the film, though, has been fictionalized, including his name (which was changed to Cecil Gaines) and childhood background. The film also gives the butler a son who is a civil rights activist, and who, in real life, did not exist.
“You’ve taken a great story about a real person and real events and twisted it into a bunch of lies,” wrote Michael Reagan, who says he “met and knew the real butler.”
In his column, Michael Reagan asks readers to compare the real butler to Hollywood’s version:
“Guess which one grew up in segregated Virginia, got a job at the White House and rose to become maître d’hôtel, the highest position in White House service?
“Guess which one had a happy, quiet life and was married to the same woman for 65 years? And who had one son who served honorably in Vietnam and never made a peep of protest through the pre- and post-civil rights era?
“Now guess which butler grew up on a Georgia farm, watched the boss rape his mother and then, when his father protested the rape, watched the boss put a bullet through his father’s head?
“Guess which butler feels the pain of America’s racial injustices so deeply that he quits his White House job and joins his son in a protest movement?
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“And guess which butler has a wife (Oprah Winfrey) who becomes an alcoholic and has a cheap affair with the guy next door? (I’m surprised it wasn’t the vice president.)
“After comparing Hollywood’s absurd version of Eugene Allen’s life story with the truth, you wonder why the producers didn’t just call it 'The Butler from Another Planet'.”
Michael Reagan excoriates writer Danny Strong and accuses him of ignoring anecdotes -- which he retells in his column -- that refute his view of a racist Ronald Reagan.
“The real story of the White House butler doesn’t imply racism at all. It’s simply Hollywood liberals wanting to believe something about my father that was never there,” Michael Reagan writes. “Despite what Hollywood’s liberal hacks believe, my father didn’t see people in colors. He saw them as individual Americans. If the liberals in Hollywood -- and Washington -- ever start looking at people the way he did, the country will be a lot better off.”
Strong and the Weinstein Co. did not respond to a request for comment.