Forest Whitaker, The Butler

Anne Marie Fox © 2013 The Weinstein Company

Supporters of Ronald Reagan aren't happy with the way Lee Daniels' The Butler portrays the 40th president, but none more so than his son, Michael Reagan.

The latter penned a scathing editorial for conservative website Newsmax titled "The Butler from Another Planet," in which he blasted the historical drama's suggestion that his father was racist.

"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," Reagan wrote.

The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who rose to become White House butler and served eight presidents, witnessing some of the most tumultuous events in 20th-century America, including the Civil Rights movement. 

The film, scripted by Danny Strong (Game Change), is inspired by the life of real White House butler Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House from 1952 to 1986 and whom the younger Reagan knew.

Which is why he can speak with authority on the subject. 

Reagan attacked Tinseltown for making what he called "a clichéd 'message movie'" particularly given the liberties director Lee Daniels and Strong took with Allen's life, such as giving Gaines a second son the real butler never had and depicting him as joining the Black Panthers.

In his column, Reagan compares the real butler to the big-screen version. 

"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?" asked Reagan.

"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?" 

But what particularly rankled Reagan was the movie's insinuation that his father wanted to veto sanctions on apartheid South Africa when, in actuality, he said "it had to do with the geopolitics of the Cold War."

"Portraying Ronald Reagan as a racist because he was in favor of lifting economic sanctions against South Africa is simplistic and dishonest," he added. "If you knew my father, you'd know he was the last person on Earth you would call a racist."

Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, The Butler

Anne Marie Fox © 2013 The Weinstein Company

Michael Reagan then went on to list a number of biographical tidbits about his late father that he accused Strong of dismissing, including the fact that the president appointed African-Americans to positions of power when he was governor of California.

He concluded his op-ed by chiding Hollywood for making stuff up to fit what he said was a liberal agenda. 

"Despite what Hollywood's liberal hacks believe, my father didn't see people in colors. He saw them as individual Americans. If the liberals in Hollywood—and Washington—ever start looking at people the way he did, the country will be a lot better off," Reagan wrote.

A rep for the Weinstein Company, which released The Butler, was unavailable for comment.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share