Who is Charles Foster Kane?Posted: July 12, 2011
Citizen Kane was one of those movies that they used to show us in school to illustrate the ‘art’ of cinema and I think most of the kids watching resented it because we really didn’t want to see some ‘old’ movie where nothing blew up, no one got shot, there was no shower scene and we had to pay attention to what people were saying in order to understand the point of the film.
Despite my immaturity at the time of the first viewing, I remember thinking Citizen Kane was a great movie, even though, as a kneejerk teenager I was probably predisposed to hate everything that a teacher might have said was worth watching. What I continue to like about it is that it is one of the few films in which the ‘hero’ (Welles’ “Kane”) transforms from a charismatic, idealistic and energetic reformer into a tyrant. Usually we get to see it go the other way around (the ‘bad man’ gets a shot at redemption).
I understand Rupert Murdoch’s career has followed a similar trajectory, except without the “once having been a nice guy” part. According to folks who knew him ‘back in the day,’ when he was in college he was an outspoken leftist and continually publically pilloried his fellow students for perceived defects in character or ideology. As the son of a wealthy Australian newspaper owner, he was apparently one of those people who claimed to ‘love the common man’ without ever wanting to actually go through the inconvenience of having to be a common man. He dropped the ‘Labour’ party bit like other folks droped flares and found his raison d’etre as a “kingmaker.”
My own hope is that, frustrated by the recent “News of the World” scandal, he will soon retire to his Xanadu where he will marinade in isolation and bitterness and eventually mutter the name of a beloved childhood toy before slipping off to the next world. Unfortunately, the real world is not like cinema and the grasping, cynical people seem to live forever.