Blow Me Down

Johnny Depp proves to be the best Clinton impersonator this side of Hollywood, deftly portraying the rise and fall of the former President.


How can anyone hear Blow and not think of Slick Willie? It’s like hearing Snatch and not thinking about Gennifer Flowers.

Blow begins with an American flag superimposed inside the letters B-L-O-W. (This is a more concise summary of Clinton’s presidency than you will find in any history book.) Next, we are introduced to young George, soaking up the oppression of his working-class family in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Like Clinton, who inhaled the squabbles of lower-class living in Hot Springs, Arkansas, George determines to do whatever it takes to never be poor again. As he grows older, he soon discovers his calling . . . to sell illusory hope as a drug dealer.

Of course, the drug business represents politics, filled with deceit and delusion, connections and backstabbings, power and manipulation, not to mention eccentric characters who are addicted to the hallucinations that they themselves peddle. The twenty-something George proves to be an immediate talent, wooing men and women to rally around him, to either buy what he is selling or help him succeed in selling. George, with the help of his well-connected girlfriend, Barbara, decides to begin his campaign to reach the heights of the drug world.

Before the campaign really ever begins, George’s girlfriend dies of illness. This death symbolizes the end of any romantic feelings that Hillary may have had for Bill (think Flowers on a coffin). But if Barbara represents the supportive and loving side of Hillary that helped Bill succeed as a politician, George’s mother, Ermine, represents the domineering side of Hillary that will hound and haunt Bill’s psyche for the rest of his political career. Hillary (as Ermine) imprisons Bill (George) in Oedipal-like guilt, shaming him for not being the man that he should be. Ironically, it is in this mental imprisonment that Bill discovers the key to political success: to blow and be blown.

If Blow represents anything, it is Clinton’s perpetual struggle to control his insatiable desire to give and receive blow jobs, whether they be political or sexual. "Blow" doesn’t represent narcotic deviance as much as it represents the addiction to please and be pleased; to give the people what they want while simultaneously getting what you need. George’s life in this regard is at once inspiring and also a perpetual disappointment, especially when it comes to women, the bane of his existence and source of his priapic weakness.

The height of George’s misfortune comes with his "inappropriate relationship" with Mirtha. (Say it with me, Letterman-style: Mirtha. Monica. Monica. Mirtha.) Mirtha, an idealized version of Monica (slim, seductive, and sans beret), encounters George during a lull in the drug business at the height of his career. Although Mirtha is engaged to another man, they lustfully smolder in each other’s presence. Faster than you can say "hide the blue dress," we see quick cuts into their sexual romp: leather, whips, and chains, in a film that shows enough cigars to satisfy even Sigmund Freud.

George’s involvement with Mirtha proves to be the beginning of the end. Things rapidly go down hill. "Why don’t you fuck me anymore?" asks a delirious Mirtha. This moment represents Monica’s bitter disappointment at Bill’s withdrawal. Soon everything is out in the open. Colleagues begin to disown George one by one. In a scene that symbolizes the thrashing Clinton received by the media, George is beaten to an unrecognizable pulp by a group of his foes, all because of his connection to Mirtha.

After the drubbing is over, George is never the same. Like Clinton’s post-apology persona, he has the same strut but not the same stride. His reign is officially over, and for the remainder of the film he appears pathetic, sad, and desperate. The film tragically ends with George Jung, like William Jefferson Clinton, consigned to the dustheap of history: no longer a player, he wanders aimlessly in the prison of his own irrelevance, with guilty visions of his lone daughter haunting him for his blown reign of error.

posted by editor ::: June 11, 2001 ::: philms :::