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Columns

August 27, 2013

The butler from another planet

There you go again, Holly­wood.

You’ve taken a great story about a real person and real events and twisted it into a bunch of lies.

You took the true story of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986, and turned it into a clichéd “message movie.”

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler’” stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a fictional character supposedly based on Eugene Allen’s real life.

But let’s compare the two White House butlers.

Guess which one grew up in segregated Virginia, got a job at the White House and rose to become maître d hote, the highest position in White House service?

Guess which one had a happy, quiet life and was married to the same woman for 65 years? And who had one son who served honorably in Vietnam and never made a peep of protest through the pre- and post-civil rights era?

Now guess which butler grew up on a Georgia farm, watched the boss rape his mother and then, when his father protested the rape, watched the boss put a bullet through his father’s head?

Guess which butler feels the pain of America’s racial injustices so deeply that he quits his White House job and joins his son in a protest movement?

And guess which butler has a wife (Oprah Winfrey) who becomes an alcoholic and has a cheap affair with the guy next door? (I’m surprised it wasn’t the vice president.)

After comparing Hollywood’s absurd version of Eugene Allen’s life story with the truth, you wonder why the producers didn’t just call it “The Butler from Another Planet.”

Screenwriter Danny Strong says he was trying to present a “backstage kind of view of the White House” that portrayed presidents and first ladies as they really were in everyday life.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about food prices. Are you paying more than you were last year for certain food items? According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, "the cost of 16 food items" increased by 3.5 over 2013, as reported by the Des Moines Register. So, the question of the week is, "Are you feeling the food price increase pinch?"

A. Yes, and it hurts.
B. No, I don't feel a thing.
C. Not sure.
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