By Rajko Radovic.
Here comes the bad guy. CNN is in the house, a sure signal that something bad is about to go down. Hidden behind designer sunglasses, the self-proclaimed father of the revolution scans an invisible horizon even when he is in a beach front restaurant surrounded by bodyguards. One never knows what he really thinks or what his next move is going to be. There is a desert wind blowing in his liquid gaze, his swollen eyelids have blinked too many times at too much horror done in his name. Yet he stays unfazed. It is all part of his self-styled rebel stance. He remains still as the adversary approaches. Christiane Amanpour in subdued gear – action costume for surreptitious manoeuvrings – comes in with a list of questions that sound more like blunt demands. Like a bird of paradise she hovers above him who is already on the other side, the dying rhino on the beach of quicksand. She asks: ‘The President of the United States, the leader of Britain and other leaders are calling on you to step down, to leave your position of power, will you do that?’ He chuckles back bemused as though she is a visitation from a boozy stupor: ‘Who would leave his homeland? Why would I leave my homeland? Why would I leave Libya?’
The YouTube video footage of Col. Moammar Gaddafi from various news media of the Western world brings the dinner conversation from Brian De Palma’s Scarfaceback to mind. In that scene full of baroque glaze Al Pacino stands up to the staring bigwigs. On his last legs he is next to the exit door surrounded by thuggish torpedoes ready for one last dance in the spotlight of immortality. Clownishly wobbling, all in a cocaine sweat mixed with genetic disgust He comes alive with a hazy notion of evening the score. The room he leaves behind him is full of the chattering classes. High rollers in penguin suits sullenly beam at him. All he can do is bark back. Soon he’ll be counted out. Soon the army of the night will move in on him. Soon riddled with bullets he’ll stare vacantly into the neon sign that flickers with the words: ‘The world is yours.’
But for the moment he is still Tony Montana, that curious spic that has jumped over the fence of vicious poverty row circle of life reserved for immigrant dishwashers and climbed the food chain up to that shining castle on the distant hill of worldly success. And he is livid with its stink. The heart of the scene is his blighted disillusionment with the American dream and the whole business of winners and losers. For sitting at the top table and being the top dog feels curiously like a trip through the sewers. His trophy wife, a blond WASP Venus played with daring delicacy by Michelle Pfeiffer is a feline junky. She slips through his fingers in dark pursuit of the next fix. Left stranded in the lonely places of excessive power – in the gilded pool with remote control in one hand, Cuban cigar in the other, his head is spinning with evil clouds full of murderous memories. The venom and the vitriol of inevitable breakup, the growing empire of dirty deals spreading under his feet, and the famished tiger in his rose garden all lead to one place – a bullet-hole exit into the closest eternity. His unguarded speech in the restaurant is the atavistic roar of a caged animal that cannot use his demonic energy to tear at shadows that terrify him. So he spits insults instead. And the genius of Al Pacino’s performance is in making his every ogre-stare remind us of the looming black hole that approaches inevitably. The treacherous world of regular folks managed through insidious duplicity is being sucked up into the dark vacuum of complete contempt.
‘What’re you looking at?’ He snarls at them. ‘You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.”’
And the same lines Moammar Gaddafi could level at the pampered elites now turning their fat-necked heads away from him. As he withdraws deeper into his own dark shadow, unleashing terror in his wake, he can scoff warily at contradiction in the midst of the conundrum. What still keeps him at least militarily if not politically afloat are guns and troops paid for and trained through lucrative arrangements made with the same governments that pile scorn and threaten economic sanctions against his regime. As he clings grimly to his last strongholds in and around Tripoli a montage-sequence of friendly handshakes can play out as an epic film on his deranged mind. Tony Blair, on his ill-fated ‘Blair-well’ tour of Africa, grins as he holds the dictator’s hand, the body language of an artful dodger. The cheeky smile promises ‘cooperation in the training of specialized military units, special forces and border security units’ as long as petrol keeps pumping and ‘war on terror’ knows no borders. Gaddafi is in on the joke.
On the photo with the British leader he never takes his sunglasses off. On the cinemascope screen of his mind other players may have bit parts or drift ineptly across black hangings in front of which Bedouin drama consumes all reality. Faces of Nat Rothschild, Silvio Berlusconi and Marco Tronchetti float by. Yes, Gaddafi is bad. It’s hard not to feel guttural disgust at his pompous pose. He stole all he could from his own people. He left hordes of unemployed and lost young men to watch as his ego trip of oil-lunacy shape-shifted into their worst nightmare. Surrounded by extravagant cohorts of female bodyguards and Serbian mercenaries who learned their deadly trade slaughtering Muslims in Bosnian killing fields, he will fight until his last bubble bursts. He has no scruples just a madly poetic vision of his grand-standing self. He is more than bad. He is rotten to the core, a dead ringer to Al Pacino’s stunning creation in Scarface.
And, just like Tony Montana he is unafraid of dying in action. He would charge the sky if it offended him, with his little friend, the trusted Kalashnikov, in hand. It would mean only more fame and posthumous glory. Yet in his feverish stupor and freakish delirium he knows the score. After the outrages of Iraq, Uncle Sam can never again intervene in the Arab world without being seen as brutal colonial invader. The American dream of global domination is slowly fading to black, drowning wearily in the oily sands of blood soaked deserts. Their world machine for manipulating the public opinion of the colonized mind is stammering dangerously, sounding ever more like Colin Firth’s Oscar winning King’s Speech. Europe, across the Mediterranean, is waiting sadly in its candy-coloured Disneyland periphery, like a toothless whore eying the next deep-pocketed trick. China and Russia never minded more bloody tyranny. As long as petrol keeps pumping Mad Colonel will stand a fair chance of another renewal, a sunset comeback along burned roads and cadaver-festooned highways. So make way for him, let him pass. Yes, he is the bad guy, staring right into your eyes.
‘So what that make you? Good?
You’re no good. You just know how to hide –
how to lie. Me I don’t have that problem.
Me, I always tell the truth – even when I lie.
So say goodnight to the bad guy… Come on…
It’s the last time you gonna see a bad guy like me again.
Let me tell you.
Come on, make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy coming through.
Better get out of his way!’
Rajko Radovic is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Canada.