Hollywood Attacks Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan writer Razio Cazal explores a scene contained within the first minute of new Hollywood film “We Bought a Zoo” which portrayes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a “dangerous dictator”.


It will be released this Friday 30 March and they’re selling it as “the comedy of the moment”. It’s about a house in a zoo, a Cameron Crowe movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, which sounds very attractive for selling well at the box office.

However, despite being a family film with a story full of adventures, it includes a scene out of context (in the first minute of the film), that aims to ridicule the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, as well as branding him as dangerous and a dictator.

The story, produced by 20th Century Fox, begins well when – with voiceover – the main character Benjamin Mee (played by Damon) is introduced as a journalist who has specialised in writing adventures. After this it’s indicated that he has interviewed “dangerous dictators”. Then a strange deviation is taken from the film’s main storyline when a man enters with a mole on his forehead and a red shirt being interview by Mee.

“Look, take this message to that American cowboy [in reference to ex US President George W Bush], that we already gave a ten billion dollar credit to China, in oil!” declares the supposed Hugo Chavez, who then stands, and with an angry expression shouts into the journalist’s microphone “Swallow that, Mr. Danger!”

Next Mee (very calmly) asks him what his favourite film is, to which the actor personifying Chavez responds, coolly, “Toy Story”. The aim of this scene to show a president with sudden and radical mood changes. The 27 second scene ends when Chavez asks his presidential train (also dressed in red shirts and hats) if they can remember if he likes number one or two of the film. “The second,” one of them responds.

The Subliminal Message

This is being sold to the public as a family friendly, adventure, and even comedy film, when with this message at the start it is inducing the world’s hate against the Venezuelan president. However, in addition to this, one of his presidential train (seated just behind Matt Damon) is shown with a visible tattoo on his neck below the beard, which would appear to be a marijuana plant.

This image could allow the world to understand that Venezuela and its government endorse the sale and consumption of drugs, when it is a film to entertain families, including children and adolescents.

What also makes an impression is that the distributors indicate in their publicity that the film is “based on an incredible real life story,” as it’s about a widowed writer and father to a fourteen year old male teenager and a seven year old girl, with whom he undertakes the adventure of moving to a house inside a zoo. That’s fine, but in looking at the life of Benjamin Mee, in a review he said that “he was used to interviewing experts, passing their advice through a sieve and choosing the essential parts of their opinions”. It’s not said anywhere that he interviewed “dangerous dictators”.

In twenty-seven seconds during the first minute of the film the public is manipulated with respect to the issue of the violence of the head of state toward the journalist, about the relation that Venezuela has with China (portraying it as a spending spree), and, of course, for some reason national oil is mentioned, adding to the subliminal image.

Minutes later Mee offers his boss McGinty a piece about the end of the world from the point of view of the generation who is going to save it. For it he would go to a volcanic eruption. His boss makes fun of this and offers Mee a column: “Life is like that now, if the newspaper goes bankrupt or is sold, you’ll still have a job”.

In response, Mee quits, but what they try to show is that the private media boss is compassionate and protective.

You can watch the scene here.

Translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com