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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Thursday, October 14, 2004
THE DEAD ZONE, THE PRESIDENT, AND ONE MAN'S POSSIBLE QUEST
Warning: Major Spoilers for a Film, "The Dead Zone" Inside

This recent article explaining the tribulations of a possible would be assassin rang a cultural bell for me. Apparently crazy guy stalking the President (and John Kerry), looking for the opportunity to end the President's (or John Kerry's) life makes for a great story. What caught my eye was this paragraph:

"Ward's ex-wife, Judith Ward, 59, who lives in Connecticut, told the Secret Service she thinks her former husband "is very dangerous and capable of killing someone and/or committing suicide."
She said Ward "is obsessed with weapons, [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh and the book 'The Dead Zone' - a novel about the stalking and attempted assassination of a presidential candidate," according to a Secret Service document."

As anyone who has seen the film (I confess I have not read the book) knows, the protagonist, John Smith, can see into the likely future of any individual he touches. He uses this skill to solve murders and by intervening, he can change the apparent future into something more benign. Thus he saves a senator's son from a drowning he sees in his future by telling him not to go onto the ice and play ice hockey that day.

Anyways, one day, he bumps into Greg Stillson, a presidential candidate. He shakes his hand and has a terrifying vision of Mr. Stillson, elected as President in the future, becoming deranged and launching an unnecessary nuclear war that destroys everything when a diplomatic option that would have saved the world had just been worked out. Mr. Smith decides to stop Mr. Stillson and this possible future, and takes a rifle and attempts to shoot him. Mr. Stillson uses a child as a shield (something seen and photographed by a reporter who subsequently escapes the scene in the confusion); Mr. Smith hesitates, and Mr. Smith is killed by Mr. Stillson's sinister body-guard, Sonny. As Mr. Stillson goes over to Johnny, Johnny grabs his hand, and before dying Johnny sees a new image of Mr. Stillson, distraught with a gun in his hand, looking at a Newsweek cover with him using a child as a human shield with the heading (Something like) "Is this the end for Stillson?" followed by an away shot of Mr. Stillson shooting himself dead with a pistol. "You're finished," is all that Johnny says to Mr. Stillson, in the Now, smiling as he dies. The audience is left with the clear sense that the world has been saved by Jonny's heroic act.

So, even if the papers aren't really talking about motivation, it makes me wonder what is going on in Mr. Ward's head...
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