At 10 p.m. on the night of President Obama’s inauguration, KERA (Channel 13) airs Crawford, Texas, a documentary about the town George W. Bush adopted as his own shortly before beginning his run for the White House nearly 10 years ago. It was shown Monday night on a big screen at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas, thanks to a collaboration between the Video Association of Dallas and the Dallas Peace Center. Shown at last year’s AFI Dallas, the filmmakers made their work available to organizations for screenings in honor of the White House changing of the guard.
Watching the film just minutes from Preston Hollow, the swanky Dallas neighborhood where President Bush and his wife recently purchased a home, I couldn’t help but question the theatricality of his Crawford vacations. But that question is asked more poignantly in the film by Crawford’s own longtime residents. Bush is not the only criticized entity, however; other targets include protesters of the war in Iraq and the myth-making media, from Crawford’s own smalltown newspaper to the international press. Arguments from all sides are challenged, and the audience Monday night reflected that diversity. Two staunch Bush supporters went so far as to yell back at the screen, “We’re peaceful people!” and “Respect!” after moments on screen that elicited laughter from the more liberal members of the audience.
Though viewing at home via PBS may not include the post-screening “discussion” (does anyone really feel more enlightened after listening to two extremes yell at each other?), it also eliminates the residual bone-shaking noise from blockbusters screening in adjacent rooms. Thinking and special effects don’t usually walk hand-in-hand, not even as neighbors.