Now obviously, with a movie like this, you expect to go in and see some sort of robo-CGI ghost president giving directives and saving the world all because he remembered to wear his magic helmet on November 22nd. That sounds kind of awesome, if you’re a history or politics nerd like me. You expect the director to eventually show a theoretical America of the future/present where the currency is candy and the world spontaneously holds hands and sings whenever a baby is born. Vietnam would have been solved by November 23rd.
But when the movie starts, you find yourself watching grainy newsreels with commentary, like you are watching The History Channel. “Okay, cool,” you say, “they’re just going to digitally add him in to the later scenes, like Fred Astaire with that vacuum.” That’s when you realize that each “chapter” of the movie has a ticker at the bottom “1 year to assassination,” “2 months, 7 days to assassination.” This is starting to get a little suspicious. Kennedy is going to survive, right?
Then, without warning, you get a clip of a reporter reading the announcement that President Kennedy was shot dead today. The movie then shows you scenes from LBJ taking charge and fucking up Vietnam, and then it ends. What the fuck?
The whole point of the movie seems to be that this historian believes that if JFK hadn’t been assassinated, he would have prevented the Vietnam war from being the intractable quagmire (read: clusterfuck of pain) that it was. No shit.
They let this guy make a movie? In my version of “Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived,” the first half hour would be set on November 22nd, the day JFK pulled an AK-47 on some weird dude in a book depository. The motorcade would proceed as usual, until, with no warning whatsoever, JFK whips around, gun in hand, and fires a single shot. Crowds scream, Jackie O does that OMG thing from the Zapruder film, but JFK acts like nothing has happened.
Or, if we’re going to make up history, why not go crazy:
The motorcade proceeds as normal, but out of nowhere, in comes reanimated ex-president Teddy Roosevelt–the universe’s biggest bad ass (I would have an especially severe historian describe him this way, so that there would be no dispute by the peons). Roosevelt runs in front of the bullet on the way to the book depository, and doesn’t pause for a second when the shot hits him. Before anyone knows what the fuck is going on, Teddy is on Lee Harvey Oswald, and he’s pissed. Oswald is thrown out of the book depository, only to land on Roosevelt’s fist. (Yes, he ran that fast). Roosevelt then hands the shattered remains over to the police while he flies off to fight crime elsewhere.
Roosevelt would probably also prevent the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, too.
Then, Kennedy would prevent the Vietnam War; not only sign, but write the Civil Rights Act; write a provision for gay marriage into the Constitution; invent a robot that does nothing but fix the ozone layer; balance the budget; tear down the Berlin Wall; and win the Cold War with a five minute speech on manliness.
He’d probably also bang Marilyn Monroe. A lot.