Kansas State makes cameo in Oliver Stone's "W."

by Eric Melin on October 15, 2008

in Blogs

fiesta bowl 2004Manhattan, KS in the house!

There was a brief “whoop” from the crowd last night at the advance screening of Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic “W.” when the Bill Snyder-coached 2003 Kansas State football team made a brief appearance in the movie.

Having gone to school there, played probably more than a hundred rock shows there, and since I appear as a regular movie commentator on Friday mornings on 101.5 FM, I whooped quietly to myself.

The cameo of sorts took place in a scene where Bushie (played perfectly by Josh Brolin) is depressed, watching football by himself, when the final score to the 2004 Fiesta Bowl comes on the screen.

oliver stone w movie posterThe camera cuts to the ABC graphic of the final score: Kansas State Wildcats 28, Ohio State Buckeyes 35; a disappointing end to a great season that saw the Wildcats beat #1-ranked OU for the Big 12 Championship 35-7. (The Fiesta Bowl was the game where quarterback Ell Roberson was accused of sexual assault right beforehand and it was unclear whether or not he would play. He did.)

Since no filmmaker ever just randomly inserts something on TV into a movie without a certain amount of symbolism or foreshadowing, I was trying to figure out why Stone would show a screenshot from this particular game. He even cuts to it, it’s not just on in the background! Obviously, he wanted to place the scene in a specific time (January 2004), but there has to be more to it than that.

One idea that leaped to mind suddenly as I was watching was that it may serve as foreshadowing for the infamous moment that K-State student Jeremy Parker scammed his way up to a microphone at a Bush appearance at the school’s Landon Lecture. He told the President he would love ”Brokeback Mountain” and, as a rancher, he should check it out.

[youtube Bq9uQahzaUI nolink]

Well, it wasn’t foreshadowing for that scene, because that scene never appeared in the movie. So, why did Stone use this moment to put on the TV? Was he drawing a parallel between Bush’s popularity after the Iraq War went awry and K-State, who went into the game as favorites and came out losers? I’ll probably have to see the movie again (and probably will soon; it was quite good) to place the moment in the context of the story to know for sure. Anybody that goes to see it this weekend, though, keep on the lookout for it. Think about where the story is at that moment and what significance it has. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it.

dustin schirer drunk k-state game

Since you never get to see “the man behind the curtain” on the website, here’s a peek. Above is Scene-Stealers director/editor extraordinaire Dustin Schirer in action at a recent KSU football game! Scary, I know.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nina October 15, 2008 at 10:22 am

Was wondering why the shout out to the wildcats but also wondered about the stepping on the corn on the cob. Comment on affluence?

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2 nina October 15, 2008 at 10:22 am

Was wondering why the shout out to the wildcats but also wondered about the stepping on the corn on the cob. Comment on affluence?

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3 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

Hmm. I do remember that shot, but what exactly should stepping on corn on the cob suggest?

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4 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

Hmm. I do remember that shot, but what exactly should stepping on corn on the cob suggest?

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5 Ashly October 15, 2008 at 10:43 am

I remember those scenes and I really couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t know if it was a Oliver Stone thing or not but the movie was so long I decided not to worry about it and let it surprise me, I never got that surprise..

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6 Ashly October 15, 2008 at 10:43 am

I remember those scenes and I really couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t know if it was a Oliver Stone thing or not but the movie was so long I decided not to worry about it and let it surprise me, I never got that surprise..

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7 Hai October 15, 2008 at 10:43 am

Throughout the entire movie there were many elements of symbolism. There were many specific, yet brief shots of boots and belt buckles for example. I can only speculate that Stone wanted to use symbols of Texas culture as association cues for symbolism. Boots=kicking ass in Iraq? Belt buckle as a symbol of stability… keeping your pants on while you are kicking ass. Think about it. There were a couple scenes where Bush is pantless…(in bed and walking to meet his Poppy before his inauguration)… these are the times when he is literally pantless and symbolically, the most vulnerable, especially with his wife and dad. Perhaps the belt buckle is a symbol of courage and confidence. Think about all the times when they flash the belt buckle…. those are the times when Bush feels the most empowered. Funny how these little mundane details can engender so much meaning and symbolism to some people.

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8 Hai October 15, 2008 at 10:43 am

Throughout the entire movie there were many elements of symbolism. There were many specific, yet brief shots of boots and belt buckles for example. I can only speculate that Stone wanted to use symbols of Texas culture as association cues for symbolism. Boots=kicking ass in Iraq? Belt buckle as a symbol of stability… keeping your pants on while you are kicking ass. Think about it. There were a couple scenes where Bush is pantless…(in bed and walking to meet his Poppy before his inauguration)… these are the times when he is literally pantless and symbolically, the most vulnerable, especially with his wife and dad. Perhaps the belt buckle is a symbol of courage and confidence. Think about all the times when they flash the belt buckle…. those are the times when Bush feels the most empowered. Funny how these little mundane details can engender so much meaning and symbolism to some people.

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9 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

Yeah, the TX metaphors were good, I also like how his father was constantly surrounded by the spectres of his powerful family. Lots of shots of all those framed family photos everywhere that W just couldn’t escape or seem to live up to. The movie is a lot more sophisticated than I’m guessing people will give it credit for. I’m thinking many will want a conservative-bashing lark of a film, and that’s not what it is.
But– what about the Fiesta Bowl?

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10 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

Yeah, the TX metaphors were good, I also like how his father was constantly surrounded by the spectres of his powerful family. Lots of shots of all those framed family photos everywhere that W just couldn’t escape or seem to live up to. The movie is a lot more sophisticated than I’m guessing people will give it credit for. I’m thinking many will want a conservative-bashing lark of a film, and that’s not what it is.
But– what about the Fiesta Bowl?

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11 Hai October 15, 2008 at 11:03 am

Here’s my 2 cents about the Fiesta bowl symbolism… at the simplest explication, think about the states. Kansas=Red… Ohio=Moderate (undecided)… Ohio State triumphs over Kansas State. Perhaps symbolism or more intriguingly, false foreshadowing of upcoming events. Bush was depressed because this may be another sign from god that the “Blue or moderate” state will win over a traditional red state. Of course, Bush doesnt see this as symbolism… his simple-mindedness sees it purely as a football game, whereas the deep thinkers see it as speculation of the election to come.

Hmm… i should actually do some work today.

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12 Hai October 15, 2008 at 11:03 am

Here’s my 2 cents about the Fiesta bowl symbolism… at the simplest explication, think about the states. Kansas=Red… Ohio=Moderate (undecided)… Ohio State triumphs over Kansas State. Perhaps symbolism or more intriguingly, false foreshadowing of upcoming events. Bush was depressed because this may be another sign from god that the “Blue or moderate” state will win over a traditional red state. Of course, Bush doesnt see this as symbolism… his simple-mindedness sees it purely as a football game, whereas the deep thinkers see it as speculation of the election to come.

Hmm… i should actually do some work today.

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13 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 11:41 am

I like that idea, but “false foreshadowing” seems like a stretch. Ohio definitely has something to do with it. If Bush had lost the 2004 election, this would make more sense.

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14 Eric Melin October 15, 2008 at 11:41 am

I like that idea, but “false foreshadowing” seems like a stretch. Ohio definitely has something to do with it. If Bush had lost the 2004 election, this would make more sense.

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15 Josh October 15, 2008 at 12:56 pm

no clue, i thought it might have to do with K-State smoking University of Texas, but that was 2 years later. And they lost in the Texas Bowl too… so i’m stumped.

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16 Josh October 15, 2008 at 12:56 pm

no clue, i thought it might have to do with K-State smoking University of Texas, but that was 2 years later. And they lost in the Texas Bowl too… so i’m stumped.

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17 Pagoda October 15, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Some sort of What’s the Matter with Kansas nod?

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18 Pagoda October 15, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Some sort of What’s the Matter with Kansas nod?

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19 Ken October 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

I just saw the movie and also wondered about the “stepping on the corn on the cob” scene right before meeting Laura Welsh. Did a little research and according to freemasonry today “Stepping off with the left foot has an ancient heritage as well, also related to the idea of rebirth into a new life. If you look at the statues of the gods and Pharaohs from the Egyptian Temples you will see that many are portrayed stepping off with their left foot, particularly after a ‘coronation’. ” Could this symbolize when he met Laura that he changed his life for the better, i.e. stopped drinking, etc.

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20 Ken October 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

I just saw the movie and also wondered about the “stepping on the corn on the cob” scene right before meeting Laura Welsh. Did a little research and according to freemasonry today “Stepping off with the left foot has an ancient heritage as well, also related to the idea of rebirth into a new life. If you look at the statues of the gods and Pharaohs from the Egyptian Temples you will see that many are portrayed stepping off with their left foot, particularly after a ‘coronation’. ” Could this symbolize when he met Laura that he changed his life for the better, i.e. stopped drinking, etc.

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21 Christopher Fox Graham October 25, 2008 at 2:28 am

The corn cob scene elicited glances from the people I went to see “W.” It was the one shot we talked about immediately after leaving the theater. While the coronation idea has merit, I don’t see the relation between coronation and corn. Perhaps the stepping has some significance, but I’m fairly certain it was her right foot anyway. And no part of Josh Brolin’s “W” is the shot. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but Oliver Stone intentionally shot the scene and put it into the film. Auteurs don’t play dice, but I’m not sure what Stone was doing either.

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22 Christopher Fox Graham October 25, 2008 at 2:28 am

The corn cob scene elicited glances from the people I went to see “W.” It was the one shot we talked about immediately after leaving the theater. While the coronation idea has merit, I don’t see the relation between coronation and corn. Perhaps the stepping has some significance, but I’m fairly certain it was her right foot anyway. And no part of Josh Brolin’s “W” is the shot. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but Oliver Stone intentionally shot the scene and put it into the film. Auteurs don’t play dice, but I’m not sure what Stone was doing either.

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23 Victor January 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Corn = Ethanol = biofuels
Bushie while in office = big supporter of corn farmers and used the biofuel/ethanol/the need to get off foreign energy position, as a reason to give $$$ to corn farmers.

Stepping on corn scene = these people are eating corn at the bbq, from their own farms obviously. i.e., he’s been hanging around these farmers for awhile. hence the willingness to help this groups when he gets into office.

…just my take.

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24 Victor January 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Corn = Ethanol = biofuels
Bushie while in office = big supporter of corn farmers and used the biofuel/ethanol/the need to get off foreign energy position, as a reason to give $$$ to corn farmers.

Stepping on corn scene = these people are eating corn at the bbq, from their own farms obviously. i.e., he’s been hanging around these farmers for awhile. hence the willingness to help this groups when he gets into office.

…just my take.

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25 greg February 15, 2009 at 5:44 am

Bush won the 2004 election by winning Ohio. The 2004 Fiesta Bowl was won by Ohio State. Many people, mostly far left democrats, believe
Bush had an advantage in Ohio. The weather in Ohio during the 2004 eleciton was cold and wet. Many polls in historically Democratic precints were not well manned and voters had to stand in line for hours while the polls in historically Republican areas were well manned and more easily accesible to voters.

Perhaps this “cameo” had more to do with foreshadowing the win in Ohio than anything in Kansas. GO BUCKS! Craig Krenzel is a God!

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26 greg February 15, 2009 at 5:44 am

Bush won the 2004 election by winning Ohio. The 2004 Fiesta Bowl was won by Ohio State. Many people, mostly far left democrats, believe
Bush had an advantage in Ohio. The weather in Ohio during the 2004 eleciton was cold and wet. Many polls in historically Democratic precints were not well manned and voters had to stand in line for hours while the polls in historically Republican areas were well manned and more easily accesible to voters.

Perhaps this “cameo” had more to do with foreshadowing the win in Ohio than anything in Kansas. GO BUCKS! Craig Krenzel is a God!

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27 Benjamin July 19, 2009 at 2:55 am

Here is my guess on the corn shot. As the lady is walking W towards Laura, there is a split second of the woman’s foot stepping on the corn. The corn is deep in green grass and has two corn handles on each side. When the sequence continues, George finds out that Laura is liberal-minded (however moderate we never find out). He even mentions how they are getting off on the wrong foot (he expresses it differently but both expressions have the same meaning). I can see that the corn representing Texas (mentioned earlier) and the two handles are Laura and W, one on each end. The green grass could represent the future or the future of America and that this moment in Texas where the meeting of Laura has a polarizing effect on W, and stabilizes his bad behaviors and moves him one step closer to the presidency.

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28 Benjamin July 19, 2009 at 2:55 am

Here is my guess on the corn shot. As the lady is walking W towards Laura, there is a split second of the woman’s foot stepping on the corn. The corn is deep in green grass and has two corn handles on each side. When the sequence continues, George finds out that Laura is liberal-minded (however moderate we never find out). He even mentions how they are getting off on the wrong foot (he expresses it differently but both expressions have the same meaning). I can see that the corn representing Texas (mentioned earlier) and the two handles are Laura and W, one on each end. The green grass could represent the future or the future of America and that this moment in Texas where the meeting of Laura has a polarizing effect on W, and stabilizes his bad behaviors and moves him one step closer to the presidency.

Reply

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