Media Moment: Death of a President
Queen Related: Reference to WWRY
You might remember the controversy this mockumentary generated at its debut in 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival. The fictionalized assassination of George W. Bush was deemed offensive and immoral by Bush supporters while his critics saw it as an insightful commentary on America’s evolving police state.
The film chronicles the shooting of Bush by a Syrian-American at a protest in Chicago. This inevitably leads to an international confrontation between Syria and the U.S. At one point, an anti-Bush sign (see bottom image) is shown that is obviously a reference to Queen’s grassroots anthem, WWRY.
When I saw the connection being made between Bush and WWRY on the protest sign (is it real or fabricated?) I immediately thought of the cassette single I have that intercuts a George H.W. Bush speech on the Gulf War from 1991 with snippets of We Are the Champions.
What I find interesting is that the ideological contrast between the two songs — WWRY being a rallying cry for the underdog and WATC being a “see, we kicked your ass,” salt-in-the-wounds kind of song — parallels the two Bush situations.
Bush Sr. felt that Desert Storm had positioned the U.S. with the upper hand with the expectation of an easy victory over Iraq, while the fictional Syrian protest in the film reflects the resistance of U.S. influence by the oppressed in that part of the world.
Could the Bush situations be inverted and still work with the two songs? I think so. Just think of the protest images by the Iraqis during the Gulf War (WWRY) and the premature “Mission Accomplished” celebrations put on by Bush Jr. (WATC). It’s all in the way you spin it, I suppose.
Either way, I don’t think Freddie nor Brian would be particularly happy with their songs’ usage for political purposes.