Amazon Prime’s ‘Goliath’: Another clichéd Hollywood David
WASHINGTON, January 3, 2017 — Some stories begin with a bang. Literally.
“Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Four shots ripped into my groin, and I was off on the biggest adventure of my life …”
So begins Max Shulman’s 1950 novel “Sleep till Noon,” a satirical tale about corrupt attorney Harry Riddle. But that preamble has nothing on what awaits viewers of “Goliath,” an original series now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
It is a dark and foggy night as a man lights a cigarette while standing aboard a boat quietly drifting on the open sea. In the far distance, two fishermen drop their nets as one comments on the distant vessel’s glowing beauty against the cold and misty darkness.
The atomic-like fireball grows into a glowing mushroom cloud as the fishermen duck from the flaming fragments raining down on them. That’s when they notice the fast-approaching shock wave blistering the air.
Rising to their feet, the pair regain their bearings just in time to confront the impending tsunami that swamps their vessel, tossing them into the cold, dark sea.
And so begins the biggest adventure in the life of down-and-out attorney Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton), who desperately wants “to get back to being someone people can trust.”
He reluctantly agrees to represent Gina Larson (Sarah Wynter), sister of the atomized boater Ryan Larson, in a lawsuit against defense contractor Borns Technology, for whom her brother worked prior to his death.
But McBride has two things going against him: He’s an alcoholic who calls the Ocean Lodge Hotel on California’s Santa Monica Beach his home; defending the weapons manufacturer in the wrongful death civil action is the world’s third largest law firm, Cooperman/McBride, which Billy McBride co-founded with Donald Cooperman (William Hurt).
“Donald hates Billy McBride,” lawyer Callie Senate (Molly Parker) tells a colleague, “more than any human on the Earth, and Donald is one of life’s truly magnificent haters.”
Cooperman is a quirky comic book villain. The right side of his body is a swath of scar tissue he received while serving in the Vietnam War. And he has the annoying habit of cutting off colleagues by sounding his paratrooper’s cricket clicker-clacker, used by U.S. forces during World War 2’s Normandy landings to distinguish friend from foe.
Piped-in opera and classical music provides the soundtrack to Cooperman’s sequestered life in his dark office high atop the law firm’s corporate L.A. skyscraper. Adding to his creepiness, Cooperman uses technology to keep tabs on the outside world, spying on those he finds of particular interest.
The plot of this legal melodrama is a familiar one: a seriously damaged lawyer seeks redemption by way of a David vs. Goliath case, with said lawyer serving as David.
One of Hollywood’s seminal achievements is the way they’ve turned bottom-feeding tort lawyers like Billy into heroes. John Edwards, one such attorney in real life, parlayed that good will into a career in the United States Senate and two runs for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. That all exploded when it was discovered he’d fathered a child with his mistress and campaign worker Rielle Hunter while his wife was dying of cancer.
The Philistine Goliath to Billy McBride’s David is Borns Technology, a defense contractor with global reach.
Here again, Hollywood trots out a familiar trope: the evil corporation, made especially menacing by its contribution to America’s arsenal of democracy, a.k.a., the military industrial complex.
The essence of Amazon’s “Goliath” is encapsulated in the closing arguments of the opposing attorneys:
“’People sue deep-pocket corporations all the time, and for some attorneys it’s a business model,’ says the corporate attorney. ‘These corporations have lots of money, what do they care? But some of them also have principles. And Borns Tech is one such company. We are in the business of making the tools our troops need to win the war on terror. We are in the business of protecting American soil. And we are in the business of protecting American values.'”
The cultural transmitters of the left-leaning media entertainment complex have decreed that terms like “war on terror,” “protecting American soil” and “American values” are code for Islamophobia, homophobia, racism and sexism. They are the outward manifestations of hate.
The evil lawyer insists that the good lawyer, McBride, wants the jury “’to believe in a feeling of injustice for the common man fighting the good fight against the big, bad corporation … And while he may illicit your feelings of compassion, feelings are not facts.’
But Billy McBride begs to differ:
“’The great thing about the law is that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what we say or think. It matters what you think. That’s the beautiful thing … You see, these corporations are not people. They don’t bleed, they don’t cry. It’s a company … When are we going to send a message to them to quit telling us what to think, what we need to be protected from. You can use your voice to say that they have done something wrong. And if you don’t think your vote counts, if you don’t think your decision counts, you’re wrong. There’s an old West African proverb and I’m going to be paraphrasing this: If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try spending the night in a room with a few mosquitoes.'”
In 2016, big, bad corporate Hollywood generated around $50 billion in revenue. When the mosquitoes of Middle America made their presence felt last November 8th, electing Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States, Hollywood had a collective meltdown:
- Hillary Clinton supporter and singer, Katy Perry, whose 2015 net worth was $134 million, tweeted, “THE REVOLUTION IS COMING.”
- “Family Guy” creator and Bernie Sanders supporter Seth MacFarlane, whose net worth is a tidy $200 million, added, “Some didn’t like Bush. Some didn’t like Obama. But this is different. Forget dislike. Many are genuinely fearful now. This is new.”
- Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion, said, “We stand together. We stick up for the vulnerable. We challenge bigots. We don’t let hate speech become normalized. We hold the line.”
And like the jury in Amazon Prime’s “Goliath,” America’s little guy told Hollywood, “Quit telling us what to think, what we need to be protected from.”