JFK, Jr. & the Beast of Unfilled Promise

DATELINE: Brigadoon, Not Camelot


What can you say about the sexiest man in America who met an untimely curse in a plane crash off Cape Cod?

I Am JFK, Jr., is a documentary in which he is so high above reproach that you’d think he was Caesar’s wife, not a president’s son.

A cast of Brown roommates, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, speaks lovingly of his endless list of virtues. Most of the character references have ties to CNN, though the film belongs to the Spike TV network.

If there was a bad moment, John Kennedy used it to improve his image. He was, like the mother figure in Ordinary People, able to control mourning and become a dignified ice prince on call.

There is no doubt he could have become president of the United States by now. His mother trained him well, as she was a disciplinarian in a velvet glove. She discouraged him from pursuing an acting career, though he had his father’s penchant for actresses like Darryl Hannah. He knew his father was not a good family man—and he wanted to be different.

To have to resort to that hackneyed word, “charisma,” we will say it describes JFK, Jr., to a tee. Director Derik Murray has done a series of “I am…” documentaries that weaves together extraordinary clips and interviews. This is no different, and it may be his best in the series. The subject exudes perfection.

Though the film is politely called a tribute, it is truly in the mode of hagiography: the life of a saint, bordering on the life of a demi-god. He was unusual. His friends included Ann Coulter, Mike Tyson, Robert DeNiro, Larry Flynt, Christiane Amanpour, and others unexpected.

For some it will suggest the finale of Camelot. For others it may create demand his sister Caroline run for president in 2020.