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Terry Gilliam: ex-American

21 September 2008 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in people | 12 Comments »

Hey lookie there! Other people do renounce their US citizenship!

From CBS News, 6 October 2006:

Terry Gilliam Sounds Off

Director Of ‘Brazil’ Says Current Events Parallel His Cult Movie

Visionary director Terry Gilliam, whose 1985 film “Brazil” was a classic tale of terrorized citizens crushed by an authoritarian government, is miffed.

“I’m thinking of suing George Bush and Dick Cheney for making the remake of ‘Brazil’ without my approval,” he told a New York screening audience this week. “Their version isn’t as funny, though.”

The 65-year-old native of Minnesota who emigrated to England in the 1960s and helped form the legendary comedy group Monty Python, held dual citizenship for three decades. (He married a British citizen and has three children.) This past year, though, he renounced his U.S. citizenship. He sees the current political scene in America – and its extension into the world – to be scarily similar to the Orwellian nightmare of his cult film.

In the film, government agents arrest suspects in hordes, going so far as to charge them for their interrogation, including the electricity applied to their bodies. Detainees who couldn’t afford the costs of their torture could apply for loans (at favorable interest rates). The machinery of government-sanctioned torture and data collection became a self-sustaining apparatus.

“It is absolutely frightening,” he said of the current political scene. “Homeland Security is just like [the film’s] Ministry of Information, because if your job is counter-terrorism, what do you need to keep in business? You need terrorists, and even if they aren’t there, we may have to create new ones. It works very well.”

From The Onion’s AV Club, 11 October 2006:

AVC: Why did you renounce your American citizenship earlier this year?

TG: I thought I’d just simplify my life. I’m getting old. I’m gonna die. I’m not at all happy with what America has been in the last 10 years. [Laughs.] The reality is, when I kick the bucket, American tax authorities assess everything I own in the world—everything I own is outside of America—and then tax me on it, and that would mean my wife would probably have to sell our house to pay the taxes. I didn’t think that was fair on my wife and children.

  1. 12 Responses to “Terry Gilliam: ex-American”

  2. By Darian W on 22 September 2008

    His attachment to the US government is no more; it has ceased to be!

    I have thought for a while that Brazil is the most relevant dystopian vision: an absurd and brutal bureaucratic nightmare where a paperwork error can get you disappeared and people ignore the horror around them in pursuit of bullshit status items, and being an unlicensed plumber is a revolutionary act.

  3. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2008

    Monty Python ftw!

    An inspiring story for those of us who dream of renunciation.

  4. By Stephanie on 24 September 2008

    I’m with Gilliam: if I had dual citizenship, I’d most definitely be considering renouncing my American citizenship at this point. I’ve become more and more disgusted with the American way of doing business over the last eight years that I can barely stand visiting anymore.

  5. By MySelfReliance on 25 September 2008

    If there was ever a worse police state than America, it might be Great Britain. But I’m sure we’ll exchange the number one and number two spot a few times over the next ten years. I wonder how hard it is to immigrate to New Zealand?

  6. By Mike Gogulski on 25 September 2008

    @MySelfReliance: Hard. Start thinking about how to go about marrying a Kiwi.

  7. By MySelfReliance on 26 September 2008

    yeah, i’ve been researching this and it seems hard to immigrate anywhere. I guess that’s why you went stateless. i was trying to gauge a move based on the policing tactics of governments…but it pretty much sucks everywhere except in dirt poor countries. am i just too much of a pessimist?

  8. By Mike Gogulski on 26 September 2008

    Well, I’ve found Slovakia at least to be relatively satisfactory. The state isn’t going to wither away any time soon here, but the tramp of the boot does sound far more distant.

  9. By Virginian on 8 December 2008

    Uhh — where the hell is the heroism, again? This is a perfectly sensible, eminently logical, tax dodge.

    Even though it makes sense for the guy, it’s not as if he’s making some sensible stand. Americans pay taxes on foreign earned income — most other countries don’t. He’s living the expat dream, but so do lots of other greedy old jerks.

    *Amazing* films though. I hope he can still get movies made.

  10. By Sue on 5 May 2009

    It about taxes. Period. $$$$. Sounds very “American” to me to worry about the cash, no?

    And realistically, every country is just as bad as the US, everybody has bodies buried somewhere. Grow up and have a look see.

  11. By Mike Gogulski on 5 May 2009

    @Sue: $$$$ in taxes = you don’t own the product of your labor == you don’t own your body = you are a slave.

    That that fact is true in every state on the planet is no reason to ignore it.

  12. By Sean on 4 November 2009

    I agree w/his sentiment about America but Britain is much worse. The proverbial leaping from frying pan to fire.

  13. By Mike Gogulski on 4 November 2009

    @Sean: Indeed.


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