When I think of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m always a bit sad. I mean, he was far from the first basically good man, and far from the first one in the public eye, who let his cock get the better of him. It’s a powerful impulse, sex, and has led to a great deal of human folly. (On my part, too; I have sometimes been no better than I should be.) But it strikes me that seldom could it have had such grievous consequences. I mean, we all knew Bill Clinton was a rather sleazy horndog, but the worst that came out of his infidelity was that his reputation was tarnished. (I’m not counting the idiotic impeachment trial.) MLK’s inability to keep it zipped could have jeopardized the whole civil rights movement, set it back years, if not decades.
Let’s not even belabor the moral lack in having a Man of God sin so often and so spectacularly. It was so monumentally stupid of him, knowing that the FBI was keeping close tabs on all the leaders, to be a serial adulterer. He played right into the hands of that disgusting pervert, J. Edgar Hoover. (And don’t howl at me, I’m not referring to his probable transvestitism and homosexuality. Hoover was a murderer, the worst traitor this country had ever seen until Dick Cheney, and perverted in more ways than I can even enumerate.) If the story had blown wide open before his death, the public face of the civil rights movement would have been tarnished beyond repair. I think it was lucky that LBJ was in office at this time, and seems to have held the fucking FBI head back from that course.
Which makes it a bit galling that this movie portrays Lyndon as having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Voting Rights Act, and other events surrounding the Selma March. This is simply not true. It is, in fact, a lie, and unworthy of director Ava DuVernay and writer Paul Webb, who have otherwise produced a pretty compelling portrait of those scary days when people like George Wallace and fascist sheriff Jim Clark could order Negro heads to be split right out in the open, with impunity. When the KKK could execute a Catholic priest and know they would get away unpunished. Even though LBJ spent several years doing his best to kill me, I think he was one of our best presidents. The Republicans are still trying to undo all the social good he did for the people of this country. God damn his inability to get out of Vietnam while the gettin’ was good.
The movie is a bit slow, ponderous even, here and there. It is kept from being a yawner mainly by the performance of David Oyelowo as Reverend King. He really nails it, helped a little by the fact that he somewhat resembles MLK, but it was his voice that did it for me. Sometimes I could actually hear Martin speaking. And guess what? Both Mr. Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo, who plays Coretta Scott King, are British-Nigerian!