A nation shattered...an industry sired
You're going to get royally JFK'd in the coming weeks, but you probably already knew that.
Promos for new films, documentaries and network news specials fleck the airwaves, precursors to the barrage of air time that will be filled with all things Kennedy between now and the 50th anniversary of his assassination on November 22nd.
If you're like me, you'll record and absorb every second of it. Most of America, on the other hand, will get its full a lot sooner.
Chances are you'll be much more interested if you were actually alive that weekend. If you were, you know exactly where you were, who you were talking to, perhaps even what you were wearing. If you weren't, the whole thing probably sounds like a high school history lesson, an event filled with dates and vague names with little consequence to your contemporary life.
So why all the coverage? The barrage of new theories? The never-before-told stories?
The right answer is the obvious one: the JFK assassination was an epic historic event, one that changed history and our perception of the presidency (the folks who hold that office are just as vulnerable as the rest of us), government (many developed a healthy distrust of it starting with the Warren Commission) and the media (hailed at the start for level-headed coverage, now deemed dupes of a D-C cover-up by grassy-knoll theorists).
Then there's the commercial side. Simply put, enough of it sells to make a lot of people money.
Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgment" in the mid 60's was the first of the conspiracy tomes, opening the way for other authors to publish their theories. The flow petered out until the early 90's when Oliver Stone's "JFK" mash-up of allegations raked in a cool $200 million. More importantly, it re-ignited the debate and pushed Congress to release a ka-zillion heretofore sealed records. That wasn't enough for the grassy-knoll types who'll never rest until every shred of paper is out, and even then they'll say there's more we aren't being told.
A crime this large, an event this immense, a murder this tantalizing is low-hanging fruit, even a half century removed. The American appetite to have the story retold 50 years later? We'll have to see the numbers: Nielsen will let us know in cold, hard digits if JFK is past-prime.
If not, expect the conspiracy industry to roll on.