This weekend, HBO premiered the movie Paterno, a fictional representation of the two weeks covering the span of time between Joe Paterno’s 409th career game and his lung cancer diagnosis.
I watched the movie, curious to see how Barry Levinson would portray the events, and how Al Pacino and a litany of really great actors would put the whole thing together.
The movie had a Shakespearean quality to it, trying to make an interesting case study of Joe Paterno and an examination of two fateful weeks. Like many movies, it took actual events, and the writers formed a narrative around it – much like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar wasn’t based on the actual conversations between Marcus Brutus and Cassius.
Predictably, in their response to the movie, the Paterno family chose to attack the movie’s credibility.
“The HBO movie regarding Joe Paterno is a fictionalized portrayal of the tragic events surrounding Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. Numerous scenes, events and dialogue bear no resemblance to what actually transpired,” Scott Paterno thundered in a public statement just prior to the movie’s release on Saturday.
For good measure, the family also pushed their own commissioned report on the scandal – a weak, broad characterization of the profile of child molesters. The report, which has been floated before, is another attempt to try to convince people to believe that Jerry Sandusky simply fooled everybody, which conveniently absolves everyone from blame – especially Joe Paterno.
Their attacks on the credibility of the movie are reprehensible and are yet another attempt by Paterno apologists to try to deny that anything was wrong with their father or the institutional structure at Penn State when their father was head coach there.
In effect, they are trying to replace the fictional portrayal of Paterno in the movie with their own fictional representation of Joe.
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